I hurriedly bought a Caxton FX Currency Card (Global Traveller) for my visit to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in July, as I was panicking about money. However I've found out it only holds GBP/US Dollars, so i guess I'll be hit by the ATM exchange rate every time? Any thoughts on whether its worth taking, maybe just for Cambodia? I dont want to use my hsbc card but I'm so confused by it all!
Thanks alot for any advice
#1 andrea13 has been a member since 5/5/2010. Posts: 31
Your HSBC (Visa Debit?) card will charge you a percentage of each ATM withdrawal (e.g. 2.5%) which is added on top of the exchange rate (Loading). The bank will also hit you with a flat fee per withdrawal or use (e.g. purchase in a shop/online while abroad) which is around £1.50 a time. In addition to these fees from your bank, the local/foreign bank might also charge you a small fee per withdrawal.
I think the advantage of the pre-paid (Mastercard) cash card is that they do not charge a set fee for international withdrawals and I do not think many of them charge an exchange rate fee /but you still get hit with local ATM charges. You also have to take the exchange rate that your card company sets. I believe Mastercard is accepted less than Visa (but probably still enough for it not too matter so much)
Did you expect the card to hold Lao Kip? :)
The best thing to do is to take a mix of cash, debit, caxton, travelers cheques. The caxton card would probably work out better than the debit card and you can top it up as you go but i will leave the maths to you.
Personally, I like travelers cheques but I am a lone voice round these parts.
http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money#topcards (caxton comes out second best, scroll down to the pre-paid cards - the top ones are credit cards)
Hope that helps!
In your case...
2.75% Loading (E/R fee)
2% - min. of £1.75, max of £5 PER withdrawal
It looks like you wouldn't be hit making a 'purchase' abroad though.
The advantage of the pre paid cards is that they don't charge you a withdrawal fee. This is usually 2.75% for many standard debit cards, plus perhaps another £1 or so each time you use an ATM. In Thailand you will still be charged by the Bank's whose ATM you are using - 150 Baht each time you use. I imagine that will also be the case in Laos, plus there you can only get a small amount out of an ATM meaning multiple charges for only a relatively small amount.
The exchange rate is applied at the time of loading the card - Caxton's, for example, will take 2.5% off you when you add money to the card.
One advantage is that you cannot overspend, if indeed that is an advantage. Once the money on the card has gone, its gone. You can then load on more, or indeed parents (for example) can load on more for you from home.
Do some reading on here about the best ways to take your money and how best to access it. A variety of methods I think is best. Like Christay, I think travellers cheques can have their place, especially in Laos with their pesky ATMs. You don't want to be totally dependant on ATMs when they suddenly don't work. I'm afraid, though, that at the end of the day the Banks will get some money off you. Its just a matter of damage limitation.
Thank you so much for advice I can actually make sense of! I get so confused by it all haha. I'll take that all into account. Leaving four weeks today woohooooo
#5 andrea13 has been a member since 5/5/2010. Posts: 31