Credit, Debit, or TC?

Jun 16th, 2002, 09:53 AM
  #1  
Biz
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Credit, Debit, or TC?

What should we bring with us? All of the above? I am told not to bring much cash (or traveler's checks) if any at all, but I can't fathom getting by on plastic alone. I also read about debit cards not working very well. Looking forward to opinions on this. Is $1000-$1500 total for nine days enough to eat and have little fun? Maybe purchase an item or two?
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 10:15 AM
  #2  
Elizabeth
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Went to Paris for 7 days in April. Brought $500 in Euro, no debit card, no TC, just Visa and Mastercard. Paid for all purchases(souvenirs, tours and food with credit cards. Had to work at spending the last couple hundred Euro before flying back home to bring balance to zero.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 10:17 AM
  #3  
Elizabeth
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Sorry. Didn't mention in previous post. We are two adults in our 50's.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 10:20 AM
  #4  
julie
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What has worked best for us is to arrive with approximately $100. in foreign currency then use the ATM card for additional cash along the way. Ours is a straight ATM (not a debit card) DOES NOT have the visa/mastercard logo and DOES require a 4 digit pin whenever used)....best kind for security purposes.
For restaurants, hotels, most major purchases we always use our American Express. We've traveled to Europe this way for years and never carried traveler's checks. If for any reason (never happened yet) we were unable to obtain spending cash due to a glitch with the ATM card, we could resort to obtaining cash off of our AmEx card. Julie
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 10:25 AM
  #5  
lynette
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Just returned. The ATM machines were all over and very easy to use. Choice of languages on all. Most didn't charge any service charge. The highest service charge I paid was 1.25
My Chase mastercard gave me good exchange rate on everything but charged a percentage for every transaction. Call your credit company first. My daughter paid no transaction fee on her credit card.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 11:03 AM
  #6  
Dick Yeager
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Biz,

This subject has been discussed a thousand times on this board. Do a search. You will get more information than you know what to do with.

In effect, use regular ATM and Visa/MasterCard that only charges a 1% conversion fee. You will have to call your credit card company to find this out.

If your CC company adds 2% to the conversion fee, get a different credit card.

Doing a search will enlighten you on all of this.

Dick
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 11:15 AM
  #7  
Biz
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Gee Dick, I'm sorry to bore you with my question. I've done a search, and read the opinions of various travel books. I just wanted some personal opinions and experiences to include in my decision making process. I like to be well informed. If seeing the same questions here bothers you so much, maybe you should just not answer them. Then you don't have to worry about it.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 03:17 PM
  #8  
Marcie
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We too just returned and had no problem with our ATM card (not a debit card but the regular ATM which requires a Pin Number. No problems at all. We too use American Express where ever possible and there is no per transaction fee. We obtained a small amount us currency prior to leaving the states, a free service if you have American Express. The currency was ordered by phone and we received it within a few days. We just felt safer having some currency upon arriving.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 05:49 PM
  #9  
Sue
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A word of caution - if you have an ATM which is also a debit card and it gets lost or stolen you may have your account wiped out of all money. My suggestion is to take a credit card and an ATM. However ask your bank to put a maximum of $1.00 withdrawal on the debit part of the card. As a debit card you do not need a pin number and that is where the problem can occur. We never take cash or TC - when we arrive we make a small ATM withdrawal and then use credit card.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 06:30 PM
  #10  
Christina
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I always bring "all of the above", but I know many people don't like to take any TCs. They are completely free to me at AAA as I only get them in US$ so there is no conversion cost, so I figure why not. I also, of course, charge major items to CCs, but I do not charge minor items or even cheaper meals, I prefer to pay local cash for less expensive things (and I don't really buy expensive things, to be honest, my hotel bill is about it, maybe a train ticket or so). Actually, it would be impossible to pay for all the food I eat with CCs as many places won't take them where I eat, or more likely have a minimum purchase amount which I would not reach for snacks or meals except perhaps dinner. You can probably get by without any problem with only plastic, I wouldn't worry about it, as long as you have the usual precautions (CIRRUS or PLUS network, checking account-attached, etc). I don't take much US cash with me when I travel at all.

