Wanted: one foreign banking expert

Really important things that are all settled and ready to go:

  • Accommodation
  • Airfare
  • Match tickets
  • Tours/excursions

Not so important things that are all settled and ready to go:

  • Outfits coordinated by game
  • Skype tutoring for parental units
  • Purchasing of various patriotic paraphernalia

Not so important things that are not settled or ready to go:

  • In-flight DVD-based entertainment: Dexter, Friday Night Lights, True Blood, Mad Men
  • Stockpiling of protein bars
  • Upgrading of Flickr account
  • Creation of matching, bedazzled t-shirts to wear on the airplane because we’re fabulous and coordinated like that

Really, really important things that are not settled or ready to go and we leave in less than two weeks so it is time to PANIC:

  • Cash money

We’re a mere 13 days to departure and I haven’t yet bothered to figure out our money situation.  Cash?  Credit cards?  Travelers checks?  IOUs?  I have absolutely no idea.

We can exchange money.  And have to carry around a bunch of cash and get totally ripped off every time we exchange at a bank or an exchange counter.  Or mildly ripped off while paying a foreign ATM fee every time we make a withdrawal.  (Which would be often, I’m guessing, because we won’t want to carry around too much cash.) 

We can use plastic.  Credit card companies are apparently a little closer to the market rate when they convert the funds.  And then the make up for that odd display of fairness by tacking on a 3% foreign transaction fee.  Wheee!  Jerks. 

We can get travelers checks.  Which are…what, exactly?  I’m pretty sure that the travelers check is almost obsolete and I’m not confident that a significant number of local businesses would even accept them.  Which means we’d have to go to the bank.  Which means: annoying. 

We can might be able to get a SA Travel Card.  According to a press release about the SA Travel Card:

“Once money is loaded onto the card, it gives cardholders instant access to cash from any ATM across the country, and allows them to pay for goods and services wherever the Visa logo is displayed. All transactions performed with the card are free of charge.

The card is valid only in South Africa but the remaining balance on the SA Travel Card can be converted upon departure into the visitor’s currency of choice at any one of the Absa Bureaux de Change.”   

This option is awfully tempting, but apparently isn’t something that I will be able to arrange until we’re physically in South Africa.  (Don’t these people know that I need to PLAN?!)  There isn’t much information about the card available online, which is terribly frustrating because I can’t research the subject to death if I have nothing to go on! 

So, dear friends and family, who wants to figure out this situation for me?  Uncle Rob?  Grandpa Dan?  Anyone?


One response to “Wanted: one foreign banking expert

  1. Well, I do read your blog and can offer to help. I personally do all my banking in the US (have to as I work for the US government) but rarely actually live in the US. During my time in Australia and the Caribbean, I have done all my banking using Charles Schwab.

    Yes they are a brokerage firm, but not important. They have a banking side and have one really really important perk…
    They allow you to use any ATM in the World for free. They reimburse EVERY ATM fee that the other side charges. I use them exclusively as my bank but would def. reccommend opening an account with them, dropping some money in it for your trip, and keeping two cards for the account. Keep one in your hotel, so that if you get mugged, you can always get cash still.

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