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Debit, Credit card or Traveller's Cheques?

Old Nov 18th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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Debit, Credit card or Traveller's Cheques?

We are spending 10 days in Thailand and 3 days in Hong Kong in January. Our hotels have been paid for but wondered what is the best way to pay for dinners? We usually always use Visa to rack up our points. Are the exchange rates higher in Asia than what we are used to when travelling in the states ( We are from Canada). If taking travellers cheques should we take CAD or is US better?
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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Exchange rates vary from country to country...you can't expect Canada-US exchange rates to have any bearing on Canada-Thailand and Canada-Hong Kong exchange rates.

Some restaurants and shops will only accept cash, and others will accept credit cards...some will add a 3% or 4% credit card fee to the final cost for using a card. If you take travelers checks, take Canadian dollars...no point to exchange twice, as you lose money each time you exchange.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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You really do not need to take travellers cheques anymore just take a bank debit card (two cards in the rare case one is lost in the ATM) and your credit card. Once you land at the Bangkok airport get Thai bahts from a ATM there. You will need them for the taxi to your hotel. Most purchases and meals (unless eating at an expensive restaurant) will be paid for in cash. ATMs are located in most cities in Thailand and there are plenty in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the major beach areas. If it makes you feel more secure take a few travellers cheques as backup in Candian dollars.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Let me suggest that you do NOT take a debit card. Debit cards do not have the same anti-fraud protections as credit cards. Someone can clean out your bank account with a debit card, and it may take months to get your money back. Many people use a debit card as their ATM card. Instead, I have my bank issue me an ATM card that only works as an ATM card.

Ask your bank what they charge for accessing your account via a foreign ATM. Some banks charge a lot - $5 to access the account and 3% foreign exchange fee. Others may have no charge for access and no charge for foreign exchange.

I typically use credit cards where I can, get cash via an ATM, but also carry a few US$100 bill just in case I can't find an ATM or it is out of order. You'll be in places with lots of available ATMs.

Do your research before you go: does your credit card charge a foreign exchange fee? How much? Does you bank charge for ATM access in foreign countries? Do they cahrage a foreign exchange fee?
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Thanks that info helped. Canadian debit cards are set up differently than yours in the US so I will not be using ours! Thank you Kathie for taking time out on your vacation to answer these questions. Hope you are having a great time. Reading all these posts have certainly helped in planning our trip. Does anyone know how many Bhats we can enter Thailand with? What about Hong Kong and their dollars?
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 05:23 PM
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Exchange currency once you arrive in the country. The exchange rate is better than the rate you will get at home. No need at all to exchange beforehand.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 07:16 PM
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I realy don't know what Kathie is talking about when she refers to debit and ATM cards. In Canada we have what is called a bank card (I refer to it as a debit card) which is used for ATM withdrawls and merchandise purchases. I have used mine in Thailand many times and have never had a problem. You do have to know what the bank charges as fees as it varies quite a bit. Never get Baht or HH$ before you leave as the exchange rate will be poor.
Also if you use Amex be aware that they convert to US$ and then to Cdn and every time thay you convert you loose some.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Scotters, I don't know if the situation is the same in Canada as in the US. Many banks issue a "bank card" that serves as both a debit card (has a Visa logo, but takes money directly from you bank account rather than being a charge card) and also allows you to take money from your bank account via an ATM. However, while it has a visa logo, it does not have the visa protections for fraudulent use.

Banks rarely issue ATM only cards in the US, except upon request. I've had my bank issue me an ATM only card. It provides additional protection for me should it be lost or stolen.

Know your bank policies so you can make a good decision.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 03:37 PM
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Kathie: I read my post again and I didn't mean to jump on you - wording come out wrong. Our bank cards do not have a Visa or Mastercard logo but show Plus or Cirrus which realy mean the same (cards with plus issed by banks having Visa credit cards. We can use these (along with the person's personel pin number) to withdrawl cash (each person has a limit on amount they can withdrawl) or to buy merchandise. If someone can make a copy of your card and get your pin number then for sure they can withdrawl money. But fraud in asia stems more from credit card use than using an ATM. When I travel to Asia I open a tempotary bank account with only the amount of money I will need and set limlits for each withdrawl as well as advising the bank where I will be. Never had a Proplem except in Cambodia where the machine ate my card (why I also carry two}.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 04:19 PM
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It's ok, Scotters, I didn't think you were jumpiong on me, just pointing out that the card situation in Canada may be different than in the US.

The card you describe is what we would call a debit card in the US. One problem is that with US debit cards, they can be used even without a PIN by asking the merchant to process the card as a credit card, or the merchant can do that if the computer won't approve a debit transaction. Check with your bank about fraud protection. In the US, there are few fraud protections for debit cards, many for credit cards. It sounds like you do a number of things to protect yourself, Scotters.

One other note: Always inform your bank and credit card issuers of your travels. They usually want the countries you'll be in and the dates. If they see foreign transactions and don't know you are away, they may "turn off" your credit card or ATM card.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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Dont know if you saw my previous post re credit cards but just remember, allways insist in paying in local currency otherwise you will pay dearly for conversion into your own currency.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 10:44 PM
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The difference between a debit/check card and ATM card.

ATM - If you only have savings account, the bank gives you an ATM card, which can only use on ATM machines to withdraw cash. Most people have $300/per day limit.

Debit/check card - if you have a checking account or/and savings account, the bank gives you a debit/check card. You can use it to withdraw $ from ATM machines or make purchases or/and get CASH back. Unlike credit cards, you do not have 25-30 grace period. The bank immediately debit (deduct) $ out of your bank account. Most people have $1,000-1,500/per day spending limit.

TIP: If you are in the US, you can save some $ with your debit/check card. Instead of using other bank's ATMs, walk into a convenience store and buy a bottle of water and ask for cash back.
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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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Just to put my 2 cents in. I am a big fan of using ATM's instead of exchanging cash. You get a much more favorable exchange rate from the ATM's verses hotel/banks or money changers. This is because you will get the bank to bank exchange rate which is the rate before hotels/banks/money changers take their mark-up. This is how the banks make money. For example exchange rate bank to bank(ATM) 40baht to US$1. Hotels might give you 35 Baht to US$1. These rates are not the real rates. Also the difference may not be much but every little Baht helps.
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