I am one of those who only has an ATM card, not a debit card, and I had no problem using it in Europe last month (despite the dire predictions of the bank staff person trying to talk me out of getting one to replace the debit card I didn't want--she didn't know what she was talking about probably, although it was amusing how much resistance I got from the bank about not wanting a debit card--found out they make more money off those transactions and it costs them less to process than a PIN transaction). It is true if something terrible goes wrong, you can get cash from a credit card.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 06:38 PM
  #11  
Christina
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oh, I know a lot of people hate TCs, so if someone is going to read my post and tell me I'm stupid because I pay a conversion fee for cashing them, I know that, I meant there is no conversion fee to get them if you don't buy them in a foreign currency (which is one reason why it's not a good idea to get them in foreign currency, you pay for it even if you never use them). I don't have as bad fortune as many people with TCs, I seem to find places with rates close to 2-3 pct over bank rate, similar to many people's CCs, without that much problem. I know a place in Paris that gives you bank rate minus a fee of only about 1-1/2 pct. well, chacun a son gout, as they say.

BTW there was an article on debit cards in the Wash Post this morning which had a few diff. notes on the liability issue which were interesting. It's not quite as bad as I had feared (and the bank clerk didn't even know the real facts, so couldn't tell me)--according to the paper, the money is not actually withdrawn instantaneously, but probably the next day (for a purchase). Also, it said your liability is only $50 or something if you report it within 2 days (I think) of "when you first discovered it missing" Now I thought it was just within 2 days and I thought I might not even know it was missing in that time period and the bank clerk did not know that either (or didn't tell me). However, how in the world a bank is going to know when you first discovered it missing is a mystery to me, and I wouldn't trust them on that one. It didn't matter to me, I didn't want it anyway and I had never used it as a debit card (only at an ATM for cash) in the entire years I've had it.
 
Jun 16th, 2002, 08:46 PM
  #12  
kelly
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So true....don't let your experience end up like my Uncle's. His ATM was lost (in England) and the thieves wiped out his checking account in a matter of hours. It was one of the kind that did not require a pin number and the thieves bought 1st class airline plane tickets to Asia!! He was back in the USA 2 weeks before he finally got it all squared away and had to cut his vacation short due to this huge mess. Make sure that you have the ATM (not a debit with the mastercard/visa logo) that ALWAYS requires a pin number. This way should you lose your card, you're safe and no one can deplete your account. Kelly B.
 
Jun 17th, 2002, 08:18 AM
  #13  
Jim
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I am reposting the text of my earlier post regarding my experiences with debit card in Italy. Just be prepared. Unless you KNOW that your debit card really works in Italy, be prepared with other options. It kinda makes me mad when people post that you should never take any cash with you and rely just on ATM's:

Message: Just returned from two weeks in Italy. I took with me 400EURO TC's (left over from convent deposit needs) and 500 Euro currency purchase prior to trip from Thomas Cook and my VISA debit card along with a couple of misc. credit cards. Arrived on a Sunday and did not try to use the Debit card. However on Monday I tried to make a withdrawal and was refused, the Bancomat telling me that my card was "not authorized for international use." Prior to my trip I had spoken to the bankcard department at my bank, checking out the issues discussed on this forum about loss of a card and unatuhorized use, etc. I told them that I would be travelling in Italy, and even went so far as to have them send me a new card, since the mag stripe on mine was getting a little worn. And yer I have a 4 digit PIN. I talked to them at least 8 times over various issues relating to the use of the debit card in Italy. I called my bank (7 hour time difference) and as it turns out (3 phone calls and most of a 20 EURO phone card) there is a significant problem with the integration of the Cirrus/Star/VISA network in Europe and many (no exact number) of bank networks in the USA, and they knew before I left that there was a strong probability that my card wouldn't work in Italy. In the end my debit card never worked (many apologizes from VISA), and I was stuck with having to get cash advances from Thomas Cook and American Express. This was somewhat inconvenient because there isn't a Thomas Cook or AMEX on every street corner, and you are limited to 230 EURO per day cash advance. I guess the reason for my post is that I see many pepole here tell other posters that there is no need to take cash or travellers checks with them, and I am here to say that I am glad that I had a source of money to fall back on during those first couple of days in Rome. BTW, the lines at FCO ATM machines were huge!! As many as 50 peolpe waiting at several we walked by.

 
Jun 17th, 2002, 08:53 AM
  #14  
Biz
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Thank you all for your advice and experiences. You have been a wealth of information, and I'm now more comfortable with making the decision. Jim, we will definitely bring a bit of cash (euro)with us, just in case. I would have a major fit if I couldn't get cash with my atm. We don't have AMEX so I pray that the ATM works. We are bringing a MC, but our limit is only $1000, and we can't function on that alone. What if I want a coffee? They would think I was crazy trying to use a chargecard for $1.00
 

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