travel money advice
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Sep 1, 2012 11:43 PM Last Post By: maureenm
Jul 3, 2012 1:07 AM
travel money adviceCan anyone advise the best way to take money for a month in Vietnam and whether it should be in US dollars? I am travelling from the UK for a month in December and have read that ATM charges by UK banks are so high that it can be better to get a prepaid card in local currency - can anyone recommend one?
Jul 3, 2012 1:59 AM
Jul 3, 2012 2:10 AM
I'm doing the same but at the end of this month.
I have a prepaid VISA with Caxton FX, think it's called the global traveller card. Other companies like FairFX do similar products.
You basically pay money to the card from your debit card, and you can then use the VISA card to withdraw money locally in the local currency. Caxton have a slightly worse exchange rate (the difference goes to them) and FairFX have good exchange rates but charge you a set fee each time you withdraw money from an ATM.
I'm planning on taking some dollars with me, and on using the ATM card for Vietnamese Dong as we move around. It sounds like it's pretty easy to exchange dong for dollars at the banks in the cities.
Hope this is a bit helpful - happy travels.
Jul 3, 2012 2:56 AM
3I found that USD was good for paying for entry visa , trips and hotels etc but withdrawing Dong from ATM's was better for everyday stuff. We could withdraw up to 5 million dong from ATM's for a $1.00 fee and the conversion was at daily rate AUSD- VND. It worked out over 2 weeks we spent about $5.00 on fees and lost maybe $10.00 on conversion rates .
Jul 3, 2012 3:20 AM
4You need to check with your bank what it will charge for using your card at an ATM in VN. It maybe the charges include a flat fee plus a % of the amount withdrawn. Or it may be simply a percentage.
If your bank charges a huge amount - and mine was charging 5.5% per $100 or 3.75% per $200 on a Visa debit card - ask if there are cheaper options. In Australia in April I bought a pre-loaded Travelex cash passport which is a Mastercard product. This card charges me 1% of any amount transferred to my cash passport account and then no further withdrawal or per transaction fees. Although I bought it in Australia every reload indicates that the transactions are done in the UK.
Others have written here that in other countries this card is also costly and they have found other solutions. #2 also makes some suggestions about options you could try. But shop around and ask specific questions to find out what the cheapest option is for you.
I can top up my cash passport from my regular account at any time but make sure that if you want to do something similar that ordinary security precautions do not make this impossible. For example my home bank used to send me a one-off PIN to my cell phone so I could make a BPay transaction. But I use a VN SIM in VN (yes well! duh) and my bank could send the PIN only to a cell phone using an Australian SIM. So I had to phone home to make arrangements to remove that security feature.
Whatever the charges made by your bank you need to add a 20,000 VND (about $1 AUS or US) per transaction fee for using an ATM in VN. This is a fee imposed here for ATM use and cannot be avoided. You are warned of this cost when making any withdrawal.
I don't carry large amounts of cash with me. Most currencies are able to be exchanged in gold shops although there was a crackdown on this practice about eighteen months ago.
Jul 3, 2012 4:21 AM
5Similar to what Maureen has decribed above:
I use a Travelex Cash Passport card, which is a type of Visa debit card.
Each ATM transaction has a set fee of $3.75 anywhere in the world. So obviously its better to withdraw larger amounts less often.
You need to load money into the account at a 1% fee, so if you load $1000, your balance will be $990.
You have two cards linked to you account, so you can keep one hidden as a spare.
There could be better options available, but its been very reliable and has worked everywhere I've been in Asia - India, Nepal, China, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand etc.
I tend to load about $1000 at a time onto the card via online banking. If the card was stolen or my account hacked, $1000 is the most I can lose.
Google "Cash Passport" for more information
In Vietnam I've just withdrawn Dong from the ATM to pay for everything and never had a problem. I always like to carry $100-200 cash of US dollars with me just as a backup.
Jul 3, 2012 8:15 AM
6I have just got back from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. I overspent and used most of my dollars in Cambodia and had to get cash from an ATMs in Vietnam. I used an HSBC debit card(UK) to withdraw at HSBC in HCMC and the receipt indicated no fee. I used Techcombank ATMs in Hoi An and Hue using a Philippine issued HSBC atm card again the receipt showed zero fee.
I am now waiting with baited breath for my next bank statement
Jul 3, 2012 11:23 AM
7Some investment/trading banks have checking accounts that provide ATM cards with no fees for withdrawal in foreign countries (and that reimburse any fees you may have incurred). For example Schwab. Here's a list of US ATM/Credit Cards and fees. I traveled in Africa two years ago with my Schwab card and incredibly paid NO fees. I'm sure there must be something similar in the UK.
Jul 3, 2012 1:04 PM
Jul 3, 2012 7:26 PM
9In Hue at present, using ATMs this time with 28 degrees Mastercard - great, but think available only in Australia, no transaction fees. Where are all these 5 mill dong ATMs? I gather ANZ does 5 mill, but none local. Only been able to do max 2 mill at a time ...
Jul 3, 2012 9:25 PM
10Kilbar try the AgriBank ATMs at the big intersection of Hanoi Road and Ly Thuong Kiet and Nguyen Tri Phuong and Hoang Hoa Tham streets. There are four machines there. If one wants to give you only 3.25 million take your card and try the next machine. I use those ones constantly. There two more AgriBank ATMs at 72 Hung Vuong - almost opposite the Indochine Palace hotel. Same issue there - i find the machine on the right more likely to dispense 5 million.
Jul 3, 2012 10:04 PM
Jul 3, 2012 10:22 PM
12Just a hint ,, do not let your partner have a long lunch including many Tiger beers and then expect her to walk 200 metres to an ATM and remember a) her mobile phone so she can call you if there are any problems b) your pin number c) where she was having lunch . Other than that it was a fun day lol .
Jul 4, 2012 7:46 AM
13Maureens advice is very good.
One other comment is that whenever you can use VND.
With the exception of entering the country where you need US $ to pay for the visa we use our credit card in any businesses that are larger ie hotels. For small businesses and most meals other than at long established restaurants we use Vnd to pay.
By using Vnd you avoid the common practice of giving a poor exchange rate on US $ to VND price. When prices aren't marked ask for quotes in VND also.
We do use ATM's to make withdrawls of Vnd from our Canadian Bank and the exchange rate is fairly reasonable and Vietnamese banks seem to charge $1 to $2 for transaction and our bank service charges are about the same. We feel about 4% is a reasonable price to pay for the convenience and to avoid carrying large sums of money.
When in Vietnam use Vietnamese Dong, When in USA use american $$ always seems to work best for us.
Jul 5, 2012 3:51 AM
14I am from the UK and am travelling in Asia.
Before we left my partner and I opened an account with Norwich and Peterborough Building Society and they do not charge any fees. They also give a really good exchange rate (three days ago we got 32,478 dong to the pound.)
The only stipulation on the account is that £500 gets paid in every month, or you make 5 transactions per month (this can be a credit or debit)
Then once in Vietnam use ATMs at banks rather than those on the street.
For the last 11 months it has worked really well.
If you can't do that you get a better rate on US$100 than on lower denominations but the rates aren't great full stop from the money changers.
And always use dong rather than dollars when paying for stuff, it works out much cheaper. If you are quoted in dollars insist on a price in dong, I keep pointing out I am not American!
Enjoy your trip
(4 star Hotel)
From US$289.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$399.00 per night
Las VegasBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$95.00 per night