Few questions regarding travel to the USA & Europe in the second half of 2014 regarding money.
We will be backpacking around both countries for a year are are trying to figure out the best form of money to take for each country. We are trying to hedge against the AUD dropping anymore as have budgeted it being at parity +/- 5% for the USD and the Euro being around $0.74.
1. Pre-paid Travel Cards
Are these widely accepted in the USA and Europe when booking hotels,hostels,tickets etc?
We know the exchange rate is poor and there is a risk it could be stolen and used as your name isn't on the card? Are there any with names on the card?
Also the withdrawal fees from ATM's are high but we can accept this if we are able to withdraw amounts greater than $1000 at one time at ATM's in the USA and Europe...is that possible? We have heard most ATM's in USA don't allow large amounts to be withdrawn, not sure about Europe...
2. Travellers Cheques (Mainly for USA)
We know this are old fashioned but we like the fact they are insured if stolen and we can take large amounts $10 000+. We know the exchange rate is average again but we would like to know if it's possible to cash travellers cheques overseas at American Express Travel Outlets for free? Are these outlets freely available across the USA and in Europe at all? Otherwise what price would I be looking at to cash travellers cheques?
3. 28 Degrees
We know this would be our first option if we could guarantee that the exchange rate won't keep dropping because of the many fees that aren't included with this card. We used this card for Asia placing cash on it before/as we went and withdrawing cash from overseas. Therefore no ATM fees or bank charges!
The real reason is we have most of the budgeted amount +50 000 AUD currently and want to be able to confirm the exchange rate and get as much as possible for our Australian dollar locked in but at the most affordable/sensible option!
If you have any input or answers it would be greatly appreciated!
Prepaid cards are really little more than debit cards. Instead of taking money from an account in your bank, you take money from an account you have paid into for this purpose. You use them at ATM's to get money like you would a debit card. There is considerable debate over charges for withdrawing money. You will be charged per withdrawal so ideally as much as possible each time.
Banks do limit the amount that you can withdraw over a set period. It is unfortunate that the way they tell you that you have reached your withdrawal limit for a time period is often to say that there are insufficient funds in the account, which can give you a fright. You can use the card to directly pay in shops, restaurants, etc which will not come off your cash allowance.
You may want to take a debit card with money in your bank to use as a backup so you have two cards you can use if you need more money, if you have a problem with one or lose one (keep them in different places on your person, and not where your money is.)
Yes you can cash traveller's cheques but that is not easily done as you have to find an outlet that cashes them (for a friend many years ago, even in Manhattan that proved difficult). And again there are charges.
The exchange rate goes up and down and there is nothing you can do about it.
Some further information:
The first thing you need to do which is very important is get yourself the best current account deal you can which will allow free or low withdrawal fees.
Get yourself a couple of credit cards and pay off whatever you spend within the free period. I have a credit card I can withdraw cash from with no interest charges but in general don't withdraw cash from a credit card as the banks tend to charge interest from the day of withdrawal.
I'd always advice having back up cards because for some reason you can guarantee they will stop working for no apparent reason, it's sods law when you travel for months.
Set up a standing order transferring money monthly from your saving account to your current account and to pay off your credit card, this will ensure you are still getting interest on your savings and not having too much money sitting around in your current account earning no interest.
Get yourself a money belt for storage when traveling (you'll get searched at customs control but this is no big deal). At least your most important documents and money are safe.
Forget about travelers cheques (these are a complete faff) and pre pay cards just use ATM machines.
The rates go up and down there is nothing you can do about it, stop worrying about the drop in rates and enjoy the planning for the trip.
Don't carry more cash than you need unless say you are traveling to Africa where ATMs are few and far between.
Where you are traveling too is easy but just be cautious in some of the areas of cities, use common sense and you'll have a great time.
See my previous mails for links to other useful websites.
Best of luck and keep safe out there