Getting cash in Japan/Bali/HK

May 9th, 2004, 02:16 PM
  #1  
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Getting cash in Japan/Bali/HK

Hello, noticed posts before about this but didn't pay much attention. Now that trip is coming up....we will be in Tokyo, Bali, and Hong Kong. Normally when traveling we take our regular Visa and also a Debit Card (to get cash from ATMs which has been no trouble in South America or Europe. Would it be better to take American Express? How would you handle getting cash in these areas, are ATMs easily available? We were also thinking about a new product that Amex offers, a TravelFunds card that is essentially a debit card but not linked to a bank account. It can be used at ATMs for cash or as a credit card. What would be the best way for easy access to cash at the best exchange rates? Thanks in advance!!
Oh, another idea (I am in the financial markets so I think this way)....was thinking of wiring the hotels funds in advance through a discount exchange service. Has anyone ever done this? I know the downside, if we left early for some reason but otherwise has anyone ever done that? Thanks again.
stockexchanger is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 03:00 PM
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We used a debit Mastercard in Bali and had no problems. Did not bring travelers checks but did bring $500 each in brand new $100 bills which did come in handy to settle a hotel bill where other methods of payment would have cost us more. I am also in the financial services business - I was working with a travel agent located in Bali - their credit card terms were unfavorable so I had my firm generate a bank check to pay for the deposit on my hotels which I DHL'd to them with no problems. For some reason it is difficult to wire money to Bali. I have no experience with Hong Kong or Tokyo but I assume that all forms of cash are readily exchanged as these are major financial centers.
Craig is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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ATMs are readily available in Bali and Hong Kong. I can't speak for Japan. AmEx is typically only accepted at high-end hotels in Asia. I find it the least useful card in Asia. Call your credit car comapnies in advance to check on their charges for using the card overseas. Typically, when charging purchases there is a 2-3% surcharge (but that is on the bank rate, so a better rate than what you get at money changers). I figure that the convenience and frequent flier miles are worth it to me. Also, make sure you call your credit card companies know you are in Asia so they will accept your charges.
Kathie is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 03:25 PM
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Like Kathie says, Amex is not as accepted at as many places in Hong Kong as VISA/MC, plus they charge 2% exchange rate, compared to VISA/MC's 1%. I just don't see any advantage of using the AMEX Travel Funds card, or whatever it's called.

The number of ATMs in Hong Kong is astounding. They are virtually everywhere you look. A VISA/MC/Cirrus branded ATM or Debit card will be the best way to get cash in Hong Kong.
rkkwan is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 04:13 PM
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The ATM access in Tokyo was a hassle. The nearest ATM that took Cirrus or Plus card was a city Bank ATM, at quarter mile away from our hotel. The hotel had ATMs, but none took our card. The best bet were the post office ATMs. Most plain ATMs had impressive lists of cards they took. Cirrus and Plus were not among those.


Combining the fact that Japan is a cash driven society and things are expensive made the difficulty finding the correct ATMs especially incovenient.

Of course, if you only have to pay for yourself, the situation is better.

I don't know how many of you are travelling together. Recommend take maxium advantage of the ATMs at airport and the post office when you are near one.
nickn is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 04:33 PM
  #6  
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I really appreciate these comments. Japan is where I heard it was tough. There are 5 of us (my husband myself and 3 kids pre-teen and teen) so we will definitely be needing cash. Especially if we go to that Sega place But I hate to carry so much cash when traveling. Guess that is the only option. Are traveler's checks easily accepted? I haven't used them in years. THANKS
stockexchanger is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 04:48 PM
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in HK you will have no trouble with ATM's...there are many of them and they charge no service fee...the last time i was there i took no cash and no trav. cks....in fact i now feel that i finished with trav. cks....i only use them to send for european hotel deposits where they often don't take credit cards...

make sure that you take several cards as they do invalidate at the worst possible time....never travel with just one....we take three different bank cards, plus credit cards....ZMBNA and capital 1 are the two i rely on for the best rates and the lowest fee (none to the bank and only 1% to visa or M/C)....

i am planning on doing the same on my upcoming thailand (no problem there, i have used cards for years) and bali trip
rhkkmk is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 08:32 PM
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Regarding carrying cash in Japan; I presume you are coming from the USA. In Japan, you need to change the thinking about carrying cash. While I rarely carry more than $100 in the USA, in Japan, we were carrying up to $1000 routinely. I don't think it was that unusual. I saw plenty of business people dishing out many 10,000 yen bills out of their wallets. Of course, I used a money belt so I would not lose all these cash at once. We also distributed the cash between two of us.

I did not use TCs.

I used credit cards as much as possible. But the acceptance was more limited than the USA.
nickn is offline  

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