Using Cards abroad

#1
Thought I'd give this a shot to see if anyone can help / Someone else can gain and learn some info!

I'm asking if anyone has some good ideas about taking money out whilst abroad? My wife's family live abroad and she goes twice a year and I go with one on at least one if not both trips.
We generally use our debt cards to take money out of the wall - Usually the max amount to soften charges. I know all about the pre-pay cards, but the amount varies each time we go & we do buy stuff in local shops, so pre-pay credit cards aren't best when your on the local market!
Are there an good accounts or other ways to reduce the amount we pay out?
 
#3
EDM, I do the same as you and just use the hole in the wall when I am there and just put it down as part of the trip. Would be intresting if there is a way of not paying the charges.
 
#4
They always harp on about "Use your card abroad for free" but that's only for debt transactions and really you need cash as well! The little old lady down the road from my In-laws doesn't generally do Visa when I'm buying 40 fags!
 
#5
I use HSBC debit cards for which there are no charges worldwide as long as you use an HSBC ATM.
 
#7
For a good few years we used to get last minute cheapies to Barbados, and with losing so much in charges we opened a local bank account, and a few weeks before our trip would post a cheque over, it seemed to work well, and we got cards to use in any hole in the wall on the island.

Could anyone confirm this is still an option?
 
#8
Unfortunately you do not specify a destination, if it is within the EuroZone Brittany Ferries have introduced a MasterCard® Prepaid Euro Card, once you have the card you can top it up anywhere that has a internet connection, just log on and transfer money from your UK card to the Eurocard. The Card Issue fee is £6.00, providing you load more than €300 on the first loading there is no Card Issue fee. An International Point of Sale Transaction is FREE in the EuroZone. Euro ATM withdrawal fee is: €1.50. The card can be loaded to a maximum of €7500. Friends who have had one since the early days tell me it saves them around 5% as against a UK debit card.
 
#9
Anyone have any experience of using cards in Cuba? Going there in June and am thinking about getting a pre-pay card to avoid taking too much in cash.
 
#10
Anyone have any experience of using cards in Cuba? Going there in June and am thinking about getting a pre-pay card to avoid taking too much in cash.
Oh dear, deep do-do!!

Cuba is an awkward destination, The last information I have is from a client that visited Cuba in February 2011.

The Cuban peso, denoted by CUP, is one of two official currencies used in Cuba. The CUP does not have any value outside of Cuba, and is used almost exclusively within the nation. For many years, the United States Dollar (USD) has been used by tourists and for "luxury" items. However, usage of the USD is now being replaced by the CUC, or the Cuban convertible peso. Thus, Cuba has two parallel currencies: the CUP and CUC.

Confusing isn't it!!

Will try to explain:

Cuba has developed a rather confusing money system: there are two parallel currencies, each of which is appropriate in different circumstances. The CUP is used mainly for buying essential food-stuffs, the main currency for local citizens is the Cuban peso. However, it has no official international value. Shops selling more "luxury" goods and services, such as cosmetics, and even non-essential food and drink accept the CUC (Cuban convertible peso (informally, the chavito)). As part of a wider move to encourage currency from other parts of the world, particularly Europe, into Cuba, as well as granting more "financial independence" from the US. The surcharge on US dollars means tourists are encouraged to bring European currencies instead, and the main tourist areas now also accept Euros in exchange for goods.

NOTE: The local Cuban pesos (CUP), or "Moneda Nacional", are used only by Cubans - they are of no use to tourists.

Exchanging Money:

You can change your money at the CADECA (money exchange bureau) at the Airport on landing in Cuba or in its offices around Cuba as well as in the Cuban banks and hotels. If you are exchanging cash, it would be better to travel with £10, £20, £50 notes. The exchange rate is around 37.8 CUC to £1. The cashier at the CADECA will examine each note carefully sometimes by use of ultra violet light and also by manual inspection so it is very important that all your UK sterling notes are in good condition.

