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Avoiding Internantional fees when diving outside of US?
DiveGirl - 5/03/2009 7:06 PM
Category: Travel
Replies: 8

I’m going to Belize in June and was wondering if anyone had any tips on avoiding International Fees on credit cards? Is it best to take travelers checks? I hate traveling with a lot of cash on hand.

Any tips would be great!

Thanks! I can’t wait to go diving!
Agilulfo - 5/04/2009 1:03 PM
One option is to bring your ATM card and withdraw from your checking account from most ATM machines in foreign currency.
Greg - 5/04/2009 8:25 PM
I know a lot of places in Mexico accept U.S. Dollars. Not sure about Belize though...maybe contact your hotel and see what the locals like. Maybe you can negotiate better deals by using U.S. Dollars. Allthough the all might dollar isn’t as valuable as it once was :)
m_grieco - 5/04/2009 9:24 PM
Yeah, most places will accept the US dollar, just know what the exchange rate is before going there. But I know you mentioned you didn’t want to carry large amounts of cash on you. When I travel I usually just use the credit card only does 3% extra...not too bad. I know the ATM is also an option, there is no currency exchange fee, just a bank fee (usually $5). When I went to Indonesia, I actually paid for most of my trip before I actually went there which was nice. I just did a money transfer of funds to cover the cost of hotel/diving/meals so I didn’t need to carry a ton of cash on me. Some things to think about. If I was going to Belize, I’d probably just bring cash and use my credit card when necessary. I get travel mile for every dollar spent anyway, so it’s money going towards a future trip.
divemaiden - 5/06/2009 8:14 PM

Check with your credit card company to see what there policy is on foreign exchanges. (Mine really stinks, they charge me a foreign exchange fee if I buy something online from a foreign country even if the charge is in US dollars).

Check with your hotel to see if they will exchange traveler’s checks, or if there is a bank nearby that will, as some vendors won’t accept traveler’s checks. Also find out what the exchange fee each charges. Sometimes the hotel will give you a better deal than the bank, sometimes the bank is the best bet. I think in Belize US currency is accepted almost everywhere, but it has been a while since I’ve been there.

Also, check out Belize’s tourism website. They may have some helpful information about currency, etc.
mermaidseeker - 5/08/2009 1:40 AM
Check your credit card policies. I called all of mine, and the fees were anywhere from 1-5%. I found a card that charges 0%, and I use that one when I go out of country. I also called the other companies back and told them why I will no longer be using their card. They really didn’t seem to care, but if enough people do the same thing it may change.
JimSTX - 5/08/2009 8:58 AM
Most credit unions issue credit cards that charge just 1% for currency exchange. The big banks tack on an additional 2%, just for the pleasure of your business. I think Capital One doesn’t, but I use my local credit union’s card when I travel. JS
georoc01 - 5/12/2009 11:54 AM

As far as Belize goes, I believe the Belize dollar is fixed to the US Dollar at 2 to 1. And I didn’t find anywhere in San Pedro last week that won’t take US dollars, but expect change in Belizean currency.

As far as charges go, I find that my Capital One Card has very good rates and is a card I only use on international trips. That way if something happens and the numbers are stolen, I just cancel that card and it doesn’t effect my other accounts.
h2ofria - 5/12/2009 4:14 PM

I was in Belize last week, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. We all used cash U.S. dollars with no problems. The exchange rate is 2 Belizian dollars to 1 U.S. dollar but the Belizian prices were usually twice as high as in the U.S. so you really don’t get any deals because of the exchange rate. All of the businesses and vendors take US dollars but only give change in Belizian dollars.

One person said their credit card would not work in the ATM. I only used my credit card once and my credit union only charged me 1 penny on the dollar for the exchange, not a bad deal.

Before we left our group leader, who has been to Belize many times, recommend using only cash or travelers checks because some divers on previous trips had had their credit card numbers stolen.

As an aside, the diving off Ambergris caye was a big disappointment. The reef has been heavily overfished. Most dives were spent drifting over coral with an occasional fish swimming by. The only exception was in Hol Chan reserve, not a lot of variety but there were lots of fish, morays, eagle rays and sting rays plus a few nurse sharks.