Beware of ATM’s in Panama

I’m not sure if the problems with the CLAVE system have been resolved but here’s one person’s story of trying to get money out of the ATM in the last few days. It seems that the Canadian bank cards are working and I’m not sure what others are effected. If you are planning on using a machine, check with the bank to see if the problem has been resolved.

The Magic of Travel

Panama City

When was the last time you went to an ATM and thought that there is a possibility that the ATM may not dispense your cash?  Not from lack of funds or trying to withdraw more than your daily limit, but because the bank system is unable to process your transaction.

Welcome to Panama.

When the need arose to withdraw cash from an ATM in Panama, we set off to the closest ATM, thinking nothing of the regular task.  The first ATM we tried did not dispense our cash.  We did not think anything of it, and set off for another ATM.  Once again, the ATM did not like my debit card.  We tried my Visa card for a cash advance.  No luck.  Bank number three did the same, as did bank number four.  At this stage we decided to return to the hotel and get another debit card to try. …

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About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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6 Responses to Beware of ATM’s in Panama

  1. c.c.cappon says:

    When I stayed in Chitre I once tryed to withdraw cash. After 4 banks, someone told me: it”s friday. Lots of banks don’t have enough money to give out.
    Then you just had to wait until monday.
    I don’t know whether this is normal.

    • indacampo says:

      Never heard of that one. There must be quite a few people that get cheques in Chitre. Here most get paid in cash.

  2. c.c.cappon says:

    Withdraw from an ATM, I meant. Sorry, my english is not what I’d like it to be. cc

  3. Peter says:

    Since I am hearing a lot about ATM problems in panama, it seems that using the ATM isn’t the best idea anymore. What about cash advances? Purchases in businesses with card? Would that be safer?

    • indacampo says:

      We use our Canadian Visa card in many of the larger businesses with no problem. You will encounter difficulty in some of the smaller “cash only” businesses hostals, restaurants etc. The ATM problem seems to have been solved so don’t rule them out entirely for getting cash out. Banco Nacional seems to work the best for us and also Banistmo (which was HSBC) works well.

      Please also keep in mind that most businesses don’t like taking $50.00 and $100.00 bills. You will have to show your passport/residency card and sign either a form or a journal verifying that they are not counterfeit so that they can track you down if there is a problem with the bank notes.

      Thank you for reading!

  4. I have just returned from my 6 month adventure through Central America. And we have finally had our money refunded back into our accounts from our problems in Panama. It took 4 months to get our money back. Our Australian bank continued to communicate with the banks in Panama and it is crazy how long this took. So please be careful!

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