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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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Old 11 Nov 2005
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Money, ATM's etc.

Will be in Mexico Jan and Feb 06, mostly rural. How do travelers handle the money issue? I have no desire to travel with a lot of cash - are ATM's to access US Banks (ie Wells Fargo) common in smaller towns?
Would appreciate the experiences of others.
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Old 11 Nov 2005
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I've had excellent luck with ATM's in Mexico. On past trips I carried a Cirrus system card, which worked fine, and a month ago was at the Horizons meet in Creel (was that a month already?!)and used a Plus system card from a different bank, and it worked as well. Atm's are easy to find, Cajera Automatico being the term.

Now Guatemala on the other hand....
Andy Tiegs
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Old 15 Nov 2005
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hi. i am in mexico for the first time...heres what i did and it worked good..
i like to stash some american express travellers checks and a bit of cash somewhere deep in the bike for emergency..
for daily expenses i carry cash to exchange into pesos at the border, enough for a couble of days,, then i have two master card debit cards.. one stashed somewhere in luggage and another to use. i leave cash and deposit slips with a friend in the states and call and ask him to deposit when i get low.. with the cash, travellers checks, debit cards i am set.. the only thing to remember is to get a cash withdrawal when leaving citys.. i found cash was kinda like filling up the gas tank.. you want to have enough to get to the next station...
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Old 22 Nov 2005
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Ive been considering this through South America. My worries are that there will be a lack of ATMs in the countries and also I hear there is a distinct possibility of recieving fraudulent money when you change at the borders (or anywhere).

My answer to this is to change currency in Australia before I leave and carry a bit of each currency with me.
Also I figured I could package up a bunch of currencies for each country and freight them to a town in each country. Then when I get there just go and retrieve my package.

Of course as a backup I would carry cards and some USD.

Does that all sound feasible?
\"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.\" - M.Twain
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Old 22 Nov 2005
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Originally posted by Tathagata:

Does that all sound feasible?
Err, no. MAIL money? I'd be surprised if you could get all the SA currencies in Aus to start with, and if you could the idea of mailing money in SA doesn't strike me as being very secure...

Consider: you're concerned about getting counterfeit - I'd be much more concerned about the money disappearing in the mail - especially when it has to cross a border and gets inspected for customs duty!

Originally posted by Tathagata:

Ive been considering this through South America. My worries are that there will be a lack of ATMs in the countries and also I hear there is a distinct possibility of receiving fraudulent money when you change at the borders (or anywhere).
Loads of ATM's in SA, all major cities have plenty, minor cities usually have a few. Carry a reasonable surplus of cash and you should have no difficulty whatever.

Changing money and getting good currency is not a problem if you simply use a bank. Even changing at borders is unlikely to be a problem. Just don't get more than you need to get you to a bank. I suspect any comments you have heard of counterfeit are overblown - I've had no reports from any travellers on SA counterfeiting.

Have the two major Visa networks cards; plus and cirrus, and a Mastercard and you're fine.

Grant Johnson

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Old 22 Nov 2005
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Originally posted by Grant Johnson:
I've had no reports from any travellers on SA counterfeiting.
Very common in Peru and Bolivia - there's a few fake soles rattling around the bottom of my bag, still ... One taxi-driver in Argentina gave me counterfeit notes as change. In Colombia & Ecuador, too, they're very particular about notes. I met someone who'd received fake USD from ATM's in Ecuador.

Overall though, it isn't something to stress about. Go to reputable banks - don't convert money in the street. If someone gives you dodgy change when buying a taco, well, you can usually spend it, anyway


[This message has been edited by JamesCo (edited 23 November 2005).]
James Courtier
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Old 22 Nov 2005
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I´m in Peru right now, have come down through Central America and northern South America.

Counterfeiting is a big problem. I have a US $20 note here right now, and it looks real, but it´s not. Same goes for the local money.

My rules are.

1.Carry two cards. One stashed

2.Carry some USD - about $300, including $1 notes, most stashed and about $50 available.

3.Only change the dregs of your money at the border, the money changers are a rip off - and have counterfeit and you are easy prey. The banks in the city before (and do it before) will normally change the money at an official rate and you can be sure you will be getting good notes, and..... you get to tell the dudes that harrass you at the border to take a walk.... all of them - the less people around your bike the better.

4.Withdraw money in sums of about $200 at a time in the currency of the country you are in with your card. More if you are going to the back country, and stash all but $100.

5. Spread the notes and card that you carry between 2 or 3 pockets. If you are held up, they usually don´t stand around and check you out for everything.

I was held up 3 weeks ago, and the dude walked with $1.50. 5 Soles!!! I had $500 bucks on me......

South American Cities are equipped with money machines and banks and apart from have your wits about you and some common sense, carrying on your person one good card is all you need.

Ride well.

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Two wheels moves my soul...
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Old 22 Nov 2005
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ATMs are all over Mexico and Central America. Take any bank card from the US,Canada or Europe as long as it has one or more of the logos for Cirrus, Plus etc. on the back to connect to the system for international banking ,and of course be sure the funds are there. Local currency will be dispensed ,at the official rate of exchange of the day,plus a fixed service fee.Take out the maximum withdrawal and the cost is very low.Store the cash in a moneybelt and only keep enough in a thin wallet to cover one day's expenses. Travellers Cheques are next to useles as none of the small shops and hotels can cash them so you will have to go to a bank during their limited open hours and ususally stand in line , then pay a high commission fee to cash them.ATMs are found at bank outlets ,in malls and in Central American countries even at the new shiny service stations with convenience stores/snackbars of the big multinatinal oil companies . In Central America a company called Credomatic issues all the major -name cards and can help straighten out any problems. ATMs there do work but have a tendency to be offline more often.
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Old 23 Nov 2005
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Have a look in www.visa.com

Regards, Mick
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Old 28 Dec 2005
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More then a year in SA resulted in 1 (one) false 50 bol. note (that is 5 US). I got it from a bolivian fuel-station.

A much bigger problem is the US-dollar. The paper is not to strong so it tears esy... and once it has even the smallest tear (even 2 mm) it becomes absolutely worthless. No one, including banks and exchmge-offices, will except it.

As far as exchanging money on the street, just check the rate via internet. Rate,s on the street are often (much) better then in the bank. Just use your brain and don,t follow the guy into a dark ally ;-)

An exampls of an "official" street-rate in Venezuela.
ATM-rate 1900. Standard street-rate 2500. That is 30 % more!!!

ATM,s are everywhere. Only Brasil is more dificult with a "international"-card. Use the shopping-malls, where there is usually a line of 10 ATM,s


- www.maartensworld.com -

[This message has been edited by mmaarten (edited 28 December 2005).]
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