Credit or Debit Cards:

The following applies: You can use any type of credit card (American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discovery, JCB, Banamex, Bancomer, Carnet, Diners Club International, etc.), providing it is not issued by a bank that has any connection with the United States. Therefore First Direct, Capital One, and MBNA cards will not work in Cuba. UK debit cards with the VISA logo will not be able to be used to purchase goods or pay for trips but can be used in ATM's or to draw money from a CADECA office

NOTES:

1. When you get CUCs from an ATM or a bank/cadeca, your bank statement will show US dollars, since the amount will be converted by the Cuban banks from CUC to US dollars, and your own bank will then charge you the equivalent in your home currency.

2. Whilst the major hotels will generally accept credit cards, shops and restaurants typically won't - even if the logos are displayed, they will usually make up some story about the machine not working and will ask you to pay in CUCs. And if you use a 50 CUC note (or bigger) anywhere other than a hotel, don't be surprised if they ask to see your passport.

3. ATM's are not that easy to find


I've gone way beyond answering your simple question, but I've assumed that you haven't been to Cuba before, so I hope that what I've told you has been helpful. Need more advice, PM me.
 
#11
Soooo in summery: use cash! :) You've added a bit to what I've already researched so yes thanks that has been of help.

Just not too comfortable taking large amounts of cash about in general, will be ok once I get it to a safe but more the in transit element!! Might have to invest in a moneybelt then methinks
 
#12
HSBC do the business, but I had to move after post fraud security got ramped up an I couldn't function out the uk

santander seem ok but cost you 1.25 quid per transacrion overseas....which is a bit of a piss take
 
#14
Take money, a few big notes:the 500 Euro notes are great for this as they don't take up much space. Buy a money belt to keep them in if you are worried about security.
 
#15
Take money, a few big notes:the 500 Euro notes are great for this as they don't take up much space. Buy a money belt to keep them in if you are worried about security.
Except nobody will except the 500 euro note due to the high levels of forgeries , in Spain not even the banks except them! Crazy but true ! The 200 euro note is a far better option

Osta
 
#16
Except nobody will except the 500 euro note due to the high levels of forgeries , in Spain not even the banks except them! Crazy but true ! The 200 euro note is a far better option

Osta
Could be,not had problems with 500's so far myself moving between Cairo and Spain, but if it's a problem 200's are nearly as portable I suppose.
 
#17
I dont exactly advertise the fact but I usually travel with hods of cold, hard, cash. Where relevant and possible I usually exchange before I go, the full amount that I expect to need. I carry it on my person but in multiple places - top tip keep most of it somewhere other than your "holiday" wallet - which should have the minimum of other low value stuff in it to make it look convincing (Drivers licence for example). If mugged (which has never happened to me perhaps because I try not to look like an obvious "rich tourist") hand over your wallet without a fight to minimise your chances of injury.
 
#18
Just back from Spain and had no problem using cash but limited to 50 Euro notes. Had cards just in case. Also worthwhile phoning your card company beforehand saying you are travelling to Kigali or wherever and telling them that you may be using your card in that area, always works for me since getting refused when buying some tat for the missus years ago.
 
#19
Yep, a good idea to phone your card company before you travel and let them know where you are off to. Doesn't always work for me cos sometimes I move to some shit hole at very short notice, but I also use online banking, so can send the bank an email from their own website which does the trick. Calling the HSBC by phonr can be a pain in the arrse. After doing the security crap you then have to sit and listen to some recorded stuck up bitches voice giving you your account balances at Christ knows what cost on a mobile phone, before they will connect you to a sub human in a call centre. Actually my last jibe was unfair, I had a very big row with HSBC a few years ago about not wanting to talk to ******* Raschid in ******* India about my account and they now have UK call centres for some customers.
 
#20
Just back from Spain and had no problem using cash but limited to 50 Euro notes. Had cards just in case. Also worthwhile phoning your card company beforehand saying you are travelling to Kigali or wherever and telling them that you may be using your card in that area, always works for me since getting refused when buying some tat for the missus years ago.
Barclaycard allows you to notify them of any future overseas travel via the website if you have electronic access.

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