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v0v18
09-20-2012, 16:27
Hi guys planning my 2013 NOBO and i wanted advice on money.
Im not from the USA so already know i need to sort out visas ect but wanted advice on what to do about money> do i bring all cash, travelers cheque? open an american account? i dont want to have to pay card chargers every time i want money when im over there so trying to work out whats best?

chiefiepoo
09-20-2012, 16:38
I travel to UK and Scotland so I have a similar circumstance. My observations; Forget travelers cheques, they used to be very popular but many places in smaller towns won't take them. Especially if you have non US ID. You probably won't want to carry all cash. Read the stories here and there about theft from packs etc. When i travel internationally I bite the bullet and pay the fees. Increments of $200 or so depending on the trail ahead. The fee is the price I'm willing to pay for not having to get a TC cashed or carrying my cash stash to the privvy or spring. An American account is going to have a monthly service charge most likely.

Moose2001
09-20-2012, 16:53
I would look at the debit cards that you can charge from a bank account. Just about everywhere takes debit cards these days.

swjohnsey
09-20-2012, 16:59
A combination of cash, credit card and debit card. Some places don't/won't take debit cards like shuttles, mom and pop restaraunts, etc. Take every opportunity to get free cash back on debit card to replenish cash stash. Also carry credit card for motels, rental cars, etc. that block out big chuncks of cash on debit cards and are slow to put it back.

fiddlehead
09-20-2012, 17:44
Personally I have no problem carrying lots of cash.
But I know how to carry it without losing it or getting it stolen.
(never have anyway)
So, I would bring about $1,000 or $1500 to start and use some credit cards and probably get cash at a bank when you run out. That way it is only a few times you'll get hit with the higher transaction fees.
You'll have to pay an international fee on your credit card probably (unless you have Am Express I believe) when you use it, but that will be much less than ATM fees.

The other option of course is to bring a lot of cash or a cashier's check of some kind. (which may take some time to clear anyway) and then open a US bank account.

Some people use Western Union but there's so many scams with that company, I wouldn't trust using it. (but I know people who do to get money in Thailand from the states regularly)

Do you have a paypal account? That might help you out too.
You'd be able to get cash through that (they have ATM cards now)

So, as you can see, there are many options but, for me........ cash is always king.

cymru
09-20-2012, 18:33
I'd be really surprised if you could open a US bank account as a foreign national.

Citibank was brill when I lived in Japan and was the best for spending money overseas without incurring any fees. Unfortunately, you need to have 1800 coming into your account each month and have two direct debits coming out to qualify for a free account in the UK. Otherwise, to get a USD account with them you need to maintain a balance of at least 2000 in USD or pay a 5/month fee.

Different banks have different fees, so it's worth comparing them all. Some charge you a percentage, others have a set minimum charge.

There's also the prepaid money cards, but again, the fees vary considerably based on provider.

colorado_rob
09-20-2012, 18:46
It has been two years now, but all my previous travel abroad , maybe a dozen trips over 5-6 years, I simply used ATM's and got cash on a regular basis. Yes, this costs a percent or two per transaction, but doing this also gives the user the best exchange rate on their withdrawal. The bank exchange rate. Much better tha "retail" exchange rates at money windows.

I think this favorable rate at ATM's makes up for the relatively small fees. I do assume it would be the same for our international friends travelling here to the US as it is for us US citizens travelling abroad. Perhaps not.

Monkeywrench
09-20-2012, 19:24
As others have said, carry a debit card and a credit card. When you go to the grocery store to resupply, pay with your debit card and ask to add "cash back." You can get $50 or $100 in cash added to the grocery bill and get cash without paying a separate transaction fee.

Odd Man Out
09-20-2012, 21:59
When I travel from the US to Europe, I just use ATM (Cash Machine) and Credit Card. I would assume it would work as well going the other direction, but your should probably ask your banker before you leave. Also check the terms on your Credit Card. In the US, most will charge an extra fee for international transactions, but there are a couple that do not. Also, I have read that recently European countries have gone to using smart cards (with embedded chip). In the US (for now, at least) these are not used, so you credit card would have to have a magnetic strip for scanning and a signature on the back. Cash machine cards also have a magnetic strip plus a 4 digit PIN. Debit cards can be used both ways. Use as a credit card and payment is made from your bank account funds or at a cash machine to get cash (withdrawing money from your account).

turtle fast
09-21-2012, 03:39
As having hiked with a Brit, he had brought with him cash (USD$ obviously) to start and then used his debit card to take out $200 when he needed cash. Unfortunately, he said that the fees were just a fact of life and he factored in the fees....luckily the more favorable exchange rate for the pound made it easier to swallow. You could look to obtain a prepaid debit card once in the US that would lessen your fees for international conversion transactions and bank fees. Walmart for example sells them.

atraildreamer
09-21-2012, 11:50
I would look at the debit cards that you can charge from a bank account. Just about everywhere takes debit cards these days.

