Right, seriously-- my little head is all confused about which card take travelling. I am going to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore for 6months In JAN 2011-- I had heard that until 2009 Nationwide did not charge for withdrawing cash directly at an ATM but now they do. I have a credit card with the Post Office which allows me to pay online for Hostels of meals in restaurants etc for FREE but I am keen to find some sort of card that allows me to withdraw cash from an ATM for a cheap a rate as is available.
Many thanks in advance for any Help :-)
Not all of the countries on your list are the same when using debit or credit cards.
I always use Visa and MasterCard debit cards in Thailand and the Philippines without any problems. My debit cards are through credit unions which pay for some of my ATM charges.
Be aware that in Thailand, for ATM withdrawals, there is a 150 baht surcharge added to what your bank will normally charge you. When in Thailand take out the maximum you can at one time to avoid lots of fees for small amounts.
I can get travelers checks without any fees from my credit union, Thailand is one place in Asia where they are a benefit. In Thailand the fee to cash one is only 33 baht compared to the 150 baht charge for the same amount of money using an ATM. Only bring the largest sizes you can get so you don't pay fees for low value amounts. Travelers checks in Thailand also give you a hair better exchange rate.
When you use debit or credit cards you also have to notify your bank that you will be overseas and where so that your withdrawals are not suspected of being fraudulent.
Cash also works too! Only bring the larger size currency that is newer series and not all beat up and dirty. I wouldn't rely solely on a single debit card that might be lost, stolen or damaged. One thing I never do is to use credit or debit cards for cheap things - especially in restaurants! I use cash for meals in restaurants (easy for me because I only use cheap places) because there is too much chance of CC fraud. By the time you recognize that there have been fraudulent charges thousands of dollars or pounds will be on your account!
Beware. Just because there is an ATM somewhere, don't mean you can get money from it. Up here in ratanakiri, cambodia, we have an ATM. But it only takes Visa. Lots of travelers come up here and think ATM = money and then find themselves struggling for a way to stay not to have to go back to the nearest full service ATM in Kratie.
:-) takes a banker to tell you, it is not a matter of Visa or Master.
Look at the back of your ATM card, check for "Cirrus", "PLUS", "STAR", "NYCE", etc. ATM works according to network just the same as Visa, Master, UnionPay, etc.
Many European banks (example - Germany Deutches Credit ATM card) refund you the charges (home country+withdrawal country) for oversea ATM withdrawal. Check and talk to your bank before you leave your country.
Some banks work with higher foreign currency exchange rate with no fix charges (Siam City Bank in Thailand), some banks work with low foreign currency exchange rate with a fix charges (normally 4usd or 3euro).
In Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand/Phillipines, ATM and credit card networks are full fledge, you should not face issue than merchant could charge upto 3% fees.
In Indonesia/Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam, credit card might be an issue. ATM should not, but base on charges and network. Thus, cash should be better. US dollars are common and most accessible.