Use of ATM cards in foreign country?

Apr 25th, 2016, 10:53 AM
  #1  
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Use of ATM cards in foreign country?

Hi!

I will be travelling to a foreign country next year during the winter time (not sure yet where, though...)

I've heard from friends and family that they recommend me bringing only some cash and an ATM Debit card. They say it's safer and maybe pick-pocketers won't be able to steal my cash (but wouldn't they still have an equal chance of pick pocketing my cash, along with my debit card???)

In the past, I've personally always brought cash with me. This would be, even up to $1000 dollars in a small wallet, that I kept with me at all times (either in a purse or in my pocket), and I've never had any incidents with it being, well, stolen.

I'll be traveling for about 2-3 weeks, and it'll be by myself (maybe (?) with a couple other friends), and I'll be obviously buying souvenirs, tickets, and whatnot while at a foreign country.

Could someone explain to me "why?" is it recommended to bring a card instead? I mean, surely the security purposes, but fraud is always possible in a foreign country. Plus, if I bring a debit card with me, then there will be international fees or foreign-purchase charges that will incur, which I actually don't want.

So why should I bring a debit card? Is it truly safer? Why not cash, and just bring a little bit when in public? What about the foreign-transaction fees? Does no one care about them (lack of better wording - odd question.)?

Please explain!! If you need more info, let me know.
AshleysTravels is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:06 AM
  #2  
 
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A lot of people have figured out that using a credit card is even safer, since your loss is limited by notifying the cc company. If you are from the US there are forex-free credit cards, some with no annual fee and with cash back. (Hint Capital One). Debit cards may be slightly riskier but that depends on the company policy if it's lost or stolen. When I bring a debit card it's from an account that I keep a low balance in.

I carry a small amount of USD cash for when I first arrive and emergency money.

If you are from another country such as Australia or Europe or are too young to have good credit then I understand there are some types of prepaid debit cards that are popular, due to lower fees, but I don't know much about them.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:08 AM
  #3  
 
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You should bring a debit card as a back up plan for emergencies, even if you can't see your way to using it for every-day funds.

FYI the transaction fees depend mostly on your home bank account and their arrangements. Some have fees some don't.

Sure you can travel with $1000 in cash, but just because you've been lucky in the past doesn't guarantee the future.



Not if they are both in the hotel safe or in a money belt worn under your clothes.
suze is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:09 AM
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You can't spend dollars in foreign counties, so you will have to exchange for local currency. The fee for that will be higher than pulling money from an ATM.
elberko is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:13 AM
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Cards are, in general, safer than cash. When cash is stolen there is no recourse. And it costs more to exchange cash at your destination than getting cash from an ATM.

Regarding having everything stolen at once, experienced travelers know to never carry cards & cash all in one place. So some in an under-clothes pouch, some in a zippered jacket pocket and some deep in a purse. If the bad guys get one stash, there's another 1 or 2 so we're never without resources (sorry Don).
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:17 AM
  #6  
 
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To each his own.

I never carry more than the EQUIVALENT of $150 to $200 in local currency whether I am home or traveling and many times I carry even less cash. I use a no foreign transaction fee credit card for the majority of my expenses and an ATM/debit card to get more cash as needed. I have a "preferred bank account" which credits back any foreign ATM fees which are assessed if I withdraw funds from an "affiliated foreign bank". Even if I withdraw funds from a non-affiliated bank the transaction is small (usually under $3US) so I find it is inconsequential and worth the peace of mind I get by not risking carrying large amounts of cash.

As for the possibility of loss by theft of my credit card or ATM/debit card I find that risk is small since I never have large sums of money to "flash", I have no bulges in my pocket indicating a wallet full of money and I take the same common sense precautions I do to protect my money and credit cards "back home" and I never have to worry about someone watching my every move.

There's just no need for carrying large amounts of cash these days.
RoamsAround is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:49 AM
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Let me put it another way:

Scenario #1 - Your purse/wallet with $1,000 is lost or stolen. You are out $1,000.

Scenario #2 - Your purse with $150 is lost or stolen. You are out $150.

Which would you rather have happen.

FYI - If your credit card or ATM card is stolen a call to your bank or cc company (most have both domestic and international toll free call options) will absolve you of any fraudulent transactions and have a replacement card(s) sent to you by an overnight delivery service.
RoamsAround is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 11:59 AM
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While we're on the subject, can anyone tell me how to make a "collect" call from Europe to the number given on the cards in the US?
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:06 PM
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All my cards have a non-880 number to call from overseas.
elberko is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:16 PM
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Right, of course. 800 inside the US, local number for "collect" calls. But don't we need a live person to make the "collect" call? If not, how is it done?
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:22 PM
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Oh, got it.

No idea...always figured if I needed to call, the call cost would be the least of my worries.
elberko is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:28 PM
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You just dial the number that says "from outside the US" on the back of the card.
suze is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:29 PM
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Some CC websites have a way to report lost/stolen cards there. I guess that's my back-up solution.

The only time I had to speak to a CC company was long ago when I was in Bali. No phone. In the boonies. The good news was there was a place not far away to make calls. I requested reimbursement for the call when I got home, which they gave me.
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:30 PM
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But Suze, how does that make it "collect"?
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:38 PM
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I called the number long distance from Mexico at an internet cafe (because my ATM card would not work at any bank machine). I assume there is something automatic about the number that accepted the international call? I did have to pay a small amount for the time since I was using the internet cafe telephone.
suze is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 12:53 PM
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That occurred to me after I asked, that the number automatically reverses the charge. I somehow don't quite believe it but hope it will remain forever a mystery.
MmePerdu is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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I have a Magic Jack number with an app on my smart phone so all I need is an internet connection and I can call the US 800 Toll Free number. Of course, I can also call the "Outside the US Number" if I wanted. Either one works for me.

And, yes, the Outside the US numer automatically bills the charges to the cc company.
RoamsAround is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 01:23 PM
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>>Could someone explain to me "why?" is it recommended to bring a card instead?<<

simple:

• ATMs are cheaper - they give you a better much exchange rate
• It is more secure.
janisj is online now  
Apr 25th, 2016, 03:22 PM
  #19  
 
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ATMs are not ALWAYS cheaper if they charge a hefty withdrawal fee for a low maximum, and you don't need much local cash. Sometimes exchange houses (cambios) give rates that are better than ATMs when you factor in all the fees associated with the latter. It just depends on your card, how much you withdraw, what the local ATM charges (and whether your own bank will rebate that). Plus the exchange rate.

In some cases you don't really need a lot of local cash. Eg, if you prepay your hotels, or have hotels that give better prices (or don't charge local VAT) if you pay with USD or credit cards. There are some countries where guides and tour agencies actually prefer and quote payment in USD, and then give a bad exchange rate back if you pay in local currency.

At least if you travel outside of Europe, that is the case.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 25th, 2016, 09:21 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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Like many who posted here, I have opted for ATM and credit cards that charge minimal (or 0) fees for transactions that involve foreign transactions and that are widely accepted at identifiable ATMs, so I can usually get money with, at best, a nominal fee. But even if there are costs that you would face with the cards YOU have, I think RoamsAround explained it well -- once cash is lost, it is GONE. Once a card is gone, report it, and your money remains yours. NOTE, however, that NOT all companies will replace cards while you are on the road, so consider carrying a back-up just in case.

@ MmePerdu -- I only needed to use those "collect call" options twice, and both instances were YEARS ago, so my information could be out-of-date, but in both of those instances, I heard an operator as the person who answered the call if the charges would be accepted and I heard the person say yes.
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