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Holiday money

Belfast, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
23 reviews
Holiday money

Hi

Can anyone tell me if I am better to us my credit card when buying in Penang and lifting money or is there any other cheaper way of exchanging money while on holiday there.

Thank you

Penang Island...
Destination Expert
for Penang, Penang Island, George Town, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi
Level Contributor
13,471 posts
209 reviews
1. Re: Holiday money

You could bring cash, and exchange it for Ringgits at a money changer. All licensed and safe. You could use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, or you could use your credit card. Changing cash will give you the best exchange rate. Check with your bank as to what extra charges they will make for using your cards - it can work out expensive if they levy a charge each time you use one. You are going to need cash anyway for things such as buses, taxis, eating at hawker centres and smaller restaurants so a combination of sources of money works best.

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Penang, Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
2,040 posts
32 reviews
2. Re: Holiday money

Hi Shirley W,

In the past we would always bring enough cash on holidays to cover our full trip, budgeting on about $100 per day (when travelling in SE Asia) which would cover meals, transport, and spending money (with a debit/credit card as a backup of course)... We would leave the bulk of our cash in our in room safe, and take out with us only what we need. This method served us well for a looong time, and still pretty much forms the basis of our holiday money arrangement (well, about half and half nowadays - read on)...

Recently we were embarking on a 6 week holiday, visiting Thailand, India, and Malaysia, and staying in budget accommodation with no in-room safe or hotel safety deposit boxes, which would have meant squirreling our cash away in our cases and hoping no-one snooped, or carrying it around on our person (money belts under clothing of course) which wasn't a comfortable prospect. Our other options were travellers cheques (which do not attract a good exchange rate), credit card cash advances (which immediately incur interest, plus a foreign currency transaction fee of 3% per withdrawal, plus possible ATM fees), or debit card withdrawals (with our debit cards attracting both a foreign currency conversion fee and foreign currency transaction fee, plus possible ATM fees) - none of these options offered as good an exchange rate as cash.

Through a combination of Google and TripAdvisor we did some research and learned that Citibank offers a fee free account - no annual fee, no foreign currency conversion fees, no foreign currency transaction fees, and no ATM fees if using Citibank ATMs or Citibank partner ATMs (we're in Australia, we understood from our reading that there are similar accounts offered by some banks in the UK, plus Citibank is global so it may still be an option for you).

Long story short, we applied for a Citibank Plus Transaction Account, loaded it up with part of our spending money for India, made notes of where we could access Citibank ATMs (why pay ATM fees if we didn't have to), and took it and some cash away with us. We found, to our pleasant surprise, that we consistently got a better exchange rate in India withdrawing from our Citibank account than cash exchange rates at money changers and banks!

We have since used our Citibank account in Bangkok (there are 3 Citibank branches with ATMs in Bangkok), and Penang (there is 1 Citibank branch with ATMs in Penang) and have found on every occasion that we have gotten a better exchange rate withdrawing from the account than exchanging cash at money changers.

IF you can get yourself / have a bank account (debit account) that has no foreign currency transaction or conversion fees, then why not consider taking a combination of cash and card! If you can't get / don't have a bank account that is fee free for foreign transactions, definitely go with cash, as the better exchange rate we received through ATM withdrawals was not so much better that it would offset additional transaction/conversion charges.

Hope this helps,

Lise & Sabrina

Belfast, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
23 reviews
3. Re: Holiday money

Thanks a lot for your helpful reply really astounded by how much you put into your relies I will certainly try your options thanks again

Penang Island...
Level Contributor
6 posts
5 reviews
4. Re: Holiday money

Hi Shirley,

I think you can get liecened money changer here easily even im the airport itself. And most of the shopping mall have at least one liecened money changer.

I suggest that you get some myr ready just for the basis and change the rest in the airport once you reach Penang for better rate.

It is better to have myr while in penang cause not all the shop takes credit card especially stalls if you are into street shopping or street food.

Regards,

Clement

Penang Island...
Destination Expert
for Penang, Penang Island, George Town, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi
Level Contributor
13,471 posts
209 reviews
5. Re: Holiday money

Don't change much at the airport - it's not a good rate there.

Penang Island...
Level Contributor
6 posts
5 reviews
6. Re: Holiday money

Hi Shirley,

I think you can get liecened money changer here easily even im the airport itself. And most of the shopping mall have at least one liecened money changer.

I suggest that you get some myr ready just for the basis and change the rest in the airport once you reach Penang for better rate. (compare to chamge in uk or through bank withdrawal machine )

It is better to have myr while in penang cause not all the shop takes credit card especially stalls if you are into street shopping or street food.

Regards,

Clement

Penang Island...
Destination Expert
for Penang, Penang Island, George Town, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi
Level Contributor
13,471 posts
209 reviews
7. Re: Holiday money

Repeat - do not change much at the Penang airport - it is not a good rate there. Wait until you reach where you are going to be staying and then find a money changer.

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Penang, Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
2,040 posts
32 reviews
8. Re: Holiday money

I think what ClementKhoo1986 is trying to say is to change a little at the airport so you have enough to get started (ie. enough to catch a taxi to the hotel)... While it's not a good exchange rate (hence the generic advice not to change at the airport) you will need a little to get you to your accommodation and depending on what time you get in possibly to cover a meal (as not all money changers are open late).

We dont change at the airport, though we do take enough Ringgit to get started (we now bring enough home with us to start off the next trip).

If you end up getting a fee free debit card you can always withdraw on arrival as there are ATMs at airports.

L&S

Kirkham, United...
Level Contributor
107 posts
112 reviews
9. Re: Holiday money

As to Lise & Sabrina's excellent reply, in the UK try looking at Halifax's "Clarity" Card. It's a credit card with no charges for overseas transactions including ATM withdrawals. Have used mine for several years with no problems.

Enjoy your holiday

10. Re: Holiday money

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