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Old 03-22-2008, 09:30 PM   #1
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Do cruisers carry a credit card (or several) with huge limits? How about accessing your US bank accounts while in other countries? is it easy? do you carry a lot of cash? or rely on plastic mostly? are there any books about the daily financial aspects of cruising?

reading the bumfuzzle logs about getting through panama, sounds a bit bewildering, i'd probably be in less of a good humor than they were about it.

is it really a hassle, getting checked into most countries? or mostly not? i had envisioned popping into an office, showing my documents, paying a fee, getting a document or some proof of checking in...done. maybe an occasional inspection.
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Old 03-22-2008, 11:29 PM   #2
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Do cruisers carry a credit card (or several) with huge limits? Yes, generally within their ability to pay off the accrued amount. A better facility is a Debit card which when used the monies are taken out of a specified account to pay the amount incurred.

How about accessing your US bank accounts while in other countries? On line banking is fairly common place in the developed world. is it easy? Depends on what arrangements you have with your banker.do you carry a lot of cash? Cash will be necessary for day to day purchases and where plastic is not appropriate. or rely on plastic mostly? Plastic when cash is not appropriate. and are there any books about the daily financial aspects of cruising? Yes , Check the posting in the ship's library -

"Easy Reading", To while away that leisure time" Jimmy Cornell's "A passion for the Sea"

Well worth the investment - will address many of your good questions


is it really a hassle, getting checked into most countries? Yes it can be !!! especially if you are badly dressed , rude or don't have the required documentation - Also if you are impatient.

Each Country (and almost every clearing in/out port) will be different, will have officials who interpret the rules as they see them.



or mostly not? i had envisioned popping into an office, showing my documents, paying a fee, getting a document or some proof of checking in...done. maybe an occasional inspection.

Unfortunately , your vision will apply only to a minority of places - for example :- on arriving at a clearing in/out port , You will anchor your boat - no one will get off , you will fly the yellow quarantine flag, you will contact the port captain by VHF for instructions, you will then wait for the doctor, a customs officer, an immigration officer, a coast guard officer, a port officer to arrive either together or singly or in groups. The process can take a long time

In other places , anchor your boat - get in your dinghy- into a one shot office - twenty minutes later ---- All done !
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Old 03-23-2008, 07:57 AM   #3
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is it really a hassle, getting checked into most countries? Yes it can be !!! especially if you are badly dressed , rude or don't have the required documentation - Also if you are impatient.

Each Country (and almost every clearing in/out port) will be different, will have officials who interpret the rules as they see them.
If you present yourself wearing sunglasses, barefoot and with "attitude" it will take a week to do what could be done in 30 minutes. You could also find yourself paying for the customs officials' transport and time to get to your yacht to do an inspection and if "attitude" continues you can bet that your boat will be "ripped apart" in a search and they WILL find something illegal. It is advised to show maximum respect (for the officials and their country) when checking in.
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Old 03-23-2008, 01:54 PM   #4
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Credit cards - money. See my long answer in my Cruiser's Dictionary: http://www.cruiser.co.za/faq5.asp , scroll down to "money". A few comments/additions to this. I have learned that a debit card for voyagers is a very bad idea. A credit card is what we have, and what allows us to report fraudulent activity for up to a year. I've been told that debit cards do not provide that kind of security, and you must report the offense within 30 days - see my last paragraph under "money". We have found that you can usually use a credit card for just about everything everywhere in the world, including the "difficult" places such as Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and Easter Island (!). But you need a good cruising guide to help you, since not every place has a bank or money changer! We carry very little cash. With monthly automatic payment of the credit card balance, we don't need huge limits, indeed request smaller limits to protect ourselves. We can notify our bank in advance if we expect to make a large credit card purchase so that it is approved as an exception to our normal activity.

The only exception we've found so far to being able to buy everything with a credit card has been a very few grocery stores in Scandinavia that required a local bank debit card. Though we discovered that our US credit cards worked many places in the Baltic where our cruising companions' US credit cards did not work. Beats me what the difference was, though.

