Cash vs. ATM
Replies: 22 - Last Post: Aug 9, 2012 8:34 PM Last Post By: xinloi
Aug 6, 2012 9:19 PM
Cash vs. ATMHello,
I'm headed to peru soon and wondered if anybody had advice on whether to carry cash(US Dollars) rather than rely on ATM's. Carrying a lot of cash makes me nervous. Should i carry a little cash and use atm's the rest of the time. Or half and half?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Aug 6, 2012 10:08 PM
1I used ATMs exclusively. I haven't used travellers checks in about 15 years. No need. I don't carry much cash on me most of the time, about the equivalent of $40(USD). If I need more cash, I just go use an ATM. I do carry an emergency $100(USD) bill. I've never had to use it. If I'm in a country with large ATM fees, I will get out more to save on fees. Cards do get eaten by ATM machines, but in over 20 years, I've only had that happen twice. I just carry more than one ATM card in case of that or theft. It's trivial to get an ATM card replacement. I've only asked once and it took 2 days from when I called to when it was in my hands on the other side of the world.
I'll be in Peru again in a month. I plan to show up with about $40(USD) in my pocket. My 2nd stop after getting off the plane will be at an ATM. The 1st stop is always the toilet.
Aug 6, 2012 10:32 PM
Aug 6, 2012 11:46 PM
3Individual opinions aside, I note that by far the most travellers that cross our way use ATM's. Usually they have two debit/credit cards. Of course, it has its advantages to use ATM's during working hours at a bank, so that you can go to the counter if something does not work out well. Usually people come to Peru with some US$ or Euro notes as a backup. Make sure that these are crisp and clean, not the slightest crack or stain, preferrably new, because Peruvians can be very difficult about this (because the Peruvian central bank is, so the banks and exchange offices and the public at large also are difficult about this).
Aug 7, 2012 12:15 AM
4When I was at the end of a trip in South America once in La Paz I suddenly ran short with cash. So I went with 1 of 2 credit cards I only use in cases of emergency to a bank to withdraw money at the counter ( I did not use the PIN to withdraw money at ATMs; security reasons).
I did this 3x in my last days in La Paz. I withdrew 3x € 200,--.
When I was back home I got after some time the statement of account of my credit card showing 4 withdrawals. And the 4th one was about a completely different amount than the 3x € 200,-- before.
And it was done after I had left Bolivia already again. Proof: my passport.
So I was worrying. But I was not worrying too much because my signature is very difficult to fake. And I could be sure that they would not be able to fake my signature.
So I told my bank to show me the document about the 4th withdrawal about the fantasy amount with my signature on it.
The procedure took 1/2 a year. Then my bank told me suddenly one day just that I should forget about it. They did not show me a document or a copy of it about the 4th withdrawal with my signature on it.
I'm sure that they got a copy of the withdrawal. And that they just did not want to loose face because the signature on it was completely different than mine.
The bank I used in La Paz was by the way one of the big commercial banks in La Paz.
Me and using credit cards while travelling again apart from real emergencies? Very funny.
But to each his own.
Aug 7, 2012 7:07 AM
5I was in Portugal September 2011. I had a mix of cash and travellers cheques. Western Union wouldn't accept them. Period. Every single location said they did not take them even for a fee. I ended up cashing them in a very expensive hotel which charged me 15% for the convenience, plus the exchange rate. That is the key word: Convenience. In todays electronic world I think trav. cheques are becoming obsolete.
When I was in India 2008 I had an HSBC account opened simply because my own bank didn't have locations there and I was nervous that I'd be stuck after hearing crazy horror stories about debit cards getting stuck in the ATMs. I tried my own bank card as a test and did not have a single issue the entire time. Each time I withdrew the equiv. of $100 Cdn (which is ENORMOUS there) and had my money belt and my secure handled bag; no problems.
Aug 7, 2012 7:42 AM
6I take cash but always have a back up credit card(s) . Have been in places--Copan, Honduras & Panachel, Guate, when no ATMs were operating. Had to loan people money to eat,
Amazes me to see young people use an ATM to get $20.
Strangest ATM was one in Honduras that only gave you money if the amout you asked for was divisible by 750. Could not get money until a local explained how to use it.
Get a good quality leather money belt and fill it with 50 dollar bills.
Aug 7, 2012 7:44 AM
7Emeldee69, poster number 8, sorry to disappoint you. I never had problems with traveller cheques in Peru. And it is not about Portugal. We are not on the Western European branch. We are on the South American branch.
And when I was in Portugal I also used travel cheques. And I mentioned it already. Using traveller cheques is Old School. If you prefer it otherwise, just do it. It's not my intention to convince you. You have your way. I have my way.
Aug 7, 2012 8:33 AM
Aug 7, 2012 11:06 AM
Aug 7, 2012 11:22 AM
10HOWEVER, what if the ATMs are down or run out of money (not at all an uncommon experience during high season or long weekends), or you lose or damage your debit cards, or you are in a place where there are no ATMs or ATMs that will not accept your particular card?
Some sort of mixed approach is needed. For me , that is a combination of cash (for so many reasons, good condition US dollars the choice: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2226960&messageID=20092578#20092578 ) and ATM cards (two), with one or preferably 2 credit cards for use only in emergencies, or if you have no other choice for a certain service or activity. Generally, credit cards have proven to be a risk due to misbilling or fraud, as so many posts here attest to.
Remember to alert your debit or credit card providers of your travels, and ensure they put a notation on the system, so the use won´t be suspended for "unusual activity".
Aug 7, 2012 1:45 PM
11#9, "Amazes me to see young people use an ATM to get $20."
Why? I'm not young and I do that all the time. As long as there's no ATM fee, why take more than you need?
In decades of traveling, I've only been ATM hard up three times. The first was in Tokyo way way way back in the day. It's not that they didn't have ATMs, it was just that I had no idea how to use it. It bore no resemblance to a modern ATM machine. It had like 100 buttons on it. Couldn't figure it out. I went into a fancy hotel and they had a US ATM machine. The next was in the middle of no where Vietnam back before it was overrun with tourists. I was in a tiny town without an ATM machine so I had to use a human ATM. The local bank did the transaction for me manually. The last was during the IMF crysis in Argentina. It wasn't that there weren't ATMs, they were just all empty of money. I noticed that the Citibank ATM in Recoleta would refill at 6am so I just got there then and stood in line.
Aug 7, 2012 3:09 PM
Aug 7, 2012 5:12 PM
Aug 7, 2012 9:48 PM
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