One of the most important things to consider as you travel is being able to access your money. Using the local ATM machines as you travel should be your first choice. You will undoubtedly be stranded without cash and don’t your expect credit cards to be accepted outside of any large resort. It’s never a good idea to travel with a large sum of cash. That’s just asking for trouble!
But an ATM machine could eat your debit card and then what? You can’t rely on a credit card because basically only hotels and large restaurant chains will accept them within most tropical regions.
Use ATM machines and the local currency when travelling abroad as many restaurants bars and shops will not accept anything else. Nor will they accept or have the means to accept credit cards or have any of the current exchange rates. As an example, the USD is not accepted anywhere in Thailand, although there are many money exchange booths set up throughout the tourist districts.
It is highly recommended to only use ATM machines that are inside of a bank and during banking hours. Not only is it the safest way to protect yourself from having your debit or credit card skimmed or worse, if an ATM machine decides to eat your card you will most likely be able to get it back within a reasonable time frame.
Imagine you are overseas somewhere, your cash is getting low, you plan to have a nice dinner somewhere or go on a tour, you stop at an ATM machine in a 7-11 or on the street somewhere and the ATM eats your card. Not a good situation. Especially in a place such as Southeast Asia where the banks are most likely not at all familiar to you and are not affiliated with your home bank in any way shape or form.
Your ATM card should work normally at any ATM machine at an overseas bank, but bring your bank’s contact information with you just in case it does not work as you expect. Um..yeah.. see above… If your PIN number is based on letters, translate the letters into numbers before leaving your country as many ATMs abroad will only have numbers on their keypads.
Always keep a number of small denomination bills handy as many small shops and businesses may find it difficult to make change for larger ones. Especially in the morning before they have had a chance to do some business and get a float of some cash.
International airports will have currency exchange outlets where you can get cash with your debit or credit cards but usually at a lower exchange rate than you will find at a bank or ATM.
Use an ATM that is inside a bank and during banking hours. ATM machines are known to occasionally be temperamental and there is always a risk of losing your debit or credit card, having your card skimmed or worse.
If there is a problem with an ATM machine inside of a bank, you are not necessarily stuck after losing your ATM card and/or having no cash. If you lose your card while using an ATM at a convenience store or on the street somewhere you are at risk of waiting a long time before you get it back. Possibly even days or weeks.