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Old 29-07-2014, 11:00   #1
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Money Changing & Acquisition

What have folks found to be the most cost effective way of getting cash at foreign ports of call? Airports are easy because there's always a way of getting cash there, but when sailing into a small port, what do we do?
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Old 29-07-2014, 12:18   #2
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

When sailing into a small port, we have some cash in hand. And a credit card in the pocket.

Hardly any port is so small that an ATM will not be beyond reach.

And then when things get really offshore, most small nations are happy to accept USD or EUR.

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Old 29-07-2014, 12:43   #3
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Hardly any port is so small that an ATM will not be beyond reach.
I have found that at least some ATM transactions in the 3rd world don't work as expected (or work at all). This is coming from the perspective of a person whose home account is from the USA, so your mileage may vary I suppose, depending on where and with whom you bank. So while I agree that ATMs are ubiquitous, it isn't always straightforward in my experience.
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Old 29-07-2014, 19:52   #4
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

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I have found that at least some ATM transactions in the 3rd world don't work as expected (or work at all). This is coming from the perspective of a person whose home account is from the USA, so your mileage may vary I suppose, depending on where and with whom you bank. So while I agree that ATMs are ubiquitous, it isn't always straightforward in my experience.
We did not visit any 3rd world countries.

We sailed via the West Indies to Panama, then onwards to FP/Cooks/Tonga/NZ/NCal/AUS to the Mascarenas/RSA/Brasil back to the EU.

Along this route, only in FP and NCal did we have anny issue using an ATM and then only with our (I believe VISA) card. The other one worked all right (we had a Mastercard back then).

So, if you sail to some 3rd world countries, just get a pile of USD notes, I think. But I am not sure, as we did not visit any.

PS On the second thought we did visit C Verdes! But with so little that can be had there, we did not need an ATM at all.

Cheers,
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Old 29-07-2014, 20:16   #5
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

atms work well in caribbean usvi and bvi, and in gom, and in mexico. they work fine. avoid cashola wherever you go and use only bank teller machines, not cashola. cashola will probably rob ye. might not, but prolly will.

only place i could not get money from an atm was cedros island village.
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Old 29-07-2014, 20:29   #6
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

We used ATM's everywhere, including 3rd world countries. No issues, except once when a machine ate the card. Took a couple of hours to get it back. We had spares... Sometimes the local machines have pretty small daily limits though.

Take a card that has the + symbol on it, then look for machines with that symbol. They ALL worked for us, with that symbol, even when we could not read the words on the machine!
We had a small amount of $USD with us - never used them....
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Old 29-07-2014, 23:36   #7
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

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What have folks found to be the most cost effective way of getting cash at foreign ports of call? Airports are easy because there's always a way of getting cash there, but when sailing into a small port, what do we do?
My life changed forever when sometime back in the late 80's I pulled Thai Baht from an ATM at the side of a rice paddy...

Until then it was the Amex office and a personal check.

I still routinely road warrior all over the place. Carry at least 2 different cards (I carry 3) ATM limits seem to be down around $200/day lately. I called my banks and had my limit raised to $500.

In a pinch I could get $1500 a day.

Now shop around for foreign exchange rate treatment, foreign transaction fees and ATM fees.

The best card I have is my credit union. $1.50 ATM fee is all I have ever been charged. Worst is BofA. Crap exchange rate, a 1 12/%(?) foreign transaction fee and I think a $3.00 ATM fee. My local Singapore account is also quite good.

Consider getting something pretty globally ubiquitous like Citi - I hate them but they are just about everywhere you wanna be...

If ever stuck you could go to the real Citi bank and maybe get some sympathy. Although my last experience with that was in the 90s when Citi Manila basically said, "No we are a different Citi. Can't help ya..." I dumped Citi after that but maybe they have changed again.

I would probably carry $1,000 in cash on the boat if I was routinely going to far flung places.
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Old 30-07-2014, 10:00   #8
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

Thanks guys. All great information!
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Old 30-07-2014, 10:17   #9
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

While my travels to smaller countries is limited. On trips in the US and to Europe Charles Schwabb Bank/investments is great. No ATM fees and a decent exchange rate.


When traving I isolate the checking account from investing and manually transfer money. On one trip we had "too good" of a time and I did not trust the local internet. One call and some serious id checking and the checking account was funded.
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Old 30-07-2014, 10:53   #10
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

We travel a lot and use ATMs all of the time, we have a US ATM and a UK ATM with chip. The most problems we have are in Antigua, neither card works at most of the ATMs - none of the machines in Falmouth or English Harbour. Found one ATM in the supermarket at Jolly Harbour which works. Other wise we actually have to go into the bank and fill out paperwork and show a photo ID to get money out of their ATM!

In St Martin on the Dutch side got USD, on the French side got Euros. This can be a disadvantage as some restaurants on the French side take USD at a a rate of 1 to 1 for bills in euros.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:06   #11
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Re: Money changing & acquisition

Here in the W Carib have used ATMs almost exclusively for almost a decade from USA and Central American accounts. Only ever had one case of fraud, which occurred in San Andres, Colombia, but was quickly resolved by my bank. Still, I check my accounts regularly just to be sure. Because of this, I caught the San Andres issue the next day. As I recall there is a time limit on notifying your bank.

For more remote spots with no ATM, like the San Blas, start hitting the ATM hard a few days before heading there.

Some countries here in the W Carib prefer US$ (Belize, Panama) and many places in other CA countries will often accept US$, particularly in more developed areas.

But, ATM fees are getting ugly....got dinged for $4 recently in Casco Viejo, Panama...thats the highest Ive seen, but $3 is becoming common.
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Old 30-07-2014, 13:31   #12
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Re: Money Changing & Acquisition

This may go without saying, so I'll say it.

When traveling I leave half my cards and such in the hotel safe. For walking around (especially at night) I have a travel wallet. It carries one credit card, a form of id (usually my drivers license) and some cash.

I can't count the number of times I've listened to first hand accounts of people losing wallets (for all kinds of reasons including theft) - it is always a huge drama when traveling.

There are two thoughts on carrying of passports (regardless of what local law says - i.e. you must carry) - 1. Carry your passport with you because the country could blow up at any minute and you may wanna go straight to the airport. 2. (what I do) Leave you passport under lock and key and don't carry it around.

I figure if the country is that blowed up the last place to be seen is the airport. During one of the Thai coups a few years ago those that went to the airport got stuck for days. Several folks I know took the bus to the coast and the ferry to Langkawi and were out in like 24 hours.

Be travel smart...
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:31   #13
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Re: Money Changing & Acquisition

Why spend so much time getting cash from ATMs? Get a good exchange rate and no foreign transaction fee credit card and use it instead and just pay it off each month!
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:38   #14
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Re: Money Changing & Acquisition

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Why spend so much time getting cash from ATMs? Get a good exchange rate and no foreign transaction fee credit card and use it instead and just pay it off each month!
Outside of major cities, places that accept CCs are rare in Central America. Cash is king almost everywhere.
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Old 30-07-2014, 14:42   #15
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Re: Money Changing & Acquisition

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...
There are two thoughts on carrying of passports (regardless of what local law says - i.e. you must carry) - 1. Carry your passport with you because the country could blow up at any minute and you may wanna go straight to the airport. 2. (what I do) Leave you passport under lock and key and don't carry it around.
...
Depends on the country. Some are OK with, and may even encourage, you to carry only a copy of your passport to avoid theft (USA passports are popular), but others want to see the real deal at checkpoints.
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