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ATM Machines and Exchange

... ATM machines and exchange rates when travelling ...

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Many readers often ask us where is the best place to change money when travelling to X country. As carrying large amounts of cash or even travelers cheques can be risky and even slightly nerve racking, we do not recommend it.

Instead, it is much safer and easier to use the ATM machines that are to be found all over the world, even on small idyllic islands. When you use an ATM machine in a foreign country you will normally be charged a small fee, so it is worthwhile checking with your bank what that fee is as some may not charge if you use an ATM at a bank in its own network. For example some accounts at HSBC in Hong Kong don't charge any fee as long as the machine you are withdrawing money from is part of HSBC, even if it is in another country.

When you use an ATM machine in a foreign country the money dispensed will be in the local currency and the exchange rate is often even better than the rates you would get from a local bank or regular currency exchange shop.

There are though some restrictions to using ATM machines, and each bank will have its own rules and regulations. For example in Thailand you can only withdraw a limited amount from most machines at any one time, this amount is normally around 20,000 Baht or so. There may also be limitations on the amount you can withdraw from your own bank in your home country so again checking with them helps.

Also remember that some banks charge for this, so check with your bank. The charges are not always just at your bank's end as well. In Thailand for example, all ATM machines now take advantage of people using overseas ATM cards by charging them THB 150 per transaction, this can only be avoided by using an AEON bank ATM machine which thankfully does not charge you anything.

Of course, it should also go without saying that the same precautions you use at home, such as checking nobody is stood too close when entering the PIN number, or checking that the machine or card slot has not been fiddled with, applies no matter where you are using the ATM. See also: Using your ATM card safely.

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