Which Credit Card to Use in South East Asia by a UK Traveller?

Looking for some recommendations on what cards you use to take money? I’m from the UK, will be travelling South East Asia for 4 months, going to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and potentially Malaysia. I’ve read Halifax offer a good credit card but I’ve always avoided credit cards… do people use pre-paid travel money cards like the post office etc offer? Any advice much appreciated!

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Answers ( 12 )

    2

    I have the Halifax credit card, never had one before but it’s great, as it saves loads on withdrawal fees. I just have it linked to my other bank account so it auto re-pays every month and so it doesn’t charge you!

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      oh wow okay that does sound good! when you say other bank account does that have to be with Halifax too or can it be with a totally different bank? Think I will go along and speak to them next week actually! thanks 😀

        0

        Mines with Halifax anyway but I think you can set it up with any bank account, otherwise just set up a Halifax savings account online easy!

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          I have a Halifax clarity too, it’s a must-have for traveling for sure. I’m pretty sure you can set up a direct debit from any bank account to pay it off monthly. Book an appointment with a Halifax member and they will go through it all for you so you understand everything ????????

    1

    Definitely, the Halifax Clarity credit card, beats everything else by a mile. Pay it off straight away and there’s no interest, no withdrawal fees, no % taken like on prepaid cards.

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      Thanks, Jade! Money saving expert did tell me that but wanted to get some opinions from people around.

        1

        Oh yeah, Martin Lewis always knows best! I actually didn’t get one, I got the STA money card preloaded one and while it’s good it doesn’t beat that Halifax one, which my boyfriend got. When I go back home I’ll defo be applying for one for my next trip!

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    I have a Barclaycard platinum travel card, £600 limit for withdrawals which you can pay off whenever you want through the app. 0% on sterling fee and withdrawals.

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      I’m using a travel card… I’ve got the anywhere card from Fairfx as it was the cheapest rate going when I signed up to it a couple years back

    0

    Halifax Clarity, no charges. I also “prepaid” an amount on mine so I didn’t have any interest. Not sure we’re really allowed to do that but nobody complained.

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      Looks like I’ll be going for Halifax clarity with perhaps a prepaid Monzo / Fairfx / Caxton Fx as a backup.

    7

    By the way, many small retailers on your itinerary will charge 2 to 5% extra for credit card payments if indeed they will accept credit cards. So the advice to preload your Halifax Clarity card is most useful. You can also use PayPal to prebook accommodation online with some sites e.g. Agoda.

    Last thing, take some small US$ denomination notes with you as well as back up although not too much because with careful planning you should be able to find enough ATMs along your way. One thing I found in Cambodia was that when you pay in US$ you will get Cambodian Riel as change. Not sure if that’s useful or not to you.

    Best answer
    0

    Also you need a backup card in case you lose or have the card blocked. I would suggest you get Monzo too and carry it somewhere else than your clarity card. Also, make sure you have internet banking set up to pay off the clarity card every week to avoid the interest on ATM withdrawals.

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      So yeah that’s the plan – clarity main card, Monzo as a backup.

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        Also, a tip to avoid the ATM fee – walk into any bank in Thailand (i like Bangkok bank) and ask for a Cash Advance on the Clarity card. You pay no ATM fee this way 🙂

    2

    Halifax clarity card is amazing, they are basically a credit card but they don’t charge you conversion rates, but some ATM charge you to take money out, pay it off in full every month and you don’t pay a penny for it, I’ve used it in 9 countries and it’s the best ☺️ 

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      Agree with Mary here, I’ve been using it for 7 months since being away and had no issues.

    0

    Revolut is by far the best-prepaid travel card available. You can exchange to many currencies and lock ur card instantly from phone etc.

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      I am paying each time I withdraw money. It’s not true that there are no fees.

        2

        With Revolut you have to pay the fees at the ATM. So at Thailand 220 baht at any atm which is charged no matter what card you have, but then it uses the current exchange rates – it’s so good, but if you use it on a weekend, they put a markup on the bank rates to account for any fluctuations whilst it’s not open and to avoid losing money – basically they meant, as you pay for things and only take our money from ATMs from Monday to Friday (just use cash at weekends which you’ve already taken out) then you won’t encounter any other fees.Been using Revolut for the past 6 months and it’s definitely the best, this is the only problem which there is with it. You get 200-400£ a month free withdrawal, and then after that, they charge you 2% which is literally nothing anyway.

