Credit card w/ no transaction fee or local currency?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Bhsu21, Jan 7, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Bhsu21

    Bhsu21 Silver Member

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    I'm going to Taipei for three weeks. I'm not sure if we should change and use local currency or use my Chase Sapphire w/ no foreign trans fee at restaurants/shopping.

    What do you prefer?
     
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  2. bmg42000
    Original Member

    bmg42000 Gold Member

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    Use your Chase Sapphire and get the points .
     
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  3. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    I always find it a pain to get cash in the local currency -- you either get screwed with high ATM fees for foreign transactions, or you get screwed with the exchange rate.

    I would say stick with the Chase Sapphire as much as possible.
     
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  4. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    This is milepoint. Of course use Sapphire and build up your points base :)
     
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  5. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    The Chase Sapphire will get you the exchange rate of the day that Chase quotes, with no transaction fee. If you have, say, a Citibank or HSBC ATM card, you can usually get the same daily rate from the ATM, or with a 1% fee. The rate depends on the type of account you have.

    We're buying local currency from B of A because there won't be a Citibank ATM for a good deal of our journey. (Or they'll be across towns with horrible traffic.) Small fee for amounts under $1000. Obviously, an ahead-of-time currency purchase is a small bet that the exchange rate at time of purchase will be on average lower than individual daily rates on days of withdrawals.

    Take both, either for emergency back-up or for small spending on taxis, street vendors, hotel maids, etc. (NOTE: Never been to the ROC.) Remember to call Chase and your bank ahead of time to let them know of your travel.

    And of course you should aim for more points....
     
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  6. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    The website isn't called "localcurrency" now, is it? ;)
     
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  7. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    I actually considering using this prepaid American Express card from AAA as a way to get local currency at ATMs:
    https://www212.americanexpress.com/...e=default&name=aaa_faqs&type=intbenefitdetail

    It has an activation fee ($15, waived if activated before March 15, 2012) and has a flat ATM fee (first use per month is free, $2 thereafter) but no foreign transaction fee. So if we withdraw $200+ at a time we beat the 1% foreign transaction fee that our local credit union charges. It certainly beats the ATM fees that my "global" bank charges for international use ($5 + 3%).

    The "drawback" is that you have to be an AAA member, and possibly it only applies to AAA members in southern new england (I'm not sure if other branches get access).
     
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  8. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

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    There is certainly an inherent bias against local currency on this site, but being realistic you will need it in Taipei. I lived there for two years and can tell you that many merchants, small restaurants (some of the best eating in Taipei!), taxis, and places like the night markets, jade market, flower market, etc. will NOT accept a credit card.

    If you plan on staying, eating, and making all your purchase at an international class hotel you could probably get away with just using a credit card, but you will also miss the best Taipei has to offer. You can have the most fun in this city just wandering through a night market and sampling some juicy dumplings or picking up some truly unique souvenirs at the weekend jade market... but they are part of a cash economy.

    Taxis (or the MRT) are a safe, inexpensive way to get around Taipei, but taxis usually only accept cash unless you are going to or from the airport.

    You can change money at the airport at a fair rate at one of the big Taiwanese national banks' windows, just beyond customs, but before you exit the secured area. In the airport proper there are also ATM's that you can withdraw some cash in NT$ (New Taiwan Dollars) There are also HSBC atm's scattered throughout Taipei.

    I also carry a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, but in Taipei, usually only use it when checking out of my hotel.

    Although this is a "contrarian" opinion, I hope you find it also useful. Enjoy your trip to Taipei...it's a wonderful and often unnoticed destination.
     
  9. davythefatboy

    davythefatboy Silver Member

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  10. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Use the card where possible but like HiIslands said, you'll need cash for many activities. Of course if you're into shao long bao (juicy dumplings), you have to make a stop at the original Din Tai Fung.
     
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  11. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    I signed up for a Capital One checking account to get no fee ATM when I withdraw local currency.
     
