Best bank cards to use on RTW trip to Central and South America, Australia and SE Asia
My boyfriend and I will begin our RTW trip in October. We are going to Central and South America, Australia and SE Asia. We currently live in the UK and are looking for the best (i.e most widely accepted and interest free withdrawals) debit/ credit cards to use..
If you have travelled around any of these places, we would like to know..
which cards are most widely accepted?
did you store your money in a number of different accounts in case of emergencies?
Did you use credit cards etc?
Are there any cards which allow you to withdraw abroad free of interest?
Has anyone ever used the STA card, and if so, is this any good?
Sorry for all the questions! If anyone has any info at all please let us know :)
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we used a nationwide visa debit card which at the time allowed for free withdrawals - not sure if this is still the case.
we transferred money online from other "holding" accounts just in case we lost it or the pin was stolen
we travelled all over south america/central america and india/nepal and it was accepted everywhere in atms/cash machines.
we had a stash of a few hundred US dollars for emergency use and also credit cards but didn;'t need to use either
this is the best way to go, travellers cheques aren;t easy to change and some places charge a lot to do it. Reply to this
Before we left Canada I used some time planning our fund access when traveling. Our travels is mainly S.E Asia, China and India, and even though most of the countries does not have the same banks as we use back home I decided to widespread my horizon. I got two bank accounts with two different banks, both joint so we have 4 bank cards, a joint VISA credit witch in the end totaled us 6 ways of a withdrawal if needed. Having emergency cash, preferably in USD is a must.
Unfortionatly I cant answer to your bank fees, but found HSBC being fenominal in Asia, accepted everywhere and they dont charge me any fees for withdrawals. Usually the bank you withdrawal from will cahrge you a fee and your bank at home will aswell, so keep in mind the double fees with some banks. Some banks have affiliates with other banks overseas and will allow you to withdrawal without fees all together.
As I used to work in a bank back home, keep in mind to let all your banks know where you are traveling and for how long, they like to restrict your usage if there is unfamilliar transactions. At the same time ask them to increase your daily withdrawal limits to a resonable amount so you dont get stuck withdrawaling many times with fees.
If you have any other questions feel free to ask,
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We used a Visa Debit card and a Mastercard Debit card and both have so far been accepted everywhere we've travelled in South Pacific and Asia and obviously in Aus where we live. Both are with different banks and overseas withdrawal/transaction fees were not exorbidant. Obviously that is going to depend on your banks fee structure so maybe shop around for the best option. Happy Travels. Reply to this
Thanks everyone for the advice!
We have decided to use a prepaid credit card (Mastercard) called Caxton FX Global Traveller if anyone else is interested in this post, it seems to have a lot of advantages such as
No ATM charges when overseas.
No fees, commission, or extra charges on your transactions meaning all costs and charges are included in the exchange rate applied.
Muno; we looked at the Nationwide card but apparently it now has an interest charge :( but thanks anyway
Thanks everyone for the advice
Katie Reply to this
The Nationwide Flex account card now charges 1% fee in countries outside of Europe. I have looked at loads of cards and found this is still the best card available in Britan.
I don't know much about the Caxton FX Global Traveller card but may I suggest you double check the fees applied to the exchange rate as this could well be much higher, having a quick look at their site it seems they add 2.5% onto the exchange rate, so I think you would still be much better off with the Nationwide Flex account card as the only fee is 1%. They use Visa wholesale rate of exchange.
I have heard of people being 'knocked back' when applying for this account with Nationwide. I was also 'knocked back' at first but they reapplied for me. I have just come back from a week in Greec and used the card the whole week for free (because I was in EU) with ease. I foyu were to apply for this account, may I suggest you tell them you intend to use it as your everyday account (even if you don't intend to). Reply to this
Funnily enough, i came on to ask the exact same question. ITS SO CONFUSING! i hate the way banks use terminology to boggle you.
Katie- my travel partner said he found the caxton fx too. (we are also travelling SEA and south america..)though i dont fully understand it..what does it mean by a 'pre-paid' credit card?are you taking any other form of card with you?
unfortunately nationwide only give free withdrawals if your inside of europe :(
we were thinking of taking a credit card (ive never had one before) only for complete emergencies.. but the Caxton FX looks like you can use it as a debit card? or at least transfer money to it from your debit account it that right?
Anyone else from the UK got any advise on debit cards abroad?
ive searched from moneysavingexpert and although martin is very good on tv and radio, his website is very confusing and i couldnt really find very much relevant to long periods abroad.. Reply to this
It is confusing, isn't it?! I think travellers, more often that not, are pretty poor when it comes to matters financial - so booooring! I know I am rubbish and i'm havin the same probs as you guys. It seems that the best card to get is still the Nationwide Visa debit card, I believe only 1% on each cash withdrawal abroad but, it can be tricky to get as they are unwilling to give you this card, as opposed to some other one that is not as good, unless you "promise" to use it as your main account, paying in wages and all that.
Any other debit card is pretty much gonna suck, especially people like Natwest (my bank). I think HSBC are about the best of the rest but still not a great idea, especially if your goin for a long time and are going to be withdrawing considerable funds. That leaves pre-payed cards (like the caxtonfx) or old school travellers cheques. It seems the pre-paid cards are the way to go (yes, abi, you transfer money from your regular bank onto the card and then use it anywhere you see the visa/mastercard logo) and by far the best option after Nationwide. You cannot overspend, you can easily manage your money, they are easy to apply for, secure and pretty economical.
