I'm going to South America for 6 months from October and will be in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentine and Brazil (maybe more). I was just wondering if anyone had any advice on the best way to take money as I don't want to pay atm fees. I'm from England if that's any help
I think it works out similar whether you use money exchanges or atms, if anything atms can be cheaper because you can get yourself organised with a card with low atm charges.
What are your alternatives? If you exchange money at a bureau de change you have to pay somehow - are you going to carry enough sterling for six months? Even then the rate you buy at means they're making a profit. Pay by debit card and you have probably higher charges than at an atm and you lose on the rate too.
At least by using an atm you should be getting a decent exchange rate, and your chance of fraud is lower.
My strategy would be to use atms for as large a withdrawal as possible each time, to minimise transaction charges. And before you travel set up a debit card with low charges - previously Nationwide flexaccount was best but I'd look on moneysavingexpert.com to see the best travel money cards at present.
I don't disagree with Andy much, but there's an exception which is Argentina. Over there, ATM fees are utterly ridiculous (effectively 5% or more), and get combined with an extremely low maximum withdrawal, plus the "official" exchange rate. You can get 30% better rates by paying in euros or dollars, so bringing cash money there ends up being really worthwhile, to such a degree that I wouldn't spend any of that cash in the other countries at all.
i was in Buenos Aires Nov 2014 and my Australian debit card had a daily limit of $1,500 aussie dollars which is heaps.
however, when i would use their ATMs they only recognised the numbers which equated to about 128 pesos.
this meant that if there was an emergency or i wanted to do a tour and go to dinner and a show on any given day i would not be able to withdraw enough money.
when i returned to Australia, they said i should have used my credit cards. i was nervous about doing this as by this stage i didn't trust the ATMs and i didn't want to buy my tango shoes using my credit card from the up market boutique only to find that it could be rejected!!! that would have been very embarassing.
besides you get things a little cheaper if you have cash in American dollars.
so every day I would walk to the city centre and withdraw money so i could accumulate enough cash to buy my shoes!!!
sooooo the moral of the story is to CHECK with your bank before you leave.
Also, not a good idea to travel with a lot of cash in your pocket in south america and don't wear flashy jewellery even if it's fake (they won't know if it is or not and you'll be robbed).
everyone loves the American dollar. you will find illegal exchange booths which offer a good rate. and people accost you in the street calling out: Cambio, Cambio!!! I did not use them because i did not feel safe.
anywhere in south america try not to look like a tourist. if you are fair and blonde wear a hat!!!!
other than that - it was WONDERFUL.
i really knew i was alive over there!!!
danger at every corner ... LOL!!!