April 18th, 2017 7:10 PM by Nour Ailan
Cafecitos, cigars and a chance to experience Cuban culture? These are some of the many facets of a trip to Havana. But being able to use a credit card instead of cash to pay for your trip? Priceless.
Pompano Beach-based Stonegate Bank (NASDAQ: SGBK) issued the first of its MasterCard credit cards for use in Cuba on Tuesday.
The South Florida bank was the first – and so far the only bank to launch a debit card for use by U.S. travelers in Cuba. The bank announced a partnership with MasterCard when it launched the debit cards last year.
That move followed Stonegate’s decision to become the first U.S. bank to establish a relationship with a Cuban bank.
Since President Barack Obama announced the intention to re-establish a relationship with Cuba, Stonegate has been actively increasing its banking ties to the island nation. At the request of the U.S. Department of State, Stonegate agreed to handle the banking for the Cuban government in the U.S., which encompass services such as travel visas and any dealings with embassies in Washington, D.C.
The issuance of a credit card has been a work-in-progress for the last nine months. To commemorate the occasion, Stonegate is offering a limited-edition card featuring a design by Cuban artist Michel Mirabal.
"Hopefully, more U.S. Banks will allow their customers to use their cards in Cuba, thus helping to alleviate the burden on travelers to the island," Stonegate President and CEO Dave Seleski said. "I am very excited to introduce these products which I believe will benefit our corporate clients and provide a meaningful diversified income stream to the bank."
In addition to personal credit cards, Stonegate announced plans to issue corporate, purchasing, payroll and prepaid cards within the next 30 days.
Debit and credit cards certainly allow increased flexibility when traveling in Cuba. However, Cuba and its businesses still need to establish infrastructure to accept debit and credit cards to process sales.
Stonegate is one of the largest South Florida-based banks, with $2.45 billion in assets.