I do almost all our financial transactions on line, and might write six checks a year, and probably this year I'll start paying the IRS on line as well, eliminating four of those checks! It helps that we have two banks with very personal service - unusual activity is noticed almost immediately.

To save you the time of searching all the FAQs questions and answers, here's my answer regarding checking into a country:

Quote:
And checking into and out of a country isn't that big a deal most places. Mexico has a terrible reputation, but I understand they're working to improve it. The only reason it's more difficult than checking in at an airport when you fly into a country is because you are riding in a sizeable caravan that could carry lots of smuggled goods or people, and you usually stay a lot longer than the week or two that an airborne tourist stays. I've found that when I take a book or magazine to read to fill the slow times in check-ins makes the time go faster, and sometimes speeds the officials up. Making a deposit into a French bank on the island of St. Martin, or going to their post office, took far, far longer than checking into a country. They used to play video movies for the people in line. You could watch an entire Hollywood movie in the time it took you to make your bank deposit or mail your letters! And the Frenchmen told me it was not a whole lot better on the Continent. So take people's complaints with a grain of salt. Americans just like to complain - if they aren't complaining about the country they're in, they're complaining about their own country, ad nauseum.
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Old 03-23-2008, 02:45 PM   #5
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JeanneP's Cruising Dictionary is also on the Cruising Wiki.

Cruiser's Dictionary.
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Old 03-25-2008, 10:55 PM   #6
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Keep everything secure. I have gotton cash from my credit card from banks in 2 different towns in the Abacos, Bahamas -

Man of War - Within 2 hrs everybody in town knew how much I took out.

Marsh Harbor - not as bad but those locals in the bank knew.

Don't go alone and not at peak times. Ask for bills less that $ 100. The locals sometimes have problems changing these in the smaller towns. Local areas may differ. You are usually only allowed $ 1000 USD per day. Make sure that you call your bank before you leave so they do not put a hold on your card. Some Credit Cards are better than others like Bank of America although they do charge an internation fee.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:55 PM   #7
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Make sure your credit card issuer knows your travel plans.

I sailed from Nevis up to Antigua to store my boat for the summer last year, and made a few credit card charges there. The bank denied them, thinking they were fraudulent. Took me a lot of back and forth with the vendors and the bank to get it straight. Now I email the bank if traveling, so that doesn't happen again.
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:45 AM   #8
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Make sure your credit card issuer knows your travel plans.
When you forget to do it, it's a pain, but if it protects you from fraud, it's well worth it.
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Old 03-28-2008, 12:14 PM   #9
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I realise that this topic has been base around USA banking, but for the record, I am just withdrawing my entire account from LloydsTSB in UK as they have been unable to be of any help at all:

will not accept prior notification of unusual ie bigger than normal, withdrawals - I have to try, fail, tell them of the failure, try again

will not accept e mail notification of change of country

reject use of card for cash or purchase in a new country

took six monhs to replace my expired card (fortunately I have another account with National Bank, New Zealand, who are excellent)

will not provide my new wife with a card without our going to UK, presumably to confirm she exists - she is Swiss

twice sent me letters said to enclose a requested form - but no form was enclosed

I banked with the same branch for over 40 years and have a significant savings sum with them, but neither cuts any ice

If anyone can recommend a UK bank that is able to provide a respectable service to a world cruiser, please let me know

Also, I have just tried to buy about 1000 UK pounds worth of yacht equipment from a significant dealer in Turkey. But he will not accept any form of credit or debit card - or even cash on delivery. So don't rely on cards even in a relatively advanced country.

