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Travellers cheques?

Travel Forums Asia Travellers cheques?

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1. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 9y

Hi,

I've never used travellers' cheques before but this is my first time 'properly' travelling, so I've gotten myself kitted out with a credit card and looking at traveller's cheques too (heard it's good to have them for emergencies?). The bank told me that I'd need TC in US dollars for India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia- is this right?

Also, how much of each currency should I bring with me? Obviously I don't want to be walking around with my life savings in my pack, but don't want to stuck either.

2. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 9y

The easiest way to carry money is with ATM debit cards. You can withdraw money from ATM's in foriegn countries straight from your bank acount the same as you would at home. That way you never have to carry more than a week or two worth of cash. Carry it in a money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes. Find out from your bank what kind of fees there are for international withdrawls. Some charge a set amount, like $2-5 per transaction, and some charge a percentage of what you take out. If they charge per transaction then take out the limit everytime to cut down on costs.
Credit cards are rarely used on the road in these countries unless you have no other way to get money and you have to withdraw cash from your card at a bank or something. But keep in mind that in this case you usually start paying intrest on your credit card right away. For day to day purchases, you will probably never use it unless you are staying in high class hotels. In all the years Ive travelled, I think I used my credit card once.
Now that ATMs are used most of the time, Travellers Cheques are almost gone obsolete, but they are still useful for emergencies since ATMs aren't to be found in every small town in Asia like they are at home. But in India, thailand, and Malaysia you will almost never have a problem finding an ATM. I have no idea about Indonesia. So take 100-200 pounds in travellers cheques just in case. I'm sure Pounds or Euros will work just as well as US. 100 pounds is enough to last you two weeks in these countries which will no doubt be long enough to see you through to the next ATM.

3. Posted by stowaway (Budding Member 28 posts) 9y

Just what I was hoping you'd say... that's one less thing to worry about. Thanks!

4. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Stowaway

Just bring a few hundred British pounds, in cash, for emergencies.
I would not bother with travelers cheques, when u have your credit card.
But be careful, where u use your credit card, in South East Asia. Only use it in big international hotels and places like that. Credit card fraud is common.
Keep your cash and credit card, with u at all time, in a concealed money belt. Even take it to the shower, with u. Guest House rooms are quite often robbed.
Bring your ATM card. That will also be useful, for withdrawing cash. Most counties have plenty of ATM machines. Although, I have heard, that in Laos they often dont work.

Mel

5. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Quoting Degolasse

Credit cards are rarely used on the road in these countries unless you have no other way to get money and you have to withdraw cash from your card at a bank or something. But keep in mind that in this case you usually start paying intrest on your credit card right away. For day to day purchases, you will probably never use it unless you are staying in high class hotels. In all the years Ive travelled, I think I used my credit card once.

Are u sure about that Degolasse? I only get charged interest, if I dont pay, within 2 weeks of getting my credit card bill. Well, that was my last credit card.
I have one now, where the bank just do an automatic cash transfer, every month. They take what I owe, for my credit card, directly out of my bank account, without me having to do anything.

6. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

Mel, I think what Degolasse is most likely true for Canada, but it varies from country to country. For example I have heard that the Nationwide Flex account in the UK has no charges at all for overseas transactions (haven't used it so only going on what has been mentioned on other travel forums). In Australia any debit card which is linked to one of the main banks, will give you a $5.00AUD set fee and that doesn't matter if you withdraw 20 Euro or 500 Euro. With creditcards in Australia a Wizard Clear Advantage card will let you withdraw with no overseas withdrawal fees as long as you load you creditcard with your own cash and are only withdrawing the money that is yours. Once you do a cash advance with the banks money then huge charges kick in like 15 or so % interest (whatever the normal creditcard interest rate is, but it gets charged from day 1 with no room for a grace period). On all other credit cards I have seen (in Australia), if you top it up with your own money you'll get charged a cash advance fee of something like $2.50AUD and then you'll get charged a certain percent commission (at last check it was about 2% for most cards) so on a large withdrawl of say 500 Euros, you'd be getting whacked with a fee of close to $20AUD (approx 11.80 Euro) due to the Euro being valued so much higher than the Australian dollar. If you purchase something like say pay for a night in a hotel, then on most Australian credit cards you'd get charged the currency conversion fee of around 2.5% but depending on which card you have, you may have up to 55 days interest free on that purchase, but then doing cash advances gets interest straight away. So It varies from place to place and in some cases bank to bank in Australia, so it most likely would in most the rest of the world. From what I have read Australia is about the worst of the countries for bank fees.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 16, 2007, at 3:29 AM by aharrold45 ]

7. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 9y

Quoting Mel.

