Millions of Canadians whose MasterCard charge cards were issued by credit unions are now being forced to abide by U.S. economic sanctions that prevent use of the cards in countries including Cuba and Iran.
CU Electronic Transaction Services (CUETS), which issues MasterCards to credit unions and caisses populaires, was in October acquired by the Canadian subsidiary of the Bank of America. As a result, CUET MasterCards will not work in Cuba, North Korea, Burma, Iran and Sudan.
MasterCards issued by other Canadian financial institutions are not affected and will continue to be accepted around the globe.
Ellen Tucker, a travel agent in Saint John, said the change will certainly affect travellers headed to Cuba, a favoured hotspot for Canadians.
“Say you’re staying at a hotel in Varadero and you want to take the full-day excursion into Havana, say it’s $60, $70 a person, you probably wouldn’t want to carry that much cash with you,” she said.
Catharine Downes, assistant vice-president of marketing with the North Shore Credit Union in B.C., said her group has worked steadily to keep consumers in the loop.
“We had a member newsletter that went out in mid-October, we did a bit of a web update in the context of the cards themselves to make sure that on an ongoing basis people would be aware of the restrictions,” she said.
Consumers should call their credit union to determine if their cards are affected by the boycott list.