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What is the safest/ best way to carry money in SEA?

What is the safest/ best way to carry money in SEA?

Feb 17th, 2010, 07:31 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 654
What is the safest/ best way to carry money in SEA?

I have a Capitol One credit card to use when charging is possible; but, I know I'll need cash at times. What is the method is best for avoiding high foreign exchange fees? Travelers checks, US currency, ATMs, etc.
We'll be in Bangkok, Northern Thailalnd, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Pawleys is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 08:45 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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I use cash, travelers checks and debit cards in Thailand. For Thailand bring new currency. I bring the largest I can get to cut down on bulk. US dollars at $100 and $50 sizes get more than smaller bills but other major currencies are accepted. For travelers checks I think Thailand is the best country in Asia for cashing them. In Thailand TC's even get a hair more than cash when you change them over to Thai baht. Other countries in Asia not as easy to cash them but it can be done.

Wait until you get to Thailand to change any money over to get the best rate. Bank money changers are available 24 hours a day at the airport and easy to locate in the city.

I get my travelers checks for free from my credit union, that same credit union also pays for some of my ATM charges even overseas. I opened up that account specifically because I am overseas a lot.

For Thailand there is a 150 baht surcharge on every ATM withdrawal (plus you get your normal CC or debit card charges on top of that!) When you make a withdrawal take out the most you can at one time so you don't have a lot of fees for small withdrawals. Travelers checks are a little more popular now because the fee to cash a travelers check is only 33 baht. Only bring the largest size travelers checks so you don't pay lots of fees for cheap amounts.

I don't personally use credit cards for anything overseas. I do have them for emergencies. I pay cash for cheap purchases, especially from stores and restaurants. This cuts down the chance of credit card fraud.

Remember to notify your bank or credit union if you intend to use credit or debit cards overseas. If you do not notify your bank or CU that you will be overseas that ATM withdrawal may be denied because fraud is suspected.

When I went to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam I brought US dollars with me. Don't leave these three countries with their currency because no one wants to change it in a different country. Some border areas with Cambodia and Laos will also take a little Thai baht.

Good luck.
SirHalberd is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 09:01 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 524
I forgot to mention that I use the safe provided by the hotel, either the one in your room or the one at the front desk. I don't leave the key to that safe out in plain sight either. When I walk around I have enough cash with me to see me through only that day of spending. If something comes up missing from my room I would first suspect a fellow tourist than a long term hotel employee. I lock all bags when I am not in my room.

When using trains, buses, planes - any transportation in any country - keep your valuables with you at your seat or in plain sight. This means passports, cash, jewelry and anything you would cry over if it came up missing.

I do record the serial numbers of my travelers checks and hundred dollar bills in email form and then save that email into memory. If my cash or TC's are stolen I can go to the internet and pull up that email and get the serial numbers. I also keep "need to remember" stuff in email form for any emergencies that come up.

Have a nice trip.
SirHalberd is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 11:39 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,687
With US currency, you won't pay exchange fees, but there is the convenience factor and how comfortable you are with carrying lots of cash. I use ATMs. I have a card that reimburses me for any ATM charges and charges only 1% on the exchange (which typically gets me a better exchange rate than cash). Do some research on what your bank charges. My regular bank charges $5 per transaction (plus the ATM may charge you a dollar or two) plus 3% on foreign exchange. That's no bargain!

I do always carry a few US$100 bills with me "just in case" I can't find a working ATM, etc. I haven't used travelers checks in decades, though some people still like them. It's more of a hassle to exchange them in my experience.

I use credit cards for large purchases, but never use debit cards. You don't have the same fraud protection on your debit card as you do on your credit card. If someone stole your debit card info, they could clean out your bank account.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 11:00 AM
  #5  
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Thanks for your replies. I guess everyone handles it differently. Kathie what sort of card charges 1%? I will plan to carry some US currency as well.
Pawleys is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 11:26 AM
  #6  
 
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There are a number of cards that charge 1%. Often, the best place to shop for such cards is a credit union. Mine happens to be through E*Trade bank.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 12:27 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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I never leave the cash in the room or in a safe. I use a money belt to carry my passport, cash and credit cards and only carry a small amount of cash in my pocket for the day. My husband and I divide the cash.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 06:28 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Capital One charges 1%
zainib is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 06:47 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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zainib, Capital one is a credit card, (which Pawleys note that they have) I'm talking about an ATM card.

I do use room safes to keep passports, plane tickets, extra cash, etc.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 07:07 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 107
kathie-whoops, right you are! As banks consolidate, fees seem to be going up. My old WAMU card charged 1% and no foreign ATM fee. Then Chase took them over and promptly raised it to 3% and $3 per withdrawal.
zainib is offline  
Feb 19th, 2010, 06:57 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Yup, zainib, I live in Seattle, the home of Wa Mu. Everyone who had Wa Mu accounts is complaining about Chase!
Kathie is offline  

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