Just give me the money!

#1 Sep 28th, 2009, 22:54
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  • MadameGeorge is offline
#1
Hello all,

I'm off to India the day after tomorrow and find myself in a bit of a quandary. Basically, I only have the one debit card, a Maestro, which is not to be trusted: it works in most foreign ATMs, but my bank is super paranoid and during recent trips to China and Russia has tended to block the card first and ask questions later. This then means me having to call a premium-rate number to unfreeze my account after each transaction in one case, the card could not be reactivated and I was forced to borrow cash from friends for the rest of my stay. I've been told there's no way they can red flag the fact that I'll be in India for the next four weeks and that I'll just have to lump it.

So... I'm going to keep that card back for emergencies and the decision is now a toss up between acquiring a prepaid travel card AMEX or Post Office) or travellers cheques. I can pick up either over the counter tomorrow and am leaning with the latter (better the devil you know, even if it does make me look like a Luddite), although I do like the convenience of plastic.

I know this is relatively well trodden ground on this forum, but due to the last minute nature of my position, and the fact that I know my existing card isn't to be trusted, anyone out there with advice for what route to take would be welcomed with open arms.
#2 Sep 28th, 2009, 23:49
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  • edwardseco is offline
#2
Use either, flip a coin. I take TCs although I found I didn't use them all last trip because cards sufficed. Find a bank with Forex operations and cash a TC. Some banks are much better that nothers. Some give the creeps with staff referring me to private operations. I use SBI, Paradise, Hyderabad. While cumbersome & antiquated, we know the routine and its reasonably painless..
#3 Sep 28th, 2009, 23:58
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#3
Thanks for the feedback. There does seem less that can go wrong with TCs; having never used the Travelex/Post Office system, they feel like the safer choice. It's years since I cashed a TC though - all you need is your passport and signature, right?
#4 Sep 29th, 2009, 07:34
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  • wonderwomanusa is offline
#4
How about phoning the bank that issued your ATM card? Tell them that you'll be in India and expect them to honor the use of the card while you're there.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#5 Sep 29th, 2009, 09:47
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  • Hal is offline
#5
Yeah, what wonderwoman said. My Mastercard does the same thing unless I tell them in advance.
#6 Sep 29th, 2009, 15:44
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That would be a good idea, Hal & Wonderwoman, but as I said, they've told me that there is no way they can red flag the fact that I'll be in India. I have tried getting a note on my account in the past, but to no avail. Looks as though I'm going with TCs.
#7 Sep 29th, 2009, 15:54
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  • nayantara is offline
#7
Hi MadameGeorge

The last time we went to India (Oct 2008), we took a Visa Travel Money card (pre-paid, debit card you use at any ATM, so I think like your pre-paid AMEX that you mentioned). Anyway, it was great - worked in all the ATMs we accessed in the South I can't remember the fees & charges involved but they weren't too bad. We had our credit cards as back up. I have used TCs in the past but found the VISA Travel money card much less of a hassle.
#8 Sep 29th, 2009, 15:56
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  • nayantara is offline
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Oh, forgot to mention. It was linked to our savings account at home so we could transfer money across if we needed to. And it was activated straight away.. Hope this helps.
#9 Sep 29th, 2009, 16:58
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#9
That's very interesting to hear - these cards do sound extremely convenient. The top-up Visa I'm looking at would actually be independent of my bank account, although I believe the balance can be topped up online. I'm still caught in two minds, but am leaning towards the TCs.
#10 Sep 29th, 2009, 17:00
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  • Nick-H is offline
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadameGeorge View Post That would be a good idea, Hal & Wonderwoman, but as I said, they've told me that there is no way they can red flag the fact that I'll be in India. I have tried getting a note on my account in the past, but to no avail. Looks as though I'm going with TCs.
Telling them you'll close the account can work wonders.

I had a problem with my UK bank, two weeks before leaving for six months in India: I had locked myself out of internet banking, had sold my house, and was having trouble getting them to send documents to a known address. I eventually assured them that they were about to loose a 30-year customer, and arrangements were made within half an hour!
~

Currently mobile browsing... have turned off pics, etc. Will try to catch up with all the birds, food, etc, in a week or two!
#11 Sep 29th, 2009, 17:03
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  • nayantara is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadameGeorge View Post That's very interesting to hear - these cards do sound extremely convenient. The top-up Visa I'm looking at would actually be independent of my bank account, although I believe the balance can be topped up online. I'm still caught in two minds, but am leaning towards the TCs.
Sorry, what I meant to say was that the card was independent to our savings account but we could top up online...so it sounds similar to what you've been looking into.
#12 Sep 29th, 2009, 17:59
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#12
Ah, that makes more sense, nayantara.

Looking at the terms and conditions of the cash passport a little more closely, it says no charge will be made for ATM withdrawls but...

Quote:
5.8 If a Card transaction or ATM withdrawal is made in a currency other than that loaded on the Card the amount will be converted into the currency of the Card. The exchange rate used for the conversion is the wholesale market rate or the government mandated rate determined by Visa in effect the day the transaction is processed, increased by five point seven five(5.75) percent.
The card is available in five currencies - guess I'd go for GBP - but I wonder whether I'd be losing money on the transaction compared to TCs or would it not make that much of a difference? Currency exchange is not my strong suit, as I'm sure is more than obvious, and any guidance would be most welcome.
#13 Sep 30th, 2009, 07:10
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#13
Nor mine, I'm afraid. I vaguely remember my other half working this out last time and that it was much of a muchness. But don't quote me on that! I think we were won over by the ease of it. I had used TCs on an earlier trip (2001) when they were the easiest choice!
#14 Sep 30th, 2009, 13:22
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  • dillichaat is offline
#14
Quote:
The exchange rate used for the conversion is the wholesale market rate or the government mandated rate determined by Visa in effect the day the transaction is processed, increased by five point seven five(5.75) percent.
That's robbery! Not only will they give you a bad rate, they'll paste 5.75% on top !

Call your bank, I know for a fact that they CAN flag accounts or reset their anomalous transaction scanning software for an individual account. Of course, this means they'll actually have to do something for the money you pay them which is why they say no. Talk to the branch manager and tell him that either it happens or you walk.
"It is preferable to have a criminal for a servant rather than a fool because a criminal's actions are predictable and you can protect yourself against them, whereas there is no telling what a fool's next move will be.
#15 Sep 30th, 2009, 16:04
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#15
It does look like robbery. I've tried everything with the bank, but I genuinely belive they're not pulling a fast one; it's more a question of utter incompetence and is explained well here (I'm one of the ones for whom it makes little difference). Anyway, I'm off this evening and should have things on my mind other than money.

You don't need a visa for entering India, do you? (joke)

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