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Old September 12th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Default Cash and / or Traveller's Checks?

Which is better, or both? We will also have plastic, and that's what we'll use when we can, but On the excursions or even for odd expenses around the ship, what's better? Going on a 7 day cruise on Valor on October 8th to Nassau, St. Marteen, and St. Thomas.

Thanx,
Krunch
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Old September 12th, 2006, 11:09 AM
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Love the Eastern Caribbean, can I go with you?

Any of the above will be fine for cash transactions while in port. I have usually used plastic for my purchases, but you need small bills for taxis and tips. While on the ship, the only time cash needed is to tip room service (again you will need the small bills) and in the casino .
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Old September 12th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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Just a word of advice. We got hit with "conversion" charges the last time we used our credit card outside of the US. They nailed us with a sizable charge. We've decided to pay in cash or traveller checks from now on when traveling out of country.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Default Our Experience

We debated the same issues - cash, travelers checks or credit cards. Everything on board went to our Sail & Sign card except for additional tips that we gave to those we felt deserved....call your bank/credit card company as we found when we called...our cards had to be set up to be used outside of the US & any charges would encur an additional 3% fee on all transactions. There is a fee when purchasing travelers checks I was told, so we carried cash. My 16 yr old made a small purchase at a shop in Cozumel and they gave her change back in US currency. She asked if possible that she get a few peso's to return home with & the woman then made the change with a smile. Why worry with the hassle! Keep your cash in the safe in your cabin & only take what you feel necessary on any excursion.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Your conversion charge came from your issuing bank...if they charge too much, drop them and get a charge card at a different bank.

I wandered all over Eastern Europe and used my card to buy souveniers, and the conversion rate was good and there was no per-transaction charge.

That said, I use a multi-tier approach. The ship's bill goes on one card, on-shore purchases on another. We take plenty of cash as well as some traveler's checks. Some ships have ATMs but we've found they don't have enough cash for an entire week, so hit them before mid-week if you need cash...

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Old September 12th, 2006, 01:40 PM
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Well now I can maybe give you a little bit of advice

I have used my (Gold) credit card in the US before and nothing out of the ordinary for charges. The exchange rate is a penny or 2 off, that's it and that's how they charge me it seems. Now that might be because of the card I have, wheter it's a Canadian, Mastercard, or Gold trait I don't know. My suggestion to you would be to check other banks and credit card providers. My other "Ace in the hole" is my GF is bank staff, so most additional charges, if any, get waived for her/me

Krunch

Quote:
Originally Posted by dina
Just a word of advice. We got hit with "conversion" charges the last time we used our credit card outside of the US. They nailed us with a sizable charge. We've decided to pay in cash or traveller checks from now on when traveling out of country.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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We've been searching for a new card ever since we got dinged this summer. It seems the credit card industry has found another way to make money.

When I find one that doesn't charge a percentage per transaction, I'll let everyone know.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 02:08 PM
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Maybe the rules and fees are different in the US, but I don't seem to have that problem here in Canada.

Again, the exchange rate is not bang on, but that seems to be my only extra "charge"

Check into "Gold" cards maybe, and only good companies through a reputable bank and go for a Mastercard or Visa. I used to have an AMEX gold, but dumped it for the Mastercard Gold. Gold has some extra perks, mostly in my case it's usually extra "Air Miles" which I used to book our cruise AND flights. Did I mention that our final cost was about $500 CAD per person (airport fees, taxes, etc) for both the cruise and flight?

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Old September 12th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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That's a pretty good price.

Maybe its just the US credit card companies getting greedy. This summer is the first time its every happened.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Well, good luck with it Carolin

Krunch
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Old September 14th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Hey Krunch... Here's what I'm running into. I don't think any card is safe. :P

Foreign Currency Conversion Fees are an Unwelcome Companion
by Shane Romig for Credit.com

As frequent international travelers will tell you, often the best way to avoid expensive charges involved with exchanging currency or travelers checks is to use your bank card at local ATMs to withdraw money in local currency and to use your credit card for purchases. However, many of the major banks and credit card providers have begun to take advantage of such overseas purchases by tacking on foreign currency conversion fees which can run as high as 4%.

