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Subject:  ATM & Credit card advice Date:  10/5/2019  4:22 PM
Author:  OrmontUS Number:  24383 of 25289

1) First, make sure you are using a credit card which does not have a currency conversion fee. Many do, but many (including the Costco Visa, HSBC Premier, Capital One) do not.

2) As was pointed out, never let the credit card machine, bank, hotel, whatever do the translation to USD. You may be taken for a ride. I have had a number of arguments at fancy hotels over this - just insist. (I assume they share in the profit with the bank) Be especially careful. The nationality of your credit card is read and your currency (in my case, USD) will show up as one of the choices - with the big green button meaning you accept and the little red button means to leave in the original currency. If in doubt, ask - and let them know if they are mistaken, they will have to reverse the transaction and do it properly.

3) If you need foreign currency, there is always an ATM at airports and train stations. Use a debit card for these transactions. Some atm machines charge a fee (again, make sure you are being charged in local currency and that they are not doing the conversion to usd "for your convenience"). You will find this fee generally lower or not at all at ATM's run by large banks, so avoid "convenience" ATM's. The exception is that, in Japan, the 7-Elevens all have free ATM's (owned by the 7-Eleven Bank, of course). There are some debit/ATM cards associated with brokerage accounts and premium commercial banks which absorb ATM machine fees. Again, make sure your bank is not charging a foreign transaction fee on your debit card (most don't, but a few still do). Once in a while a machine will reject your card. Try a machine from a different bank and you should be OK.

4) Make sure all your cards have chips (most foreign machines no longer have magnetic strip readers). Make sure your ATM PIN is a four digit number (some countries demand this number of digits), and even though US credit cards do not normally have PIN's associated, ask your company to assign one (most will). I have seen these demanded, on occasion, when using a credit card in a transit card vending machine. If you don't have one, and the machine demands it, try hitting the "enter" key - it sometimes works.

4) UBER (and its clones) is your friend. You get the "local price", don't get taken on "the scenic route" and avoid all the scams which involve the driver doing some slight of hand trick with currency. The company (and you) also knows who you have been riding with in case you leave something behind.

(Whose whole chapter on assorted taxi scams basically becomes old news using ride-sharing services like UBER whenever possible. Author of
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