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Travel Budget, Money Matters, Financial Talk Mom, can I borrow ten grand?! Gimme yo mastercard! How the heck can I pay for my trip?! Ideas for making money. How much dough do I need?

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Old 06-29-2005, 08:06 AM   #1
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(I also posted this in the member's lounge, but I thought it might be a good idea to put it up here too...)

So I've never had a credit card, only debit, and before I leave for my semester in Sydney in 2 weeks, I want to get a credit card or two. My parents want me to get an American Express card, and I was also thinking about getting the American Express Travellers Cheque card.

My question: Is American Express accepted widely, especially in Australia and New Zealand? Would you say that, for example, a MasterCard and regular travellers' checks would be a better bet?
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:14 AM   #2
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personally i prefer mastercards as they seem to be more widely accepted especially in the smaller shops. I like the idea of the american express travellers cheque card and the way they will replace it if you lose your card i think that you can use it in atm machines too so its like a debit card of sorts
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:24 AM   #3
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I would also bring your debit card with you . This way if you get in to a money jam your parents can always do an account transfer and you have instant money.
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Old 06-29-2005, 09:15 AM   #4
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I would say get a Visa or Mastercard - it is much more widely accepted. Also, get a PIN from your issuing bank so you can use your Visa or Mastercard to get cash advances at ATMs if necessary.
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Old 06-29-2005, 10:10 AM   #5
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American Express - They suck. They're good if you have a business, but I'm getting the sneaking suspicion you don't. You have to pay them back right away (no grace period), and worse yet, they're accepted in far fewer places than Mastercard and Visa. This is because they charge the merchants a much larger fee than MC/V do.

Traveller's Cheques - They suck. They're good if you're going to a country with no ATMs. Otherwise, compared to using an ATM, you get a worse exchange rate, you'll get dinged an additional fee when turning them into cash, and they're simply a pain in the ass.

Credit card tips in general:

- Watch out for international purchase fees (usually around 1%, but they differ by bank)
- Watch out for credit card surcharges when making purchases (some shops will charge up to 10% extra)
- Don't take out a cash advance unless you're ready to pay 17%-25% APR on them
- Good luck getting one issued within 2 weeks!*

*If your parents have a CC that they can add your name to and have them rush deliver a card, this is what I'd recommend. Otherwise it generally takes a minimum of 4 weeks to get a new credit card.
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Old 06-29-2005, 11:18 AM   #6
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Go Visa/MC. Take your debit card too for ATM's. Avoid cash advances unless its an emergency. The international transaction fees can be as high as 3% so check that out too.

Omi: They have american express that you do not have to pay off. The Blue card and Delta Skymiles card are regular cards. I have the Delta one to get skymiles for free flights. It carries an annual fee. The only card AMEX out there that doesn't have an annual fee is Blue and it gives you cash back.

Good luck!

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Old 06-29-2005, 11:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for the help everyone!

The only GOOD thing about an AmEx is that there's no spending limit - my parents want me to have it just for emergencies, in case I break a leg and have to have a $2000 surgery or something. Otherwise I won't be using the AmEx at all, I'll use a MasterCard or cash.

My debit card has a 3% international fee - pretty steep! I'll have to find out more about the AmEx Travellers' check card, it might be worth having just to avoid the fees since it works at most ATMs.

Thanks again all!
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Old 06-29-2005, 12:00 PM   #8
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I brought my Amex to Aus and really had no problems with it anywhere. I mean I had found that it worked at just about as many places there as it did here in the US.

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