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          Thanks, didn’t know about the weekend stuff.

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            Neither did I until a few months in, when I noticed I was getting charged a bit more than it should’ve done so, so I spoke to the support and they explained – Revolut is great but they definitely need more transparency about that because I wasn’t aware until I asked!

    1

    Whatever card you use, you will be charged to withdraw the money at an ATM in south-east Asia, as the actual ATM will charge you between 1% – 6% of the transaction that you are making. However, using the cards that you have mentioned above, you shouldn’t be charged by the bank that you are banking with.

      1

      That’s not really true I think. Most of the ATMs in south-east Asia that I can think of that have fees charge a fixed fee, not a percentage (Thailand, Laos, etc.). Some don’t charge a fee (Philippines, Malaysia, etc.). The percentage applied to the exchange rate is charged by your own bank, not the ATM, as long as your card is charged in the currency of the country where you use the ATM (which is what you should always choose).

        0

        Using percentages was the best way to explain, but yes, I have experienced mostly fixed fee charges as well. The fee depends on which bank you use to withdraw the money. For example in Vietnam, the flat rate is 22,000 with Agribank, but with VPBank it is much higher. The fee charged is for the ATM to process the international transaction.

          1

          Sure, but there are countries that don’t charge a fee, i.e., just charge the total balance in peso or whatever, and the percentage is applied by your home bank to this during the exchange rate conversion according to their terms and conditions (which vary by bank).

    1

    I’m using the Revolut app, they said: “It’s free of charge, free withdrawal up to 400£”. After a week, they lowered the limit to 200. Then, I found out that I am paying fees at each ATM, 2 to 5 dollars each time. 

      1

      The fees that you have mentioned are from the actual ATM charging you. This happens whether you use Revolut, Monzo, Natwest or Halifax. The main thing is that your bank is not charging you at the same time as the ATM charging you, which Revolut does not.

        0

        No, they’re not. Revolut charges 2% above £200/€200. These are Revolut’s fees, not the ATM’s.

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          Oh. So there’s no way to escape them ????

            0

            Correct, after £200. But what about the fees he has experienced before the £200 limit?

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              £200 is nothing, so this limit makes it not so useful as a travel card IMO. The fees before the limit will either be the fixed fees charged by the bank or whatever loading Revolut applies to the interbank exchange rate (0.5-1.5%, apparently).

                2

                I find unfair the fact that they state “no ATM fees”. They get you, then you discover that you have to pay anyway. In my opinion, that’s a scam.

                  1

                  I agree. I’d heard of Revolut before but hadn’t got around to getting one. I looked into it again recently and the £200 limit is kind of a deal-breaker for me (I live outside the UK), though I might get one as a backup if I can be bothered.

                    0

                    If you want more perks, you can get a “premium” which gives you a £400 limit a month. Has worked wonders for me in numerous countries in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australasia.

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                      Didn’t know about that option actually. Seems to cost £6.99/€8.50 a month though and still have a £400 monthly limit (with 2% afterward, plus presumably the weekend fee on top). It doesn’t seem that competitive to me. Maybe slightly cheaper than using my regular UK bank account (which charges something like 5% overall), but only by a few pounds a month.

    2

    Caxton card has been amazing, don’t know how I travelled without it before. You can use it in ATMs and in shops, you get a good rate and you only get charged if you use it in the UK. Also, if you book things online when you’re travelling, some of the websites over here in UK aren’t great and my British credit card declines the transaction (I think because it doesn’t verify your address) but the Caxton card works on these sites.There’s an app and you literally just press “top up” and it puts money from your UK account to your Caxton, you can load it in a specific currency or just load in GBP and it will convert it for you when you come to use it.

    0

    I always use HSBC debit never a problem. Also £50 notes for exchange. Make sure if you take notes they are all in good condition as some refuse beaten up ones.

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