Credit cards around the world: Nigeria

Our ongoing series heads to Nigeria for a look at credit card use and credit card statistics in this African nation that's, sadly, become synonymous with an e-mail scam that has spread throughout the world in recent years.


"A cash economy"
Despite the above-mentioned growth, that's what the U.S. State Department called Nigeria -- "Credit cards are rarely accepted beyond a few upscale hotels."

Going international
In late 2004, Ecobank Nigeria Plc "launched the first ever internationally accepted credit card in Nigeria," and many have since followed suit. The problem is many of the cards have sky-high fees and require a checking account with the issuing bank and a substantial deposit.

Using local currency
Oddly, many of those international cards conduct transactions in dollars, not Nigeria's own naira. But in 2006, Ecobank launched such a card, which requires no collateral.

Cards and crime
The legendary Nigerian e-mail scam
Sadly, around the world, Nigeria has become synonymous with the ubiquitous e-mail scam in which a purported Nigerian royal or government official says he needs your help transferring money. He then promises you a large sum of money in exchange for your credit card info or bank account data. The e-mail's success prompted an FBI warning.

Bad apples spoil the bunch
Innocent Nigerians are paying the price for their nation's troublesome reputation. Reports indicate that some online merchants will go as far as not allowing purchases to be made by legitimate Nigerian cardholders for fear of fraud.

Local voices
Official tourism site

Top financial news sites
Nigerian personal finance blogs
Country info
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon
Population: 146,255,312 (July 2008)
Area: 356,668 sq. mi. or 923,768 sq. km. (twice the size of California)
GDP: $296.1 trillion (2007 estimate)
Key exports: petroleum and petroleum products, cocoa, rubber
Famous Nigerians: Basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon, musicians Seal and Sade, novelist Chinua Achebe

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Updated: 04-21-2019