Credit Cards

Traveling in Asia means spending money in Asia. That means fees. There’s great advice out there about here to change your money. Generally, banks and ATMs in the city center have the best rates if you are careful about the associated fees when picking one. The currency changing place in the airport (or even worse, before you go) has some of the worst exchange rates and fees. In Bangkok, the recommendation is to change a little money at the airport for cab fare and walking money for the first few hours, but do your real pull at an atm once you get into the city.

How can you make this even easier? Credit cards! It’s something that if you plan it right, is easy to make life a lot better for you, and planned wrong, gets expensive fast. Most credit cards that people carry are designed for US-based use. There’s going to bet what’s called a ‘foreign transaction fee’ tacked onto every transaction you make outside of the country. For a general American Express, it’s around 3%. For some cards, even more. If you listen to commercials during the Olympics, yes, Visa is taken more places, but there’s still a fee.

However, there are several cards that you can get that don’t have a foreign transaction fee! Over the course of a trip, the savings really add up, and you have the added benefit of not burning through cash. I’ve got two that should keep me generally covered – an American Express Platinum I got due to all of my work travel ( which also comes with great emergency travel Medical insurance and other perks for foreign travel) and the new Chase Sapphire Preferred, a Visa card that also doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. Kavitha just got a Sapphire Preferred of her own, so she’s all set too.

Final tip – the currency conversion rate site I see most frequently mentioned is Xe.com.

1 thought on “Credit Cards

  1. For withdrawing money overseas, Capital One is my go-to. No foreign transaction fees or ATM fees (and if the ATM has fees, it reimburses you) … They’re not quite as No-Hassle as they advertise, but it’s worth it. And you can’t use plastic with street vendors, cabs or plenty of other places where you can use plastic state-side… if you have enough time to get one before you leave?! (PS – there are definitely ATMs at BKK – you don’t have to exchange dollars…)

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