- How to pay for stuff when in USA and South America?
Two separate questions here (possibly same answer, possibly not);
1. Travelling to USA. What’s the best way to pay for food, accommodation, petrol etc? Don’t want to be carrying too much cash around. Likely to spend £1k-1.5k. This wil be a communal card for 4 of us, so thinking a prepaid cash card allowing topping up along the way would be best.
The Travelex card loks to be decent;
2. Travelling to the USA and Colombia. This will be for personal spending. I’m thinking a credit card with good rates (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money) would be best, but as a student it’s unlikely I’ll get one? Main query here is how to deal with two currencies. Likely to spend £5-800 in USA, and £500 in Colombia. Maybe another cash card for USA? Apparently debit cards are best in Colombia, guess I can just withdraw on my Natwest card and pay for stuff in cash.
Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
Ta,Posted 3 years ago
I have a FairFX card that works anywhere, just load it up from your UK debit card then withdraw or swipe wherever you are at the current Mastercard exchange rate (what you see on xe.com). Used it in Hong Kong and across Europe. They can also send out a replacement if you lose yours.
Best way really, the rates aren’t going to get any better and you stay in control of your money, just don’t use it for hotel authorisations and such as the pre-charge can wipe your balance and take a while to get “refunded”, use a normal credit card for that (you won’t get charged provided it’s only being used for authorisation).
If you go through Quidco or Topcashback to sign up you can usually get a few quid as a sweetener.Posted 3 years agothecaptainMember
Is fairfx really much better than just using a standard debit or credit card? Looks like it charges a bit when you load up the card, and also charges again when you use it. I just use my existing plastic for most purchases, and get a bit of money out of ATMs as required.Posted 3 years agomikewsmithSubscriber
It’s a balance depending on how you spend when you are abroad.
I used to take out chunks of cash and use that as I would pay a fee on the transaction for the cash but save it on the small transactions (a coffee/drink etc.) but you have the downside of carrying lots of cash.
Pre pay cards also can get you in the exchange rate though with some (I have 2 with airline loyalty cards) you know the rate when you load them up but it’s always worse than you would get by taking money out that day. (the load fee on mine is $2) however I save 1-2$ per transaction on the card every time I use it so it’s much better.
My folks did the Halifax one and that worked well for them in Oz.
The other top tip is make sure you can get into your internet banking etc from abroard and have a spare card that you don’t carry with you in case of loss/theft or the bank putting it on hold.Posted 3 years agoJ-RMember
+1 what ComradeD says, that’s what I always use.
For the full answer read Money Saving Expert:Posted 3 years ago
Last time I went to the US, the advice I got from everywhere was to use a prepaid card. I ended up with a Thomas Cook one IIRC. Worked well, accepted everywhere.
One thing to note though, with the one I had at least, if you don’t use it for a period of time then they start charging you for it. You need to cancel it when you get home and get another next time you travel (unless you’re over there every six months). Well hidden in the T&Cs, that little gem was.Posted 3 years agoscaredypantsSubscriber
prepaid cards here too – FairFX
I have a dollars one and a “universal” one that’s loaded in £
Assuming you’re not in the arse end of the amazon basin they should be OK
(in US, the card doesn’t work in petrol pumps so you go in and prepay at the desk)
(If you email one of us folk who have a fairFX card and ghet a referral, they’ll get a tenner credit and you will get your starup fee waived)
(Fair FX will post you cash at good rates too but unless you ask (and I don’t know how) they send big denominations which can be a pain in the arse)Posted 3 years agojimoiseauMember
A bit off topic but something to note: when you pay by card in Colombia they ask when you want to pay, so you can delay payment, effectively using you debit card as a store credit card. To avoid interest and just pay debit you have to select 0 or 1 (sometimes 0 isn’t an option, 1 just means end of the month as that’s how their debit cards work). I’ve forgotten what they call this or how they ask you because I was with a colombian who dealt with it.
Also be prepared for some weird questions, address, phone number, passport number etc to pay even relatively small amounts by card as their anti-laundering regulations are understandably pretty strong.Posted 3 years agofathomerSubscriber
Sorry to bump this up but I was going to ask a very similar question regarding money in he US. My issue is I need to get it sorted quick as we fly a week on Sunday!
We where set on using the Royal Mail card (which the wife picked up one yesterday, but thinking of cancelling) but have read a lot of horror stories hence he slightly last minute looking! Has anyone used the RM card?Posted 3 years agoMrsPoddyMember
We used the Post office one last year in the US – we managed to load it okay via mobile and picked it up on the same day. I think MrPP had to take id with him to get one. You will need a phone that can be used in the US if topping up from a mobile.Posted 3 years ago
We only found 1 motel that would not take it so make sure you always have a credit or debit card.
Hope you have a wonderful time.
SO we ordered a FairFX dollar card for communal use in the USA.
Still need to decide what to do for my personal spending. I imagine my spending in the US will be a mix of cash from ATM, and card transactions. Colombia will mainly be ATM withdrawals.
I thought about getting another dollar card, and just using my Natwest debit card to withdraw cash in Colombia, but the fees are pretty high – but that might just be the easiest way..
Ta,Posted 3 years ago
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