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  1. #1
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    Default Best Way to Handle Money???

    hey all - will be in santo domingo for the month of april, US citizen, and was wondering how best to handle cash - im new to the whole traveler's check thing, so could use some help understanding how that works...

    i plan on having a certain amount of cash (US $) on hand to exchange upon arrival (as have done in the past), but want to have a stable source of back-up cash without risking having it on me - are travelers checks the way to go? and how do they work? I will not be staying in high-class resorts or anywhere that would take checks, but would like a way to access money via a bank/exchange? Would i be able to walk into any bank with a travel-check and exchange it for cash without huge fees? Total newb here.

    sorry if this is poorly worded - but thanks for any detailed responses.

  2. #2
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    You are better off with an ATM debit card and a credit card. While you will be able t get the check exchanged at CASA DE CAMBIO, they are a hassle.

  3. #3
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    Agreed. A hotel may take a travelers check and change it a good rate, but exchange houses would give you a lower rate for travelers if they take it at all. Bring a couple of ATM cards (just in case one gets demagnetized or you lose it; that's what I do, travel with two, leave a spare one in hotel safe all the time).

    BTW, if you happen to have a simple ATM card (not a debit card), much better. With a debit card (which are issued by VISA), VISA takes between 2-3% commission from you foreign transactions. I asked my Credit Union for just a simple ATM card and save all those extra charges.

  4. #4
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    i do not own an ATM card - it looks like most banks in Santo Domingo cash travelers checks - is it just dealing with the banks themselves that is such a hassle? Long lines?

  5. #5
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    If you have a bank account you should be able to get an ATM card. All you have to do is ask your bank to give you one.

    I think for most people Travelers Checks are rather antiquated, and that is the reason they are a hassle to cash, but since I never use them, I really don't know if that is true or not.

  6. #6
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    The thing about banks is even if you just go in to exchange dollars you need to bring your passport. Carrying a passport is a hassle and not to secure. I'd agree try and get an ATM card and forget the travelers checks.

  7. #7
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    ATM cards are a logical way nowadays, however some obviously bank sanctioned scams have made the news every now and then, most times in relation to the use of foreign debit or credit cards. All that on top of the apparent wave of ATM frauds using devices from third parties and other scams which can be avoided if one knows about them (search the Forum and the Internet).

    I for one have been a long time user of Traveler Checks. Yes, most businesses will not take them as cash like in the US or some European countries. Some casas de cambio (private exchange parlors), may exchange them at a slightly different rate only (sometimes lower, and sometimes, low and behold a tad higher). Banks here DO take traveler checks. Some banks are more complicated and time consuming in how the go about it (e. g. Banco Popular), other banks take them like cash and with a great big smile (e. g. Banco del Caribe [Caribe Tours Group]).

    I think, this is the type of country where you are best off keeping as many options open as possible. I'd do both. As a mater of fact, I DO both, still while living here, I always keep a small emergency stash of traveler checks, in case all hell brakes loose.
    Just keep only a copy of the receipt with you and safekeep the original.
    It's really simple and the don't expire.

    Don't change with guys from the road! Many of them are very abile hand trick con men and/or may work together with the guy who by surprise assaults you just around the corner. Some are honest, but it's not worth taking the risk finding out.

    Don't flash money!

    And wash your hands after handling money!

    ... J-D.

  8. #8
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    My advise, which I'm sure will be met with some disagreement, is as follows.
    1st choice: Bring as much cash ($US) as you are comfortable with. Do not change it at the airport but look for the best rate at local cambios.
    2nd choice: Interchangeable with 1st choice, ATM debt card. If you have a savings or checking account your bank will give you one for free. Use it very carefully.
    3rd choice: Credit card at ATM machine. subject to high fees
    4th choice: Tvl checks I have been told that some places won't except them any more and places that do are not very polite about it.

  9. #9
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    "a hassle, or long lines at banks"??

    austin - I am not sure what banks are like out in the campo, but the first time I went into a big bank in Santo Domingo, I wondered what the heck all of those chairs were for..... then I took a number and a chair, and sat down and waited 45 minutes until they called my number to go to the teller....and watched as they counted the money 5 times.... and rechecked their work.....and talked on their cell phone.... and talked to the next teller.... and then their supervisor......and that wasn't on a Friday or the day before a holiday...and it was the main branch of one of the top 3 banks in the DR

    Never went back to a bank unless it was life or death.... casas de cambio are the ONLY reasonable choice if one values their time, and the only question mine have is "pesos or dollars" and i'm out the door in 2 minutes to do what I need to do next.

    I am not willing to waste time like that in daily life, and I value my vacation time more than my work time....why spend it waiting around a bank to cash traveler's checks , in 1/2 hour or an hour, every time you need to get more cash, or to get gouged with a bad exchange rate cashing them elsewhere...

    Don't be a wuss. Forget the travelers checks and come with cash (100s are FINE in the DR - don't worry, they WILL have change) and an ATM card, and a credit card. Guard your passport and keep it with you at all times, or in someone reliable's big safe, and put copies of your passport in your carry-on luggage, and leave a copy with with a family member back home so they can fax it down if necessary (if yours gets ripped off while here)

    Carry your wad of cash in one front pocket with a big rubber band around it or in a moneybelt, and your "give-away or take-away " money in another pocket. Carry a second wallet with expired or fake credit cards to give away if someone shoves a gun or a knife in your face.. and act intelligently in the streets, and you will be fine. Don't trust maids, "girlfriends" or shirtsleeve relatives, or new "friends" when it comes to money. Leave your jewelry and expensive watch at home, and wear a Swatch or a Timex for your trip to the DR, if you MUST wear a watch on vacation.

    And NEVER change money in the street - go to a casa de cambio and do your business in private.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by GringoCArlos; 03-27-2009 at 11:48 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by peep2 View Post
    ... Do not change it at the airport ...
    Yes, DON'T. Neither in your hotel... either will rip you off for an easy 15%.


    Quote Originally Posted by GringoCArlos View Post
    ...

    Don't be a wuss. Forget the travelers checks and come with cash...

    IMHO, bad advice. Once cash is gone, wuss or not wuss, there's no way backwards nor forwards.
    $hit happens and a lot of it here. This is why the OP asked. Rather be a wuss than a broke dude. Being cool has nothing to do with being careless.

    ... J-D.

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