Using a MasterCard in Central Asia

No matter how much you plan your trip, you'll be broadsided by random problems. It's part of the thrill of travelling.

One of these problems is using your MasterCard in Central Asia. We learned our lesson in Uzbekistan, where we nearly ran out of fuel and money. At times, we were over 300 kilometres from the nearest MasterCard ATM.

  • Uzbekistan: Asaka is the only bank that lets you use your MasterCard. You can withdraw So'm at any of their ATMs. You will find Asaka Bank branches in large cities.
  • Tajikistan: You can use your MasterCard at Kazkom ATMs. Again, you will only find those in larger cities.
  • Kyrgyzstan: DemirBank ATMs let you withdraw soms and US dollars.
  • Kazakhstan, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan: In those countries, you can use your Mastercard with almost any ATM. It can be difficult to find an ATM in rural areas, but you will find many in any city.

If you are reading this, get yourself a Visa card for your trip. It will save you some trouble. It's also good to carry some euros or US dollars with you. In a pinch, you can change them for local currency.