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Subject:  Re: Anybody else have this problem lately Date:  11/17/2012  10:05 PM
Author:  salaryguru Number:  46249 of 138336

I am traveling to Panama as most of you know.

You probably shouldn't take my experience in the Netherlands as an indication of what you might face in Panama. My experience is that every country is different.

I don't know how much international currency experience you have so this might be advice you already know about, but make sure you contact your card holders before you travel and give them dates of your trip. They are all getting really quick to block cards if they don't think the spending pattern is consistent with the customer. Also, ask them about foreign transaction fees. I have cards that vary between 0% and 3% foreign transaction fees. Some charge additional fixed fees per transaction. Obviously I try to use my low fee cards if I can. Debit cards all have different rules too. Make sure you understand what they are going to charge you and when. Debit cards typically charge a lot if you use them for anything other than an ATM transaction in another country (they basically treat it like a high interest loan from the moment of purchase). You can often reduce your fees by using your card in the smartest way possible. For us, in countries that are not credit card friendly, the cheapest way to convert money is often to load up on as much ATM cash as you feel safe carrying using an ATM card, then spend cash. But not always. Sometimes, depending on how regulated money exchange is, you can get a much better conversion rate at a bank or Cambio. In your case, the fact that Panama uses the dollar should simplify the problem a lot.

Of course typically, you figure out the most efficient way to travel just about the time you have to come home. Then you have to cope with all the stupid, expensive mistakes you realize you made along the way.

I'm excited for you. Hope you have a great trip and post often about it.
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