We're gonna take one of these fx thingies (not sure which yet) with two cards (replacement cards are cheap btw), my ladies HSBC card (emegencies, lost fx card type affair), two credit cards (nothing like returning with debt!), some travellers cheques and some good old US Dollar hard cash. Phew, sounds like we're loaded eh? Not. Just kinda spreading the load and covering all bases (good mix of visa, mastercard, credit, debit and cash), what could go wrong!!
Hope this ramble helps!
Scott Reply to this
As far as I am aware the Caxton FX global traveller card is a credit card in that it is widely accepted, and is a mastercard, but you cannot borrow money and pay it back like with traditional credit cards. Instead it works by topping it up like a debit card. I think that Caxton is like a brokers and therefore they can offer competitive rates, and whenever you top up the account, you get the exchange rate at that time fixed for that money upon withdrawal. Therefore you know what you will get when you put the money into your acocunt. The max amount you are allowed to put into the account (at one time??) is £5000 (as the card is in GBP) and the max withdrawal limit per day is £300. For this reason my boyfriend and I will take one each just in case.
You can top up the account online or by SMS messaging, but sometimes there are dificulties, and apparently customer services are only open during office house unlike other international banks.
For this reason we will take a nationwide flex account (if we can get one) and will only use this if we really need to, or if the exchange rates inc. interest make it better value. But we will also take credit cards just in case, and because they are insured. I've read that using the prepaid credit cards are no good for deposits etc as there is an issue with the money being held or something, so look into that if you're getting one
Redshoes, which way round are you doing your trip?
Don't take what i've said as gospel; this is just my understanding!
Like Tina and Scott have mentioned, it seems like applying for the nationwide flex account can be quite difficult. Reply to this
The Nationwide Flex account is by far and away the best card out there...
I didn't have any problems getting mine, but if it had of been an issue I would've switched to using it as my main account without hesitation if that is whats required. It saved us literally hundreds of pounds, in withdrawal fees during our travels especially considering I bank with Barclays who are horrendous with overseas transactions!
That was when the fees were 0% though... the 1% fee now is actually set by Visa, not Nationwide. They used to absorb the cost but due to the economy have now had to pass it on (so I've heard). Even with the 1% they're still the best out there and that 1% only applies outside of the EU, so if you're travelling Europe it is still 0%.
I actually only use my Nationwide account as a travel account, I also give the card to my family and friends when they travel too (not sure on the legality of this but hey). I also have a nationwide gold credit card and a Santander Zero credit card (visa and MC respectively). Both excellent credit cards for use abroad, but I only use them for emergencies.
An ideal place to get info on this for UK residents is here: Moneysavingexpert
If this link isn't allowed Mods... I'm sorry... and to anyone reading this if the link gets >snipped< PM and I'll pass it on. Reply to this
Katie- we're doing South east asia first,starting off in the Philippines then afterwards think ill be on my lonesome doing south america and the Caribbean lol.
Lots of really useful advice guys- thanks! x Reply to this
Just a short update. I applied for the Nationwide flex account, was accepted on the day and my card should arrive in a week. Internet banking, the works. No hassle, no problem! Reply to this
Caxton is the best - great exchange rate saves you lots of money over time.Nationwide exchange rate isn't good and you pay 1% every time. Reply to this
Caxton - is this an offer for a limited time? Do you have to use the card a certain number of times? It's just my trips tend to be like a year apart?
Dani Reply to this
I have ordered mine already just in case they make changes, seems a good deal. I don't think there are any time limits on it, but there are restrictions with regards to the amount of money you can hold in the account. And you get the exchange rate at the time that you loaded the card so this could be good/bad if you go away a year later and there is still money in the account from last time. You have to accept the T&Cs that should the bank go bust you can lose the money in your account though. Bear this in mind, although shouldn't be too much of an issue if you only load a small amount at a time. Check out their website, they have a variety of different cards depending on your requirements Reply to this
Does it seem strange they need a passport number or is it just me..?x Reply to this
i guess it is to prove you are a UK citizen.. maybe though.. Reply to this
I dont suppose there are any vetran canadian travelers that have done central and south america? Im am looking into the oh so boring banks and cards and all that jazz, im finding it extremely difficult to find on that dosent ask for my soul as colateral and blood as payment.
Anyone have any ideas? Reply to this
Not Canadian but I did travel through south America last year (which was amazing!) I took my credit card and my prepaid card from Cashplus, each week or two i loaded some money onto the prepaid card and kept my credit card safe in the hostel locker. This way i didn't have to worry about losing it, if i lost my prepaid card (which i didn't, thankfully) it would have had minimal amounts of my travel money on it, so not a massive loss. But obviously if i lost my credit card that would have been all my savings gone.
What cards/banks are you thinking of going with? And where exactly in central and south america are you traveling? You're going to have such a good time! Reply to this
Well, I'm from USA and I'll be using a Bank card from Charles Schwab. The checking account reimburses you for all ATM fees world wide. Along with that I opened an Credit Card account with Capital One. There credit cards do not change any type of international conversion fees. Hopefully it works out, and I'll definitely be crossing my fingers that they do not get stolen or lost along the way.
Oh yea, and I plan to keep them all in my Money Belt at all times. Reply to this