Quoting Degolasse

Credit cards are rarely used on the road in these countries unless you have no other way to get money and you have to withdraw cash from your card at a bank or something. But keep in mind that in this case you usually start paying intrest on your credit card right away. For day to day purchases, you will probably never use it unless you are staying in high class hotels. In all the years Ive travelled, I think I used my credit card once.

Are u sure about that Degolasse? I only get charged interest, if I dont pay, within 2 weeks of getting my credit card bill. Well, that was my last credit card.
I have one now, where the bank just do an automatic cash transfer, every month. They take what I owe, for my credit card, directly out of my bank account, without me having to do anything.

Yeah, I'm talking about using your credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM, bank or money changer. If you don't have a surplus of money already put on your card than it usually starts charging you interest imediately. I've heard this from people from many different countries. Purchasing items using a credit card is a different story altogether. I have actually used my card a few times to purchase train tickets or larger souvineers while abroad, and I've never been charged interest or a fee as long as I paid it off by the end of the month.

But, as aharrold45 says, it's probably different from bank to bank and country to country. For debit I've travelled using cards from Canada, NZ, Australia and UK, and I've been charged different fees for each. So I guess the bottom line is that the OP should check with his bank and credit card company and find out what fees and interests are put on the use of his debit and credit card. The best one to use will be the cheapest option.

8. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Thanks for the info, guys!!

Mel

9. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1656 posts) 9y

"Are u sure about that Degolasse? I only get charged interest, if I dont pay, within 2 weeks of getting my credit card bill. Well, that was my last credit card.
I have one now, where the bank just do an automatic cash transfer, every month. They take what I owe, for my credit card, directly out of my bank account, without me having to do anything."

.
When I charge something on a credit card in a store back home there is no interest on that purchase if I pay the amount in full before the the due date (usually 30 days.) But if I take money out of an ATM with a credit card that is a LOAN! (At least on my cards!) Money taken out of ATM's with a credit card have interest begin the day you get the money and that interest continues until you the credit card company is paid in full.

Another thing about credit cards, some have really high ATM charges, and some lucky people have low ATM charges - check with your credit card issuer and see what they tell you. I have totally free credit cards - no annual fee, no sign up fee - but they have the highest ATM fees when withdrawing cash overseas. Some credit card companies, that you pay an annual fee, may have cheaper ATM fees for overseas use.

A couple years ago I started using debit cards, the ones I use have low fees or no fees for the first 5 transactions (credit union card) and no interest of course. I keep credit cards for any possible emergencies that may come up. I never use credit cards or debit cards for small purchases in stores or restaurants - too much chance of fraudulent charges showing up later on. I use cheap hotels so paying cash there is no problem.

I bring some travelers checks, only the highest denomination that I can get from my credit union. With my credit union I have no charges for travelers checks. I have had no real trouble cashing a TC in most places. You do have to have a passport for identification and sometimes they ask for your hotel and room number. In Thailand the fee to cash a TC is only 33 baht, cheaper than ATM fees. Only take the highest denominations you can get to cut down on a whole bunch of fees. You can use the internet to record the serial numbers of your travelers checks (and flight itineraries, schedules, confirmation numbers and lots of stuff you need to recall in an emergency!)

For Laos and Cambodia I bring U.S. dollars with me for most of my purchases. In the border areas with Thailand some Thai baht may be accepted too. In Vietnam I had U.S. dollars with me.

I only stay in hotels with security boxes, that's my first preference. I use those security boxes for my valuables. This often rules out "guest houses" but I'm an old fart and really don't want to be around a lot of noisy, possibly drunk, kids anyway! I don't like "community safes" in hotels either - unless it is the only choice! I have a lockable pouch that I either poke in the security box or place into the big envelope that hotels use for "community safes." The bag doesn't stop theft, it only lets me know that something has been tampered with.

10. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 9y

i have seen a travellers cheque in the museum recently