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Author: salaryguru Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 62971  
Subject: Re: Anybody else have this problem lately Date: 11/17/2012 5:02 PM
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Might have to find a bank if the ATMs didn't work! New replacement card before leaving would solve it ...

Thanks for the suggestions. I travel quite a bit so I am always prepared with multiple forms of currency. I do wear a money belt with some US emergency cash. I bring multiple credit and ATM cards and I usually convert some money to local currency prior to leaving the US so that I can be absolutely sure that I can at least get a cab to a bank or hotel from the airport when I land. In the past, I have also carried travelers checks as a possible form of convertible currency.

Most of these practices are a result of experiences traveling to third world countries as much as 30 years ago. In recent years, for example, I've found that travelers checks can often be very difficult to use even in banks. American Express travelers checks can often only be converted to local currency at American Express offices. Those officers are not that abundant where we like to travel and are often not very convenient even in major cities. Credit and ATM cards have made currency issues trivial in most countries . . . until this most recent trip to Holland.

Converting money in banks in some countries can be a very time-consuming and tedious ordeal. I once spent over 3 hours in a Bank in Peru converting currency. The first thing the bank did was collect passports from SGSpouse and I, then they basically held us hostage while forcing us to fill out massive amounts of paperwork and to sit through countless interviews. At the time, monetary conversion in Peru was legal only in the state banks. After that miserable experience, we only traded US dollars for Peruvian currency on the street. . . where the rate was much better than the bank rate, by the way. We figured we were better off facing South American jail time than spending more time in one of their banks. I've also sold US dollars on the black market in Italy when their bank was trying to crack down and control exchange rates.

Once, in Barcelona, my banks all decided that Barcelona was not a safe town for credit cards and all of my cards were blocked. (This was true even though I had called in advance and cleared my cards for use in Spain. It turns out that banks might not consider Barcelona the same as Spain. It would have been nice if they had told me before I traveled. I went back to Barcelona two years later and the banks still wouldn't clear credit cards for use in Barcelona at that time. At least this time I knew to call specifically about Barcelona). For some reason, I had one debit card that would still work in Barcelona. This was fine until I got ready to leave after a two week stay in a 4 star hotel. That charge was higher than the daily cap on my debit card. SGSpouse and I ended up emptying our money belts to convert US dollars and finding an American Express office to convert travelers checks in order to scrape together enough money to pay our bill and get out of Spain. That's the kind of thing I want to avoid in Taiwan. . . or be prepared for.

If Taiwan has transitioned to the new chippy cards, a new replacement credit card will not help this problem at all. US banks are not making the conversion to the chippy. They are maintaining the magnetic strip. A replacement card will simply provide me with a shiny version of the card that can't be used in the new machines. In the absence of specific information about what forms of currency will actually work, I will be forced to bring a lot of cash and travelers checks. I've found sites on the internet that claim that Visa and Mastercard credit cards and ATM cards will work, but that was true in Holland only a few years ago and you never know how old internet information really is.
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