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  12. Bhsu21

    Bhsu21 Silver Member

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    Thanks everyone for their help!!

    I'm familiar w/ Taipei. Parents are from there, but I grew up here with many visits there growing up. I lived there for almost 2 years, and that's where I met my wife. We're going back so she can visit her parents.

    It's just when I lived there four years ago, I wasn't into points. I paid everything with cash. Plus the cards I used had foreign trans fees.

    Now I have these reward credit cards, I just wanted to know what would be better. I'll bring both. We might have some big dinners with family so might use the credit card, if the restaurant will take it.

    The first meal I'm eating is Ding Tai Fung! It's always the first and late thing i want to eat!! The service is always so good there, even when it's busy. Love the food all over Taipei.
     
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  13. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    That's both a hassle in setup and figuring out how much to withdraw later. If you frequently do international travel (and even if not) you really should have at least one credit card without forex fee, and at least one debit card that is easily usable overseas (this often coincides with a good domestic debit card as well - e.g. Schwab reimburses all ATM fees anywhere, and has no forex fee).

    If wherever you're going widely accepts credit cards, use your credit card. Otherwise, just stop at the ATM in the airport to withdraw local currency.
     
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  14. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

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    一路平安!

    Have a great trip!
     
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  15. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    I cannot agree more.
     
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  16. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    I certainly agree, but I probably only take 1 international trip a year (or fewer :( ). So it's more of a hassle to set up a checking account just for international travel. I've got too many checking/savings accounts as it is. I already have a CC without a forex fee, but for cash the pre-paid card seems to be an easy enough solution for a single trip, and I can always reload it online if necessary during our trip.

    Also, I can't find anywhere on the Schwab site that states there are no foreign transaction fees on the ATM card (not that I don't believe you, but its nice to be able to see it in writing somewhere official).

    EDIT: The AAA prepaid card can be reloaded with a regular Amex Cards. I wonder if it still earns membership rewards, or SPG points this way...
     
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  17. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    I'm wondering the same thing. Anyone have experience with these reloadable cards?
     
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  18. TheTravelAbstract

    TheTravelAbstract Silver Member

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    For cash I like to use my Ally Debit Card. They are similar to Schwab with No foreign fees and they refund all ATM charges every statement.

    It was a life saver when I was living in Buenos Aires where EVERYTHING is done in cash.
     
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  19. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    These are usually more expensive than just using a debit card at an ATM. They are designed to produce "escheat"- balances left unused, and have high FX costs when purchased in foreign currency (many of them are labeled "no-fee" but teh FX rate applied is usually quite unfavorable to the consumer. If you have a no-fee debit card taking cash from an ATM on arrival will be cheaper, for sure.

    Many banks worldwide have no-FX fee ATM/debit cards. HSBC globally offers Premier customers no FX fee at any HSBC ATM anywhere. Citi does the same for some classes of customers from some countries, and not others. If you have a Citi debit card clarify with Citi before leaving. Many other US banks, especially online ones, reimburse fees if you are charged them (Schwab, Ally, INGDirect, some CapitalOne, most credit unions)
    If you can use a no-fee credit card you will generally get the best FX rates. That is because the FX rates are done on a bulk rate, not by the issuing bank, so volumes are high and commissions are low. Soem ARM transactions work that way, others do not, even in Taiwan, but all MC/Visa transactions work this way. American Express varies by country.

    I travel globally, constantly (mostly consulting with credit card issuers and processors). I use may HSBC US$ debit card to take cash (although I use a French domestic account for Eurozone) and generally use the Chase Sapphire card fro purchases, unless I am pursuing some specific promotion on another card.

    It is always a good idea to advise your banks that you will be using their cards abroad, and name dates and countries. Soem have an online option for that, others do not. If you expect to use a PayPal account while in Taiwan make certain you fill out the online PayPal travel advice, because they will freeze your account if you do not.
     
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