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Southeast Asia forum

ATM limits

Posted by chicoelnino on 8/1/2011 at 23:00

Will be heading to SE Asia in june for 6 months of travel, and will be visiting Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

I will be putting all my money onto a visa card for the trip and using that to withdraw money each week to last both myself and my g.f for the week.

Can someone please tell me are there any restrictions on the amount you can withdraw in one transaction in ATM's over there?

Basically I plan on withdrawing the equivalent of €500 at the start of every week to last us both.

I'm told that my credit card company will charge me €11.43 for this privilege, but I would want to make sure that I'd be able to withdraw it all in one attempt and not have to do it multiple times in order to take out the required amount.

Can anyone give me some info on ATM fees etc over in Asia. Will I have to play a local atm fee on top of my credit card fee??

#1 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by exacto on 9/1/2011 at 00:19

in thailand you will have to pay a 150 baht local atm fee on top of your credit card fee. that last time i was in thailand i was able to withdraw up to about 20,000 baht per transaction at most atms. some were more though, since they put a limit of 25 on the number of bills you could withdraw, meaning those could distribute up to 25K baht per transaction.

this sounds like an expensive money strategy you have. have you considered using a regular atm card from an account back home? as long as it has a 4-digit pin and is part of any of several major atm networks, you should be able to use it in the countries you will be visiting.

maybe have a look around the message board for feedback on what others have done. hopefully you'll be able to save a bit more of your holiday money for fun stuff rather than feeding the banks bottom line. good luck.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,657
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Posted by chicoelnino on 9/1/2011 at 00:49

My bank card has cirrus and maestro on it, but I heard that its more expensive to use your bank card rather than your credit card out there??

There seems to be alot of confusion on this subject regarding money, so I would really like to get as many opinions on the it as possible.


#3 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by chicoelnino on 9/1/2011 at 05:14

Ok so its 150bath per transaction from ATM machines in Thailand and that applies to either bank card or Credit card?

Surely plenty of ye guys here know of the best cost effective way to have access to your funds while travelling around Asia??

#4 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by raindog on 9/1/2011 at 05:25

When I was in Laos early 2010 you could only draw 800,000 kip at a time from the ATM - that's around 75 euro. In Cambodia and Vietnam I don't remember any restrictions. Also remember in Cambodia ATMs will dispense US$ so you'll need to think in a few currencies while you're there, riel, US$ and your home currency!

#5 raindog has been a member since 26/7/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 10

Posted by chicoelnino on 9/1/2011 at 06:25

And did you use credit card or bank card to take money out? What were the fees in Laos for the ATM withdrawls?

#6 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by busylizzy on 9/1/2011 at 07:44

In Indonesia, I found many machines had a limit of 1,200,000 and 2,000,000rupiah per withdrawal, which was pretty useless. Eventually found some with a 3,000,000rp limit in thge northern end of Legian, but had to walk a bit to get to it.

I wouldn't recommend using your credit card. My bank 'only' charged me NZD$5 (= €2.90). THere has been lots of good discussion in this forum:

and there are some articles here: (under money and finance).

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Posted by ryder80 on 9/1/2011 at 08:44

i actually have a similar question to with drawing funds in SE asia...

i'll be going to hong kong first before heading down, and from what i hear... the bank "HSBC" is the only bank to have a lcation in HK and SE asia...

now would it be advisable to open up an account in HK, and when travelling, just access the fund from the HSBC atm's... but with banks, i'd assume the exchange rates would be pretty bad?

or if you guys have other advice/suggestions, be greatly appreciated to hear them.. thanks

#8 ryder80 has been a member since 19/12/2010. Posts: 83

Posted by chicoelnino on 9/1/2011 at 09:40

You see this is the problem I have(along with alot more I'd say):

Some people say use your credit card, while others say don't and go with the band/debit card!

At the end of it all, I plan to be in SE Asia for 24 weeks = 6 months.

During that time I plan on taking out at the start of every week the required money to last both myself and my girlfriend for the week.

I'm from Ireland and I would like to know if anyone else here is from there so that I could at least find out how they went about the money side of things in Asia?

The way I understand things at the moment is that
a) you get charged by your credit card company for withdrawals in non-euro zone countries(even if you've pre-loaded your card?)

b) you also get hit with a local ATM fee on withdrawals?

