Restrictions On Naira ATM Cards Abroad—A Horrible Move

Some banks in Nigeria have stopped Nigerians from being able to withdraw with their ATMs cards abroad. Others have reduced the daily withdrawal limit to $300. In fact, Zenith bank Nigeria reduced its monthly withdrawal limit to $1000. That’s about $32 a day (if you divide by 31 days), although you are still allowed to withdraw a maximum of $300 per day.

The reason?

You hear all sorts of reasons behind this, the sane ones include:

  • US dollar is scarce due to the declining oil revenue, so it is harder for these banks to find dollars
  • The value of the Naira has to be protected

Who suffers?

While I respect the points raised above, I don’t believe the decision is the right one. As always, it is the average Nigerian that is worse hit. I for one have been hit, and it’s just terrible.

It’s not the guys that make the calls that get hurt by the terrible decisions they make. Some of them have bank accounts in different countries, where they horde foreign currency for future use.

Now some people may argue: “But there is still the option for international bank transfers?”

Nigerian ATM cards image

The problem with international bank transfers from Nigeria

I would consider 3 case-studies:


Nigerians may now be forced with carrying tons of debit cards when travelling abroad, or large piles of cash (which is very risky) to pay for hotel bills, etc.

Nigerian students abroad

Nigerian students abroad who are sponsored by their parents or relatives in Nigeria are one of the worse hit with this new change. It is now harder for them to receive money while abroad.

It is definitely important I mention it is cheaper and more convenient to withdraw with a Nigerian ATM card while abroad than doing an international bank transfers from Nigeria. It is not a new story that Nigerian banks sell foreign currencies at a much higher rate than even the black marketers in Nigeria. Also, you have to pay for transfer charges, then wait for a couple of days before the person you are sending the money to receives it.

Online payments

Some Nigerians need to pay for example: international certification exams, web hosting fees for their businesses, etc., which usually –and only—accept payments online.

Some of these services cost even up to $2000, so my question: How would they pay for these online services?

Most of these online services would not accept bank transfer payments because of the trouble in it.


The Banks gain


The way I see this whole issue, it is the Nigerian banks that will gain in expense of the average Nigerians abroad that are sweating to make a living.

When they put a limit of $300 in the amount of money you can withdraw with an ATM card abroad, this gives them enough time to use your money to do business and make profit. When you decide to buy foreign currencies from them, they sell it to you at a much higher rate.

When you decide to use them to transfer foreign currency, they charge you in foreign currency.

When they don’t allow you to withdraw foreign currency in Nigeria…They convert the foreign currency you receive at their own rate – which is usually terrible—and give you the equivalent in Naira, thereby making more profit off you.

Yes, the economy in Nigeria is bad, but anyway you put it, dollars or foreign currency has to be bought…They closed one option and opened the other, so they’d gain the more.

This is wrong.


I wasn’t surprised some Nigerians didn’t show empathy to those that are suffering from these changes. It says a lot about the way some Nigerians think.

I don’t care what they say, but decreasing the daily withdrawal limit to $300 is just wrong—it’s too small.



Giovanni is obsessed with the social-economic development of his beloved Africa and inspiring people to think for themselves logically and rationally. He started Thescripton as a teenager because he felt it was one of his best ways to contribute to making society better by discussing critical social topics in an educative manner. But as his grew older he realised he change should begin from an individual level. He’s the founder of Larnedu and a few other online communities that serve thousands of people around the world. He’s open to constructive criticism and learning from others.

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