Hi everyone first time traveler off to Europe this August I was hoping some of you experienced travelers could give me tips about how you accessed your money overseas any advice is greatly appreciated I've looked up travel visa/mastercards s and chqs but maybe one of you had another idea that the banks won't tell me about
Thanks in advance
Hi - I usually take my bank card and a credit card (MasterCard). I prefer taking money out of an ATM using my bank card because the costs are not high and the exchange rate is far better than any local bank will provide. I have a Cirrus card and many foreign ATMs accept them. If not, I use my MasterCard in an ATM. The exchange rate is usually the same but there's a cash advancement fee to pay too. But still safer than carrying wads of cash about.
But check out your destination and ensure there are ATMs available - Burma required tonnes of brand new American dollars three years ago and nothing else would do - no ATMs, Similarly we had to use Euros in Havana a couple of months ago - no ATMs and definitely no American dollars!
Since I usually travel for months at a time, I carry two debit cards (also known as bank or ATM cards) and two credit cards. I carry one set with my passport and international certificate of vaccination; and the other with a money clip (I don't carry a wallet). ATMs have been known to "eat" cards (particularly if you dawdle at the machine trying to figure out how much to withdraw). So when traveling for extended periods, I find it best to have a backup. It's also best to have a backup credit card. Worldwide, the Visa/Plus interbank network is more extensive than the MasterCard/Cirrus/Maestro network. In some regions of the world, such as West Africa, it may be difficult to find an ATM that will accept a Cirrus card, as my friends recently discovered. But elsewhere, such as Europe, they are readily accepted. I don't advise getting a cash advance with a credit card as you could incur substantial interest charges. There also are fees associated with ATM withdrawals. These can add up if you withdraw small accounts; and frequently. So plan your withdrawals. Some banks and credit unions in the U.S. absorb ATM fees as well as foreign transaction fees on both debit and credit cards. My bank does with its ATM card. Most of my credit cards also waive the foreign transaction fee. So I get full use of my money. Usually, you get a better exchange rate using your ATM card than converting currency. There are notable exceptions, such as Argentina, where you get the worst rate from both ATMs and bank offices. Some countries require you to show your passport when exchanging currency. For safety, use ATMs at bank branches or in secure locations. Of course, both credit and debit cards can't be processed in many remote areas, particularly those with poor telecommunications links, or with little or no electricity. So, you'll need to carry cash -- either local currency, U.S. dollars or euros. Dollars are accepted nearly everywhere; but euros are preferred in West Africa (they like dollars in East Africa). When exchanging greenbacks, you get the best rate with $100 and $50 bills. The currency must be without blemishes, such as tears, excessive folds and writing. Otherwise, it may not be accepted, or you'll get a poorer exchange rate. Also, older U.S. notes printed before a certain year also could be rejected. If you plan to use your credit or debit card overseas, notify your bank(s) in advance. Call them again before you leave to make doubly sure they know. Otherwise the transactions could be blocked. Some foreign airlines, such as India's IndiGo, require you to show the credit card used to purchase the ticket before boarding the flight. Finally, Myanmar (Burma) now has ATMs. They dispense large wads of kyat.
All I can really add to the excellent advice above is to withdraw as much at a time as possible to reduce the per - transaction fees your bank charge you.
In the uk monrysavingexpert.com keeps a comparison of cheapest debit cards and prepaid debit cards for withdrawing travel money, as well as best rates for foreign currency if you want to arrive with some.
There are lots of Web sites with information about currency exchange rates. I use xe.com; and I find that some businesses overseas use it, too. It helps to know what the conversion rate is before you exchange currency, or approach an ATM. That knowledge sometimes can mean extra money in your pocket; and help reduce travel expenses, even if only by a wee bit. For example, with the dollar surging in value on recent trips, I got more Brazilian reais, West African francs and Indian rupees toward the end of the trip than at the beginning. So it paid to measure my withdrawals as I traveled. But it also can work the other way around, particularly if your currency isn't the dollar; and it's dropping in value.
If you're paying by credit card, it's often in your best interest to avoid fees incurred by dynamic currency conversion (go online to see what that means). So tell the hotel or business that you want to settle the bill in local currency terms instead of in dollars or euros. Credit cards are being accepted in more places in the world. Even street vendors in Brazil accept them. But cash remains king, particularly in developing countries. So carrying sufficient amounts sometimes is unavoidable. To reduce risk, it may make sense to prepay some travel expenses, even if it means wiring money.
Just returned from 15mths travelling and used a FairFX card - https://www.fairfx.com. Accepted everywhere, best exchange rates, secure (you top it up from your main account so if it gets lost/stolen no-one has access to your bank details or loads of money). Highly recommend it, would always take a back up card though (preferably that uses Visa as FairFX is MasterCard).
When I am overseas I have two different debit cards for cash from ATMs. (One MasterCard and one Visa. The card I use more often is the MasterCard card.) I can move money between these two accounts and my other bank accounts if needed by pulling up my bank links. (I use my own computer for accessing my bank accounts.)
I also have a couple credit cards for emergencies that might come up or perhaps buying plane tickets. I choose hotels cheap enough where paying cash is no problem. I just don't like using credit or debit cards for cheap purchases in stores, restaurants or bars. I believe it is taking too much of a chance for fraudulent charges to show up on my account. Some tourists never check the charges on their CC or debit card accounts.
Having two cards for cash is a good idea. Like the above post mentions the ATM could eat your card.
If you don't really know your traveling companions or invite random visitors to your hotel room - one of them could steal your card along with passport, cash, jewelry and other valuables. So use a security box or safe if available, at least keep valuables out of sight, maybe locked in your bag. Don't share pin numbers with friends! You could simply lose a card if you are careless too. So best to have more than one card for cash.
One thing to do before leaving home with any cards is to notify your bank or card provider that you will be overseas using their cards. Your card provider might block your ATM withdrawals thinking that someone is using your card overseas to make fraudulent charges.
Know what the daily limits are for withdrawals that your bank/provider allows. I keep my cards at $500 per ATM withdrawal per day. Even if an ATM allows for higher equivalent amounts I won't be getting more than what my providers allow. (Some tourists have low daily limits on their cards.) Get the most you can from an ATM at one time so you don't have big fees for small withdrawal amounts. Also watch who is behind you looking at you enter pin numbers. More than once I have moved people back who were too close to me. Watch out for people behind you pointing their cameras or phone with camera recording you entering your pin numbers. I prefer to use ATMs during day hours when the parent bank is nearby and still open. If the card gets stuck the bank employees might be able to retrieve it or at least hold it for you after the ATM is opened up later on.
Some less common currencies may be hard to get rid up when you are in other countries.
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Jun-2015, at 14:38 by karazyal ]
When using a debit card overseas, I usually use my laptop soon after to check the exchange rate and to see that nothing unusual has occurred. That's important. On arrival yesterday in Yerevan, Armenia, I used one ATM at the airport, which took a long time to process the transaction, ultimately returning my card with no cash. The next ATM dispensed the cash without a problem. When I arrived at the bed & breakfast, I used my laptop to check the withdrawal. Both transactions, including the one that didn't dispense any cash, showed up on my account. So I called my bank via Skype to let them know what happened. They mentioned that sometimes ATMs have communication and other problems, so not to worry. They will work to resolve it.
If you don't already know, toll-free calls made via Skype are just that: toll-free. There is no cost to you. I called my bank via its toll-free number.
In my opinion, it's important to carry cash, too. There are places where ATMs aren't available, or it's advisable not to use debit cards for security and other reasons.