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south east asia...travellers cheques,cash or atms???

Travel Forums Asia south east asia...travellers cheques,cash or atms???

1. Posted by danny21108 (Budding Member 68 posts) 6y

ive been trying to figure out which is the best way to use my money whilst on my up coming trip to thailand,laos,vietnam and cambodia...i was going to mainly rely on using my atm cards and credit cards for last resort,with maybe just a few travellers cheques..

anyway after doing a little research it seems that i should try to avoid using atms as (1)it is quite common for them to swallow up your card,(2)charges can be extorsionate,and(3)ive even heard banks have sometimes assumed that frequent withdrawels in south east asia means your cards been stolen so they block it and stop your card altogether,then ring home and as your not there dont answer but by then its too late..has anybody had any of theses experiences or they really pretty uncommon incidents....

any advice would would be greatly appreciated...thanks..Dan!!

2. Posted by Yvekes (Respected Member 266 posts) 6y

In SEA I always use my credit card (in my case free of charge abroad), and I have always some spare dollar notes in my pocket for emergencies.
I've never heard it's common for ATM's to swallow cards...

3. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 6y

1) I've never heard of anyone here reporting that it's common for ATMs in South East Asia swallowing foreign cards.

2) To avoid these extra bank charges, many UK-based members here have an account with Nationwide. They do not charge (or charge you very little) for overseas withdrawal.
Read more:
Debit Card/Credit Card Reccomendations
Round the world...money??

3) You need to inform your bank of your travel plans ahead of your travels. Otherwise, the protection mechanism will kick in and automatically assume that it's fraud and stop the card.

This article will give you some guides on handling money while travelling: Money Matters

4. Posted by CanadaGuy (Respected Member 199 posts) 6y

There is more than 1 way to skin a cat.

I personally have travelled with US traveller's checks, and a relatively small amount of US cash- always easy to convert to local currency and US $ is accepted in several places in SE Asia ( although I would always advise paying in local currency when at all possible). Sure, you have a small service charge when you do the conversion at most banks, but there is also a charge for many ATM exchanges. Plus you have the security of replacement funds if travellers checks are lost/stolen.

I have also met many people who think travelller's checks are obsolete and belong in museums- and use ATMs alll the time. Unless you are very far off the beaten path- which is actually somewhat hard to do in the places you are travelling- you will be in cities along the way with easy ATM access...

6 of one, a half dozen of the other....

5. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1593 posts) 6y

Quoting danny21108

ive been trying to figure out which is the best way to use my money whilst on my up coming trip to thailand,laos,vietnam and cambodia...i was going to mainly rely on using my atm cards and credit cards for last resort,with maybe just a few travellers cheques..

anyway after doing a little research it seems that i should try to avoid using atms as (1)it is quite common for them to swallow up your card,(2)charges can be extorsionate,and(3)ive even heard banks have sometimes assumed that frequent withdrawels in south east asia means your cards been stolen so they block it and stop your card altogether,then ring home and as your not there dont answer but by then its too late..has anybody had any of theses experiences or they really pretty uncommon incidents....

any advice would would be greatly appreciated...thanks..Dan!!

Not all countries are the same for using money. For Thailand travelers checks are not a bad deal especially now because there is an ATM surcharge of 150 baht per atm withdrawal (plus normal atm fees) but the fee to cash a travelers check in Thailand is only 33 baht! So, for Thailand, travelers checks are looking better now days! For atm withdrawals only take out the maximum you can to cut down on lots of fees for small withdrawals. In Thailand travelers checks also get a hair more in exchange than ordinary cash. Only bring the largest denominations of travelers checks you can get so you don't pay the 33 baht fee for a low value check. Only bring currency that is in good condition and newer series. Wait until you get to Thailand to get the best rate of exchange.

As far as atms eating debit or credit cards - that does happen every now and then. If you are worried about this just use an atm when the bank that owns it is still open. If the atm keeps the card one of the bank clerks can open the atm and get your card back. If you intend to use credit or debit cards you FIRST must tell your bank that you are going overseas and where. Without telling your bank that you will be overseas is when you may end up with a withdrawal denied because of suspected fraud. Have a spare debit or credit card, don't rely only on a single card.

For Thailand you change your currency to Thai baht and use their currency in Thailand! You won't get stuck with Thai money because at the airport there are bank money changers available to change the money back to your home currency. Sometimes in Cambodia near the border with Thailand you can use a little Thai money to make purchases. But for Cambodia US dollars is a de facto currency in common use there.
http://www.canbypublications.com/cambodia/money.htm

Same for Vietnam you can often use US dollars there.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/practical-information/money-costs

You can also use US dollars in Laos in some situations.
http://www.southtravels.com/asia/laos/traveltips/currency.html

Do not leave Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia with their currency! No one wants to change it for you when you are in a different country. It is less easy to cash a travelers check in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and the fees are higher than Thailand. The value of a travelers check is in its safety! (You can record any travelers check serial numbers in an email that you send to yourself and then save in a folder. You can also record the serial numbers of larger notes like $100 bills if you want. In case they are stolen you can pull up the email and recall the serial numbers. All atms that I used in Asia only accepted 4 digit pin numbers.)

I have a couple debit accounts in US credit unions. They sell travelers checks without any charge if you are a member. Also, some credit unions pay for some of your atm charges overseas. Even with the higher atm surcharge in Thailand I can still take out around $1000 for free within 30 days.

Have a nice trip.

6. Posted by fussy (Inactive 208 posts) 6y

Cards, tell your bank your ininerary prior to departure for hastle free use. We used ours right around teh world, no trouble.

Cash, take some in the currency of the country you are landing in and some greenbacks are always a useful backup..

Why not get some TC's you just never know.