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Old 31-10-2010, 10:07   #1
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Accessing Your Cash in the Bahamas and Caribbean

Hi we are about to head to The Bahamas & Carribean and wonder if anyone has any information on Banks that have ATM's or Branches to allow us to get access to cash along the way. We have a US Wells Fargo Bank and 2 Australian Banks Citibank & CBA. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 31-10-2010, 10:22   #2
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In Abaco and Nassau it's not too bad. Once you head south it's a different story. In all of the Exumas there's only one ATM and that's in Georgetown. Not the most reliable one in the world either. Sometimes only Bahamian currency is available. Not good if you're headed to the Caribbean. Sometimes it's down. Doesn't hurt to have a bit of cash stashed somewhere in the boat. Two years ago my US dollar Visa was compromised and the bank cancelled the card. Took me nearly a month to sort that out when I was in the Exumas. Communications are still not the best. Lucky I had cash.
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Old 31-10-2010, 22:34   #3
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Hi we are about to head to The Bahamas & Carribean and wonder if anyone has any information on Banks that have ATM's or Branches to allow us to get access to cash along the way. We have a US Wells Fargo Bank and 2 Australian Banks Citibank & CBA. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated.
On virtually every island with a population there are ATM machines. On some islands the banks only open one or two days per week but the ATM is virtually always open.
- - These days we use the local currency for all transactions as it is easily obtained from ATM machines. There are "ATM cards" that are different from credit cards. These cards usually have the ATM logos of such things as "Maestro" and others. Your bank can issue an ATM card. Generally you do not use your "credit cards" to get local cash as doing so will trigger immediate interest accumulation to any balance currently on your credit card - in other words, your credit card "grace period" is terminated and you are charged interest on all outstanding and new credit card transactions. Note: a few good banks are different on this point but not many.
- - It is recommended that you have at least two different credit cards so that if one card gets compromised (number stolen/cloned) you have the different credit to use until you can get a replacement with a new account number. That can take several months.
- - Internet access to your banking accounts is extremely important so you can monitor the charges and debits to your bank accounts and move money between accounts.
- - It is normal to keep your checking/ATM accessible account at a low balance and the bulk of your money in a savings account or another account. This is so that should your ATM card get stolen or compromised you only loose minimal amount of money.
- - Most importantly look up on Google or another search engine - ATM Scams and learn the techniques thieves use to get your card number and PIN number. Also how they alter ATM machines to enable them to steal your account number and PIN. Simple procedures involve never using the same card you are going to use in the ATM machine to access the door for the ATM cabinet/alcove. Double-hand hide your finger movements when entering your PIN. NEVER, never allow anybody to assist you with an ATM transaction.
- - For credit cards simple things like never let the card out of your direct vision. Use cash for restaurant and other transactions where they will be taking your card to a remote cashier location.
- - Once you learn the simple precautions you will find that money handling is extremely easy and quick. The only trick is to plan your money so that you run out of "local money" just as you are about to leave for the next place.
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Old 01-11-2010, 00:03   #4
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Orsirisail has given excellent advice.
I had no poblems using my debit card at ATM's but when I used my credit cards at a different island than the last transation I would need to call my home bank to inform them that the transaction was legitimate.
I always made larger withdrawals and conducted my day to day business in cash. NEVER use an outside ATM when you observe locals grouped together watching you.