These fees are often hidden in a total dollar charge on your bank/credit card statement, which makes it next to impossible to know how much the actual fee was that the bank/credit card company charged to your account. The disclosure of these fees is usually buried deep in the fine print of the terms and conditions the companies send you when you open your account, and they rely on the fact that very few people consider these charges when selecting a credit card or bank.

On a recent trip to Buenos Aires, I used both my Wells Fargo and HSBC USA checking account debit cards to make purchases in local currency. When my Wells Fargo checking account statement arrived, I was surprised to find a 3% foreign currency conversion fee tacked on to the purchases I made. The fee was separate from the purchase and clearly marked on my bank statement, which was nice, but I wondered why such a heavy fee was added. I took a look at the terms and conditions of my debit card and was surprised to find that “Wells Fargo will assess a $5 fee for ATM cash withdrawals made outside of the United States and a 3% foreign currency conversion fee for purchases made with your Check Card.� The same 3% fee is charged for credit card purchases.

I then went to my HSBC USA bank statement to compare the fee charged to purchases made with that debit card. This time I was surprised to find that there was no conversion fee indicated – simply the amount charged in dollars. Did this mean that there was no charge for foreign currency conversion? I asked HSBC USA, and was told that foreign currency charges were subject to a 1% fee, which was included in the total.

Although I was pleased with the lower fee from HSBC USA, the lack of transparency was worrisome. It made me wonder how many people use their debit and credit cards to make foreign purchases without considering just how much they are being charged. The disclosure of these fees can sometimes be hard to find, as they are included deep in the fine print.

For example, Citibank’s disclosure reads “For each purchase made in a foreign currency, we add an additional FINANCE CHARGE of 3.0% of the amount of the purchase after its conversion into U.S. dollars. This foreign currency transaction fee will be added to the appropriate purchase balance with the foreign currency purchase. The foreign currency transaction fee may cause the annual percentage rate on the billing statement on which the purchase made in a foreign currency first appears to exceed the nominal annual percentage rate.�

This is a clear disclosure, but one finds it deep down in the list of other terms and conditions which very few people read. Wells Fargo does a much better job in highlighting these fees, as the disclosure is right in the initial chart describing the costs and fees of the card under the title “Transaction Fee for Purchases.�

It is difficult to find a card which charges less than 1%, as this is the standard fee that MasterCard and Visa charge for foreign currency conversion. However, from there credit card companies and banks often tack on an additional fee of up to 3%. Furthermore, you may find additional ATM fees added when you withdraw cash from machines in foreign countries.

Before heading off on your next trip overseas, be sure to call your credit card company or bank to see what fees will be applied to your foreign purchases and cash withdrawals. These fees can add hundreds of dollars to the final cost of your trip – money much better spent on fun or gifts.

If your credit card or bank carries fees higher than 1%, consider opening a new account to use for purchases overseas. Hopefully, as more people become aware of these charges and shift their overseas travel spending to cards that don’t stick it to you on your holidays or business trips, the credit card companies and banks will realize that these hidden fees just aren’t good business.

Sample fees charged for Credit Card Purchases*
American Express 2.5%
Bank of America 3%
Capital One 1%
Citibank 3%
HSBC 1%
JP Morgan Chase 3%
MBNA America 3%
Providian Financial Corp 1%
Wells Fargo 3%
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Old September 14th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Well, H*)(!

Using the plastic was always so convenient. Don't guess I really paid that close attention to it! Although I haven't actually made any large purchases, even small ones will add up.

Hmmmpphh, I guess I need to rethink my foreign purchases.

Thanks, Carolin. Good info!
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Old September 14th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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Hi Darlene,

It sure was a shocker for me. Until then, I'll keep looking for a card I can use. They sure know a whole lot of ways to take money out of peoples pockets.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 05:34 PM
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Dina,

Thanks for all the rates!

We usually only use our credit card for the ship and then cash/traveler's checks when off the ship. Now I know that if I need to use a credit card in another country, I'm going to pass on my Bank of America card and only use my Capital One.

