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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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  #1  
Old 14 Apr 2007
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Philadelphia, US
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Credit Card Use

Be careful when using credit cards overseas...you WILL get nailed with Foreign Currency transaction fees of 3% on purchases...
Best to use your debit card to withdraw the local currency from an ATM and pay with local currency.
Foreign transaction fees for credit cards: Ask the Experts - Travelers' Tales

HTH
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  #2  
Old 14 Apr 2007
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Canada
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Lightbulb Credit Cards - not ALWAYS a conversion fee

If you get a FlexAccount with debit card (no cash advance fees) or a credit card with Nationwide Building Society (in the UK) they do not charge a foreign currency conversion fee. You can get a Visa card.

As far as I know (and I've looked hard) this is the only card issuer to have this policy.

Beware, MINT has started charging an extra 1.25% even if abroad they charge in Sterling so there's no conversion - outright theft, in my opinion.

Chris (a happy Nationwide customer)

Nationwide Building Society - FlexAccount introduction
Nationwide Building Society - Introduction to Gold Credit Card
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  #3  
Old 14 Apr 2007
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If you open a HSBC account then transfer each month via internet roughly what you need for the month from your main account in the UK then use it to withdraw what you need from the HSBC branch in each country, a list avaliable on the net, you pay no charges. A second benifit is if you get robbed they take the HSBC card they can only steal the mounthly alowance that you transfered that month.

Sound like a good idea?

Hardened travelers what do you all think?
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  #4  
Old 17 Apr 2007
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Herefordshire
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Post Office card

The UK Post Office also do a no comission on foreign purchases card but I haven't tried withdrawing money on it yet. Credit limits tend to be low though which may be a good thing for theft purposes.

I've used my Nationwide card in diverse places including small towns in India, Malaysia and the Carribean and never had any problems in getting cash in ATMs which are much more widespread than the brances of any particular bank.

The additional benefit of these cards is that the money is exchanged on the wholesale rate which is better than the over the counter tourist rate.

If the card is stolen you can cancel it - just take the emergency number or look it up on t'inernet.

One thing that I would do from now on is make sure I take two cards, each administered by a different clearing company. I was in France over the weekend when Visa had a server go down (I called the issuing bank helpline to find out what had happened) which meant that my (and all other) Visa card was declined. The Mastercard was fine though.
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