Renewing an expired card was always interesting as the card is mailed to your US address. After you've received it the phone you call from in the islands call- forwarding number will not match the phone number on record at the bank. Immediately request a supervisior. After dealing with an international call (800 numbers are only free in the US), "voice trees" and transfers and being put on hold and busy signals that cancels your call-- it's time for a beer.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:48   #5
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. . . Renewing an expired card was always interesting as the card is mailed to your US address. After you've received it the phone you call from in the islands call- forwarding number will not match the phone number on record at the bank. Immediately request a supervisior. After dealing with an international call (800 numbers are only free in the US), "voice trees" and transfers and being put on hold and busy signals that cancels your call-- it's time for a beer.
Some credit cards can be "activated" by going on-line to the bank's website. Otherwise, yes, as JohnA mentioned you need to telephone the credit card supervisor telephone number and talk to an actual human.
- - This is where "Skype" is worth its weight in gold especially when working your way down the "press 1 if you are human, press 2 if you are frustrated, . . . ." type systems.
- - But to re-emphasize do the Google of ATM scams and learn how the thieves will try to steal your card number and PIN. You can save a world of trouble and hassles especially when you are outside your home country.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:05   #6
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There are several banks in Marsh Harbour; when I went to one, First Caribbean maybe? the security guy looked at my card and said "No, go to Scotia". I did not have any issues getting cash at Scotia or RBC with my Plus/Cirrus network ATM card.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:16   #7
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Just a further note: Scotia Bank used to be the best bank for ATM transactions but now in the eastern Caribbean they are charging a fee for using their ATM machine while the other banks like Republic, RBTT and others do not charge anything to use their ATM machines. RBTT has the worst reputation for ATM usage and protection of their ATM equipment.
- - If you plan on exchanging your home currency for local currency inside a bank you need to remember to bring your passport with you for identification. It is my personal opinion over the years that trying to get money from a bank teller with a credit card is very risky. There have been cases reported of the bank teller "double" running your card and then using the second charge slip to pocket significant money from your card. Anytime anybody takes your credit card out of your direct vision you are in danger of having it scammed. Remember that the USA bank card federal protections do not apply "offshore." It is only by the "good graces" of your bank that they might cover your losses when the scam occurs outside your home country.
- - If the thieves are successful in gaining your ATM card number and PIN they sell that information to international thieves who use the information in places like Asia and other countries where your home bank cannot protect you. It used to be that you could communicate with your bank and let them know in what region of the world you are located and then they could refuse any transactions outside that area. However, with the "computerization" of bank transactions in the last few years, sentient humans are no longer in the "chain" and those procedures are not available anymore. So it is only you and your knowledge of how the thieves operate that can protect your money.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:18   #8
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Good advice from Ossirissail in every respect, especially the suggestions about debit card data theft at ATMs. A cruising friend of ours had about $1,500 extracted from his account a few days after using an ATM on Antugua. The transfer originated in Russia.
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Old 15-11-2010, 16:31   #9
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- It is normal to keep your checking/ATM accessible account at a low balance and the bulk of your money in a savings account or another account. This is so that should your ATM card get stolen or compromised you only loose minimal amount of money.
Excellent advice - only one thing to add. Make sure that your overdraft protection is turned off so that it will not automatically transfer your savings account money to your checking account. Even if you only have 1,000 in your checking account, when they present that check for $10,000, if you have over 9,000 in savings it will be automatically moved over and gone.
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Old 15-11-2010, 17:03   #10
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Thank you everyone for great advice and insights. We will contribute any information that we discover along the way.
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Old 15-11-2010, 17:13   #11
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ATM's

Unless you have some special deal with your bank the fees in the islands will be a bit of a shock. I have an RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) account in both the U.S. and Canada and I am using the RBC cash machine here in the Bahamas and getting charged $5 every time I make a transaction. Take out large amounts at one time to minimize the fees. Also be careful that you only use machines on islands with reliable telephone systems. I went to a machine one time and in the middle of the transaction, unbeknownst to me the telephone line went down for a few minutes and my money was released from my bank but got stuck in the Mexico City plus system server and the approval message never made it to the machine I was at, so the transaction was denied. I did it again, both times for $500 and never got the money. It took me a month of wrangling with both banks to get the money back.Nightmare....
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Old 16-11-2010, 06:27   #12
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Some excellent advice but most banks have a US$600 per day limit on ATM charges. You can reset this amount by communicating with your bank. It can be set lower or higher. I have ofter told my bank to "up the limit to $1K/day" for 5 days then revert back to the normal limit. That lets me suck out enough cash to pay a large purchase bill in cash in the islands. Then the limit automatically reverts to the US$600/day limit.
- - Hand in hand with the ATM card and other banking is to have a bank that allows you to access your accounts via the internet so you can watch for strange or fraudulent withdrawals.
- - Once you get down island the bank ATM fees generally disappear on "local" bank ATM's. Currently only Scotia Bank has ATM fees down island.
- - Also do not fail to watch the Utube videos on ATM scams and thiefs to learn how to examine an ATM machine for alterations and hidden cameras. There was a very large number of incidences in the eastern Caribbean of ATM scam/thiefs a couple of years ago.
- - Non-USA cruisers need to be very careful about using "safe" ATMs as they do not normally have the "money-back" protections offered by USA banks. Several British friends have lost significant money due to ATM scam/thiefs.
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Old 16-11-2010, 06:48   #13
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I've used ATMs in the southern Abacos, a couple places on Eleuthera and Georgetown, Exumas.
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Old 16-11-2010, 09:06   #14
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I used ATM's from California to Trinidad for ten years with no problems!
I used a debit card for all of my ATM transactions and had set up my Social Security to be deposited to this account. This way only this amount was at risk. Larger transaction would require a transfer from other accounts by either online or a phone call. I aquired travel points with the use of the debit card and after some extensive boat work had enough travel points for a round trip airfare from Trinidad to the PNW.
One more thing, obtain your financial institutions routing number for deposits to your account and also their routing address for overseas wire transfers.
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Old 16-11-2010, 11:46   #15
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I get the feeling this thread should be linked with one about piracy.

Any patch of terra firma will have an ATM on it. And YES it will remove money from anything you could imagine to stick in it.

Have no fear. Go on any cruise and they will know how to strip your wallet.... without playing raunchy music
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