By the way, if anyone belongs to AAA, there is no charge for Traveler's Checks. Also, some banks if you meet their balance requirements.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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Carolin,

I just asked my gf who is a loans officer here at a Canadian bank, and she said this...

"If you were to use your bank card to withdraw funds at an ATM, your bank would charge you a set fee (around $3 per transaction). There may be an additional fee that could be charged by the individual machine. If you are using a credit card for a purchase (not a cash advance), there would be no fee, just the currency exchange rate for that day. The rate on the currency conversion would be the same as if you would have walked into a bank to get cash. If you use your credit card for a cash advance, I believe the fees are the same as if you took cash out with your bank card. "

^^^ My GF just typed this for you, so it almost seems that the laws governing US banks and credit cards are different than the laws governing Canadian banks and credit cards.

Krunch
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Old September 15th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Hi krunch and krunch's girlfriend *waves*

I always thought that different countries banks would behave in different manners. It all depends on regulations and things like that. Since I spend a LOT of time in Canada, I'll probably end up getting a Capitol One card. At least I'll only get hit with the 1% instead of 3 or 4%.

Thank you for letting me know about how the Canadian credit cards work on exchange conversion.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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No problem

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Old September 15th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Carolin,

Not to disrespect krunch's gf, but Canadian Credit Cards do in fact charge a "Foriegn Exchange Markup". Both my Gold Mastercard and Gold American Express Card state so in their respective cardholder agreements. I believe they are both in the 2.5% range. This is a fairly recent change (about 2 or 3 years ago) and before that I always used my card in the US as the exchange rate was often better than the over-the-counter rate at the bank. I can almost understand a fee to purchase cash and traveller's checks in person, but credit card transactions are all processed electronically, so there is really no reason (other than greed) to charge a markup. I just obtained a US $ Mastercard which doesn't charge any markup, but the bills must be paid in US funds.

Gray
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Old September 15th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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All I can say is my GF is bank staff at a bank here in Canada. She also told me that one of her co-workers just got back from the Carribean, and no additional charges, other than exchange. I think the easiest fix for people who have this issue is traveller's checks. But I guess they charge you for those too??? Anyway, I went to North Dakota this spring and used my credit car and had no additional charges other than exchange rate.

I don't know what else to say?

Krunch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray_1959
Carolin,

Not to disrespect krunch's gf, but Canadian Credit Cards do in fact charge a "Foriegn Exchange Markup". Both my Gold Mastercard and Gold American Express Card state so in their respective cardholder agreements. I believe they are both in the 2.5% range. This is a fairly recent change (about 2 or 3 years ago) and before that I always used my card in the US as the exchange rate was often better than the over-the-counter rate at the bank. I can almost understand a fee to purchase cash and traveller's checks in person, but credit card transactions are all processed electronically, so there is really no reason (other than greed) to charge a markup. I just obtained a US $ Mastercard which doesn't charge any markup, but the bills must be paid in US funds.

Gray
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Old September 15th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray_1959
Carolin,

Not to disrespect krunch's gf, but Canadian Credit Cards do in fact charge a "Foriegn Exchange Markup". Both my Gold Mastercard and Gold American Express Card state so in their respective cardholder agreements. I believe they are both in the 2.5% range. This is a fairly recent change (about 2 or 3 years ago) and before that I always used my card in the US as the exchange rate was often better than the over-the-counter rate at the bank. I can almost understand a fee to purchase cash and traveller's checks in person, but credit card transactions are all processed electronically, so there is really no reason (other than greed) to charge a markup. I just obtained a US $ Mastercard which doesn't charge any markup, but the bills must be paid in US funds.

Gray
thanks Gray... Looks like the joy is spreading one card at a time.
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Old September 16th, 2006, 02:03 AM
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Krunch,

The markup isn't a seperate charge, it is just part of the exchange rate. I think you'll find that the exchange rate you were charged is 2.5% higher than the actual exchange rate was on that date. For example, I have been charged 1.17645 when the daily rate was 1.15145...unless you are watching, it doesn't look like an extra charge.

Gray
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Old September 16th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Another way to avoid the fees with a Wells Fargo account is to maintain a PMA: Portfolio Management Account. This eliminates most ATM fees with Wells Fargo and also the exchange fee on foreign ATM transactions. You still incur it on foreign purchases if you use it like a Visa card.