Ask your financial institution if they have any agreements with other financial institutions regarding the use of ATM machines. In Rhode Island, for example, all the credit unions allow each others members to use their ATMs without a fee. Additionally, many banks and credit unions have agreements with nationwide ATM networks for either no fees or reduced fees. I was down in Jersey City, NJ, and used a machine that was tied into the SUM network, (of which my credit union is a member), and was only charged $1.25 for a $200 withdrawal. :)

If your financial institution allows it, on arrival in the states, you might start an account with a US financial institution and link to your bank at home. Then you can periodically have funds transferred to the US financial institution, either automatically, or on demand via internet banking. :-? This could reduce, or eliminate high ATM fees. :)

Have a good trip! Welcome to the USA! :welcome

turtle fast
09-21-2012, 12:08
Due to the patriot act and to counter money laundering, it is difficult for a foreigner living abroad to establish an account in the US if not living/based here. Like others said, check with your bank/financial institution about the fees involved in debit card transactions abroad...shop around to find the lowest fee possible (the same with a credit card too)...that is what the British gentleman we hiked with had done. He said getting around the fees were next to impossible. Travelers checks are next to useless, and having a large amount of cash is not practical. Like i said before the more favorable exchange rate for you lessens the blow on the fees.

atraildreamer
09-21-2012, 12:22
Ask your financial institution if they have any agreements with other financial institutions regarding the use of ATM machines. In Rhode Island, for example, all the credit unions allow each others members to use their ATMs without a fee. Additionally, many banks and credit unions have agreements with nationwide ATM networks for either no fees or reduced fees. I was down in Jersey City, NJ, and used a machine that was tied into the SUM network, (of which my credit union is a member), and was only charged $1.25 for a $200 withdrawal. :)

If your financial institution allows it, on arrival in the states, you might start an account with a US financial institution and link to your bank at home. Then you can periodically have funds transferred to the US financial institution, either automatically, or on demand via internet banking. :-? This could reduce, or eliminate high ATM fees. :)

Have a good trip! Welcome to the USA! :welcome

Did a little digging on Google and came up with this article:

http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling/

From the article:

"Below is a list of major banks that have ATM partnerships with other global banks where you can avoid fees:



Bank of America (https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/index.action#ServiceFees3110284395287002) (United States)
Barclays (http://www.personal.barclays.co.uk/BRC1/jsp/brccontrol?site=pfs&task=popup1group&value=4534&target=_self) (England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and certain countries in Africa)
BNP Paribas (http://www.bnpparibas.com/en/home/) (France, Ukraine)
China Construction Bank (http://www.ccb.com/en/home/index.html) (China)
Deutsche Bank (http://www.db.com/index_e.htm) (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
Santander Serfin (http://www.santander.com.mx/index.htm) (Mexico)
Scotiabank (http://scotiabank.com/cda/content/0,1608,CID8040_LIDen,00.html) (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile and Mexico)
Westpac (http://www.westpac.com.au/personal-banking/services/overseas-services/using-atms-overseas/) (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)
ABSA (http://www.absa.co.za/absacoza/) (South Africa)
UkrSibbank (http://ukraine.bnpparibas.com/) (Ukraine)

Moreover, you can also pick a global bank that has branches around the world. I use HSBC (http://www.hsbc.com/) for most of my international banking. HSBC has ATMs all over the world. Using those ATMs means I don’t have to pay those fees. As of September 2011, HSBC has raised their fee to $2.50 USD per ATM transaction when you use a non-HSBC ATM."


So, if you have, or start an account up with one the financial institutions that are part of these global agreements, you can save yourself some serious $$$. Ask your bank...see what they say! :confused:

Montana AT05
09-22-2012, 11:24
Nice post attraildreamer.

I spent some months in New Zealand hiking the TA and all I did was bring cash to exchange upon landing ($800 US) then I just used my debit card at the various banks--never had an issue. I may have lost a bit to fees and exchange rates, but it was no trouble at all.

v0v18
09-22-2012, 11:38
thanks for the advice guys, really helpful

atraildreamer
10-07-2012, 15:37
thanks for the advice guys, really helpful


So when are you planning to come over and start your hike in 2013?

yellowsirocco
10-07-2012, 18:51
I always try to do a little cash back on debit when I am at the post office. Some of the small trail towns don't even have a grocery store that does cash back or an ATM so the PO can sometimes be your only option. Also being small towns the PO won't be able to do much cash back sometimes, but it helps.

MuddyWaters
10-07-2012, 21:14
If you have a Mastercard or Visa, any money machine will give you cash advance, and automatically do the exchange rate. Take out what you need at a time. Not a big deal , at least it wasnt when I was working in europe. Id get the cash I needed for a week, rather than count on everyplace taking my card.

kelvinsmar
10-18-2012, 05:08
One of my friend faced a problem with credit cards and atm's, when he was traveling from one country to another country. So, That day onwards he definitely knows and read every point which are regarding about the credit cards and atm cards. Firstly, We know the complete details for every things, which is useful to us.

slims
10-18-2012, 14:45
I had the same questions as you leading up to my thru-hike this year. VISA Debit for the win. I started out with a fair amount of cash, a couple travellers cheques and a VISA Debit and Credit card. Places like Walmart take the travellers cheques. I actually used one resupplying at Fontana Village (PS send a maildrop or resupply somewhere else. That place is quite expensive) When I used up my initial cash I would withdraw about $200 and keep that for places that didn't take card, like some of the hostels, and then just use the VISA Debit to pay for everything else. I only had to pay fees to withdraw cash (the $2-$3 ATM fee and then a fee from my bank) Didn't have to pay any fees to swipe it. The credit card was just there for if I ran out of money. Hope this helps.

English Stu
10-22-2012, 09:57
As a Brit on the AT I used a visa debit card. The main issue I have had is being asked for ID, not having a US driving licence producing a British one usually raises a smile and was not accepted in my case. I sometimes went into a bank to get money; as to have the ATM eat your card so far from home is a real hassle. I had to produce my passport in banks, they will note the number, again in small communities they will not have seen such a thing and can be suspicious.