Stonegate Bank of Pompano Beach, Fla., has issued MasterCard
credit cards for use in Cuba. It is the first bank in the U.S. to do so.
“This has been a work in progress over the last nine
months. Hopefully, more U.S. banks will allow their customers to use their
cards in Cuba, thus helping alleviate the burden on travelers to the island,”
said Dave Seleski, Stonegate president and CEO.
In addition to personal credit cards, the bank is issuing
corporate, purchasing, payroll and prepaid cards within the next 30 days.
Stonegate’s World or World Elite MaterCards for Cuba
feature a stylized illustration of the U.S. and Cuban flags by Cuban artist
Michel Mirabal, symbolizing the historical shift in relations between the two
countries. Only 1,000 of the limited-edition cards will be issued.
The credit card will permit travelers to charge purchases
at state-run businesses and some private restaurants equipped with
American visitors have had to bring cash to Cuba and
exchange it for Cuban currency at state institutions that impose a 10% fee.
The new card carries no annual fee and offers a 0%
introductory interest rate for one year and after that a 13.5% to 14.5% annual
Stonegate has provided banking services for the Cuban
government since July 2015. That move simplified matters for tour operators
with programs to Cuba, allowing them to pay for visas for their clients by
check or credit card rather than in cash.