The downside is that you have to hold a fairly large sum of money with the buggers to qualify for the PMA account. I think it's $40K. ouch.

In the Caribbean an ATM is basically an unneeded expense. You can bring the amount of money you need with you and stick it in the cabin safe or Purser's safe at the desk. You can pull out any last minute money at a stateside BANK ATM before you board if you do not wish to travel with money on you.

If you are traveling to Europe or Asia an ATM is becoming an almost necessary item. Travelers checks are going the way of the dinosaur. Merchants are not accepting them and American dollars aren't accepted so you need local currency or a Visa or Amex card. If you want local currency the best way is to use a BANK ATM (not something in a Quickie Mart) and obtain it. If you are worried about being charged the fee you are being penny wise and pound foolish IMO. I have seen people spend hours trying to cash travelers checks when many legitimate ATM's were close by.

BTW: Most cruise lines keep your passport and you can't cash a travelers check on shore with a copy of your passport. So either obtain you passport before going ashore or use the ATM.

Take care,
Mike
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Old September 16th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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Let's take a different spin on this.... Use CASH, a wad in your hand may be a better barganing tool to get a better price on that special hat or golf shirt.... Just hold you CASH in your hand while trying to get a better price, as you start to walk away (cash in hand) the vender may give you a better price...
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Old September 16th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Cash is a lot more valuable to theives too. Plastic and traveller's checks are worthless to them.

Krunch

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Originally Posted by Bob M
Let's take a different spin on this.... Use CASH, a wad in your hand may be a better barganing tool to get a better price on that special hat or golf shirt.... Just hold you CASH in your hand while trying to get a better price, as you start to walk away (cash in hand) the vender may give you a better price...
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Old September 16th, 2006, 06:23 PM
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according to discover card, they do not charge exchange fees

http://www.discovercard.com/discover...tside_us.shtml
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Old September 16th, 2006, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krunch
Cash is a lot more valuable to theives too. Plastic and traveller's checks are worthless to them.

Krunch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob M
Let's take a different spin on this.... Use CASH, a wad in your hand may be a better barganing tool to get a better price on that special hat or golf shirt.... Just hold you CASH in your hand while trying to get a better price, as you start to walk away (cash in hand) the vender may give you a better price...
I'am not talking about a $1,000 wad, just enough for that port.... If you think that you might be robbed then I would stay on the ship & eat an extra pizza.... I felt a little uneasy at Key West (Straw Market) but had less than $50 on me....
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Old September 18th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfhawk60
according to discover card, they do not charge exchange fees

http://www.discovercard.com/discover...tside_us.shtml
unfortunately, no place that I got to in Canada takes Discover Card. Grrrrr.. I'm trying to remember if we were able to even use it when we were on our cruise.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 10:22 AM
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Discover cards are taken in fewer places than American Express and in fewer countries. The main reason is that their merchant fee (cost to the merchant) is one of the highest of all major credit cards. Most Visa card issuers (banks) have a negotiable fee but Amex and Discover are a hard fee and are usually handled at an additional charge by a vendors merchant service and thus many vendors choose not to accept them, especially not Discover. These additional charges come right off the bottom line.

Somebody pays for that "cash back" option.

The best credit card to have when you are out of the country is a Visa Card with a large available balance.

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Old September 18th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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Thanks Mike. I remember when I was on a business trip to Geneva. I couldn't use my company Am. Express and had to use my own Visa card for purchases. When I got back to work, I gave it back to my manager since it was useless to me anyway. HAHAA
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Life is too short to let the ship of your dreams sail without you.


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Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
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Old September 21st, 2006, 09:01 AM
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If anyone is interested, we picked up the Capitol One card. It's base is Mastercard so we can use it anywhere and its documented that they do not charge "conversion" for foreign currency.

What's in your wallet??
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Life is too short to let the ship of your dreams sail without you.


Carnival Destiny Feb. 2006
Carnival Fascination Feb. 2007
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
Carnival Valor MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2009
Carnival Glory MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2010
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