First, let me thank all that have contributed to previous posts on this issue! I have been doing some research and still find myself confused. I am traveling solo to Cambodia from USA in a couple of months. I am concerned about how to best secure my money, and manage it while there. I have looked at the Visa Travel card although was unable to find charges for using while abroad. I also still have enough time to open a banking acct with a provider that doesn't charge a lot. I also have the option of only carrying cash which, after trying to decipher all the information on the forums, seems like the way I will go.
Please, does anyone know of US banks that do not charge currency exchange and, do you know since most ATM's in Cambodia dispense USD will there be no exchange fee? Also, do you know who is charging the least amount for withdrawls in Cambodia? And which ATM's to use while there? Current info is greatly appreciated!
Thank you in advance for answering questions that have already been asked :-)
#1 CoraBora has been a member since 16/4/2012. Posts: 3
I'm from Canada and from what I gathered we are similar to the US with regards to banking. Unlike Aus/NZ/Europe there are no cards which charge NO service fees. However there are ones which charge low service fees (i.e. $3 vs $5 per withdrawal). The same goes for the travel credit cards - I didn't use the travel credit cards (i.e. visa) because the fees were actually higher than using my bank debit card (which can also be replaced if lost or stolen).
I wouldn't carry all your cash with you. If it gets stolen/lost, once it's gone it's gone, and you'll have nothing. I'm not saying be paranoid, but just take precautions.
I took my debit card which charged me $3 per withdrawal overseas (not including fees local bank ATMs might charge) and withdrew enough for about a week at a time (use in-room safes or store at reception of guesthouses, don't carry $100s with you unless necessary).
I also had one AMEX traveller's cheque in case my cards were stolen or lost to hold me over until they could be replaced. Traveller's cheques can be replaced if they are lost or stolen, but they can be a pain to cash.
Bring USD for Cambodia, don't bother exchanging anything into Riel. You will get riel as small change (typically $2 or less, about 4000 riel = $1 USD). I saved my riel for drinking money/small snacks and meals. It is useless outside Cambodia, you won't be able to exchange it outside the country, so spend it all before you leave!
I'm not sure how long you are going, but for the first week if you can, take smaller denomination USD ($20 or less) as $50 or larger are difficult to use because people will not have enough change.
Once in the country using large bills is unavoidable as the smallest ATMs dispense is in $50 denominations (save these to pay 'big' expenses like Angkor, accomodation, day trips/activities as they are most likely to have enough change).
There is one ATM which does not charge a LOCAL withdrawal fee (can't remember what the name was, but ask around once you are there, someone will know). You will still have to pay an international withdrawal fee to your bank back in the US.