#9 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by EricQC on 9/1/2011 at 11:58

There will be local ATM fees on all of your transactions. Bank ATMs will usually have lower fees and some banks may have reciprocal arrangements with banks in Europe and NA to reduce (or even eliminate) the issuing bank's fee. I'd recommend checking with your bank before you go to learn about their fees - and to get their recommendations about how best to manage this.

As noted by others, most ATMs will have maximum withdrawal limits, so your strategy of withdrawing a large amount weekly may not work. You may be able to get more if you go into a bank, but some places (Laos in particular) were limited even there. We found that ATMs frequently ran out of cash, and if the Internet is down, even the banks could not process withdrawals.

Having a big wad of cash to have to safeguard can be a hassle, and can leave you with more currency than you might like to have to exchange upon leaving a country. Steep exchange rates to convert currencies can be much worse than bank fees IMHO.

#10 EricQC has been a member since 9/1/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by raindog on 9/1/2011 at 13:12

Sorry chicoelnino - to be more specific I used my bank card as my account doesn't charge overseas ATM fees (I'm from Australia by the way) - so per transaction I was paying the currency conversion fee (around 1%) charged by my bank and the local ATM fee (a dollar or 2). I rarely found an ATM that wouldn't accept my card. Check the fine print on your account re: overseas ATM charges. ryder80 - I found HSBC one of the better banks in accepting foreign cards. Opening an account in Asia would be a hassle if they let you do it at all.

#11 raindog has been a member since 26/7/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 10

Posted by busylizzy on 9/1/2011 at 14:12

"u see this is the problem I have(along with alot more I'd say):
Some people say use your credit card, while others say don't and go with the band/debit card!"

Yep - and this is the problem when you post a question asking for advice on a forum. There will be 101 different opinions! That's why I suggested you trawl through the links I provided above because you will see a range of suggestions that have already been discussed and you get get some ideas from there.

ONe of the regulars here (and I forget who) has suggested opening a bank account in Bangkok if you are going to be in SEA for a decent amount of time (eg 6 months). I didn't bother last time I went away, but would probably at least look into it the next time I go for an extended period.

I took the approach that you mentioned - ie pull out enough cash to last the week (as well as carried extra for emergencies - and ALWAYS the maximum that the ATM would allow. Having gone through my old travel notes, here are the amounts that I was able to withdraw (always the maximum allowed, except maybe in Singapore, which may have allowed more):

- Indonesia - 1,200,000rp (most common) to 3,000,000rp (harder to find) - in Bali and Lombok.
- Vietnam - 20,000,000VDG from ATM in Hanoi..
- SIngapore - $800SGD from ATM
- Cambodia - $800USD from ATMs in Sihanvoukville and PP

In terms of bank fees that you will have to pay, it could be worth checking around your local banks and see which has the lowest fees, even if it means opening an account with them. Or open one in Thailand.

Good luck.

#12 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by travellingsarah on 9/1/2011 at 19:15 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Whilst it is possible to get 20,000,000VND (around $1,000) in one go, the only place I know which has this limit are the ATMs at the big ANZ on Hoan Kiem - there might be others at main banks I guess. Other than that, the limit is usually 2,000,000 or, sometimes, 4,000,000. The fee is usually 20,000 although ANZ charges 40,000.

Credit cards - we used ours once (a Mastercard) in an emergency and it cost about £9 for one transaction! So certainly much more expensive than our Visa debit cards.

#13 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by Lerina on 28/4/2011 at 16:29

There are few people that are supporters of bank fees for instance out of network ATM fees, unless it’s the bankers that reel in the profits. That said, financial institutions are also beginning to get sued nationwide for improperly assessing the fees. I found this here: Hundreds of banks slapped with lawsuits for ATM fees

#14 Lerina has been a member since 28/4/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by altmtl on 31/8/2011 at 02:25

Laos: "Transaction limits and fees: ANZ allows up to 2 million kip ($250) per transaction with a 40,000 kip ($5) fee and an 8 million kip daily maximum. BCEL now offers 1 million kip per transaction for a 20,000 kip fee; up to 2 million per day. JDB charges 30,000 kip per 1 million kip ($125) transaction, with a 4 million kip per day maximum. PSV does not charge a fee for up to maximum 1 million kip per transaction."

As for Cambodia, I'm a little dismayed that ATM's dispense USD instead of Cambodian Riel?

I always withdraw the max amount to cut down on the fees.

#15 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 992
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