ATMs in Uganda – Stanbic When All Else Fails

Brazil and Japan are among a few countries where most ATMs don’t play nice with foreign ATM or debit cards. Add Uganda to the list.

I needed local cash in Jinja, Uganda and did not want to wait through long lines to get to a counter to exchange cash.

I set out along the main drag, stopping first at Tropical Bank. My withdrawal appeared to be processing and then canceled.

Uganda Jina Bank 01

Next to Bank of Africa. Card rejected outright.

Uganda Jina Bank 03

Then Pride Spot. Same.

Uganda Jina Bank 02

I called my bank and the only one they saw was Tropical Bank, which was debited and then immediately re-credited. The others never went through at all. No fraud issue on my card.

Then to Standard Chartered, a UK-based bank. Rejected again. There was no line and a helpful teller claimed that that issue is that Ugandan banks issue debit cards with numbers printed on the card rather than raised numbers, so that many ATMs reject cards with raised numbers. Interesting, never heard that idea, and seems odd because the ATMs would either read the magnetic stripe or the chip. She proclaimed, “Stanbic will work.”

Uganda Jina Bank 04

I continued up the road and, indeed, Stanbic did work.

Uganda Jina Bank 05

I am still skeptical on the raised numbers thing. However if you need cash in Uganda, head for Stanbic.

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  • Deb

    I had the same issue last week, but it seemed to be a fluke. I’m in the region 2-3x per year, and never have issues. Stanbic was ok in Uganda and Kenya, otherwise only Barclays with added fees. That said, I’ve never had to wait in line for forex anywhere in UG…but few places available 24hrs.
    Safe journey!

  • LIH Prem

    “the more you know”.

    who else would know this or blog about it? 🙂

    You mentioned Japan. At least in Tokyo area I never had any issues with my ATM cards.

    -David

  • Lively

    Stanbic really looked sketchy, lol.

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  • Shannon

    Why Japan? Atm are everywhere. zero issue.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – many foreign cards only work at Japan Post, which usually has ATMs inside so limited to business hours, 7-11 and Family Mart. A foreign visitor would be forgiven for thinking all the banks ATMs should work. For example, last year when we went to Kinosaki-onsen, the only ATM in the whole town that accepted foreign cards was at the lone Japan Post office.

  • Muerl

    Well, thankfully my traveling CC is ALSO printed flat with out raised numbers. Thank you Bangor Savings for looking out for me. If I happen to find my self in Uganda I will check it out 😉

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Muerl – I was wishing I had some of my China debit cards which are also printed.

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  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Deb – thanks, maybe the country had temporary system issues with its bank network?