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using atm & credit card safely

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Philadelphia
posts: 17
reviews: 3
using atm & credit card safely

I was talking to an American woman who lives part time in Antigua and she told me not to use any atms at all or any credit cards due to information being stolen and money taken out of your account. I have never heard of this except that once in a while in the US someone puts a sleeve over the atm port. I found her information really hard to believe. Any thoughts would be helpful. thanks

Bethesda, MD
posts: 1,972
reviews: 24
1. Re: using atm & credit card safely

That's good advice. You're better off with travelers checks. Do a search, and you'll find a bunch of reports.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
posts: 7,591
reviews: 148
2. Re: using atm & credit card safely

You should search the forum for "Antigua ATM" - plenty of threads on this subject going back a year or more.

Ohio
posts: 72
reviews: 3
3. Re: using atm & credit card safely

What about getting a separate pre-paid or prefunded VISA card that could be used in ATMs?

I used one previously in Europe. The card was not attached at all to a checking or savings account. It was a separate card that I got at a AAA office where I funded it with the amount of cash that I might want access to while gone, and it could be used at ATM machines. Whatever amount I did not use while traveling, could be accessed via ATM here in the states.

I'll be in Guatemala in early March and am still trying to figure out to do money-wise.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
posts: 7,591
reviews: 148
4. Re: using atm & credit card safely

If a bank-associated ATM card has unauthorized withdrawals, the bank refunds the loss. Do you know if that would that be the case with the sort of card you've used?

Marshall, Missouri
posts: 98
reviews: 11
5. Re: using atm & credit card safely

My wife and I returned recently from a 3 week trip to Guatemala. I am happy to report we had no problems using ATM's.

This was an issue I had before we left. As the Hopefulist reported, there are several posts concerning this issue. It was through these posts that I was given the idea to set up a seperate debit travel account. I started off with a few hundred dollars in this account. After a couple of withdraws the balance was down to just a few dollars. When I needed more cash I made an online transfer. I also had the e-mail address of the person in charge of this account at our bank. I would drop her a message to let her know of what should be happening and she would reply that things were okay and report any fees. Now that we are back, we only keep five dollars as a balance in case the card was compromised. We felt good that the main account was not needed or put at risk for this trip.

I hope this helps and I hope you love Antigua as much as we did.

New York City, New...
posts: 3
reviews: 15
6. Re: using atm & credit card safely

my family and i travel frequently to guatemala, we do take cash with us and exchange it there. it is understandable if you don't want to carry cash.

we actually opened up an account in guatemala and that's where we have our money and take out little at a time when we need it.

i believe citi bank is now in guatemala so it would be easier if you live in the states to open the account. but one thing is citibank is a little difficult to find in guatemala. Banco Industrial is the better one, they are everywhere.

travelers checks are fine also but alot of the shopping areas are markets and they don't take cards nor checks. so just make sure you change the check prior going to these places

Ohio
posts: 72
reviews: 3
7. Re: using atm & credit card safely

hopefulist, good point. No, I don't think those other cards would be reimbursed. Since I posted, I also met with my bank and they reassured me that if my ATM account was impacted, it would be reimbursed by the bank. But of course, the ideal is to prevent it from happening.

They suggested something similar to what TD-MO did. They suggested a separate savings account to be set up with the funds that we thought we might need for our travels with a separate ATM card linked to it.

Philadelphia
posts: 17
reviews: 3
8. Re: using atm & credit card safely

Thanks for all your help and advice. I just returned from my trip, had a great time and had no issues with ATMs but I check my account often, especially when back home in the States. I used an ATM at a bank in Antigua that had a bank employee with I.D. to help out (and yes I know an I.D. could be easily faked but the bank was open at the time and the person was in full view of the rest of the people in the bank) and one in Panajachel and had no problems. i did bring cash to change into quetzales but not enough. Hate to pay those surcharges, though. My one bank will reimburse me but unfortunately that card didn't work in Pana. I will look into the Visa card that you can load as I go to China in the spring. Again, thanks.

Ohio
posts: 72
reviews: 3
9. Re: using atm & credit card safely

tdbdiver, welcome back! We have a little more than a week before we leave. I hope to see a trip report from you somewhere her on Trip Advisor, no matter how brief or long. :)

Marshall, Missouri
posts: 98
reviews: 11
10. Re: using atm & credit card safely

ltbdiver, glad you had a good time with no major issues!

I could not get my card to work at one of the ATM's in Antigua.

Fortunately, I tried another machine and that one did not cause a problem.

The same thing happened in Panajachel. One did not accept my card while another did. Outside of that it was an incredible trip & I hope to back.