Steelfan
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Old 03-28-2008, 12:37 PM   #10
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If anyone can recommend a UK bank that is able to provide a respectable service to a world cruiser, please let me know

Steelfan
I have a Bank of Scotland/Visa debit card which gives no probs in Oz or Chile/Argentina. Also Australian Westpac/Visa and Westpac/ Amex credit cards

I carry all 3 but only ever take one ashore just in case I get robbed ( again)

I know what you mean about UK though... my wife has been trying for six months to get ( her!!!) money out of Scottish Provident

Salud

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Old 03-28-2008, 06:37 PM   #11
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on my boat, wife and I each have a credit card through Bank of America and a checking account there. All the accounts appear together online and we can pay the credit card direct from checking. We have the account set up for autopay, so there is never a finance charge unless we take a cash advance. We try to always use an ATM for cash, but occasionally have needed to use the credit card. When we do that, we always transfer a credit for the amount of the cash advance to the credit card in advance and then don't use that credit card again until the next billing cycle to avoid revolving fees - which the bank is quite avid about imposing when they can. We have usually tried to keep a couple thousand cash aboard - finances permitting - to get out of cash flow situations that may arise.

We can attest that check in usually goes smoother when we are neatly dressed. Our travels have been in Central America where the latino culture favors long pants for the gentlemen. In Maracaibo, Venezuela, customs would not admit us to their offices in shorts - even in the company of an officer of the port.

Otherwise, check-in has usually been a task requiring an hour or two, mostly watching a port official hunt-and-peck to type a form. Cost ranged from free to $300 or so. No rhyme or reason to the fees. Easiest checkin is Cartagena since an agent is required. Pay $60 and hand over the passports and boat papers and all the required stuff comes back to you at the bar later that day. A great system - never see any officials at all.
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:35 AM   #12
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The easiest check in I have found was at Sebana Cove, Malaysia - hand the marina staff you documents, half an hour later they are returned and you are checked in. No charge. The sailing area around there is not very interesting, but otherwise it is the best marina I have found, by far. All Malaysia appears to be good at check ins, no corruption, pleasant officals.....

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Old 04-01-2008, 03:40 PM   #13
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I would like to post an experience that I had with a debit card that was stolen. While working in Phoenix, AZ, I had my wallet stolen. My debit card was used a couple of times at gas stations before I was able to contact the bank. I filed a report with the local police. The bank eventually refunded me the money taken, but it took 30 days. This was WITH a police report in the US, which will probably NOT happen in most if not all island nations. Without the report, the bank would basically have told me, "Sorry, but there is nothing we can do." So I am with Jeanne on the issue of debit cards. I would not use one personally out side the US or your home country. This includes the USVI... Just as a precaution.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:41 PM   #14
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I would like to post an experience that I had with a debit card that was stolen. While working in Phoenix, AZ, I had my wallet stolen. My debit card was used a couple of times at gas stations before I was able to contact the bank. I filed a report with the local police. The bank eventually refunded me the money taken, but it took 30 days. This was WITH a police report in the US, which will probably NOT happen in most if not all island nations. Without the report, the bank would basically have told me, "Sorry, but there is nothing we can do." So I am with Jeanne on the issue of debit cards. I would not use one personally out side the US or your home country. This includes the USVI... Just as a precaution.
A Visa debit card shouldn't even leave the country with you imo. There is simply far too much risk exposure. Many banks don't enroll debit cards in the Visa fraud protection programme, so there is not tracking of adverse spending habits on the card. For a thief, that means it's like hitting the jackpot because he can make unusually large purchases with relative impunity. Such purchases would trip the fraud prevention mechanisms of a credit card, but not a debit card if your bank doesn't specifically sign it's members up for it. People need to look @ their debit cards as a plastic check. The bank doesn't have to give you the 3 day float of a paper check, but for all intents an purposes - they treat debit transactions exactly like a check. Debit card transactions aren't subject to the "Card Not Present" banking rules, so you don't have any recourse against the "Retailers" or other business's which were used in a fraudulent transaction like you do through your bank with a credit transaction - so when the money leaves your account it's as good as gone (unless you've a VERY strong relationship with your bank, but even that doesn't get many people much in this age of cost cutting at the banks.) I preference the use of a NON-VISA logo debit card when outside the country as an emergency resource for cash access. But use Visa Credit, AMEX, Diners, and a JCB card for all general transactions.

Let your banker know you'll be traveling abroad for an extensive period and have them set you up for preauthorised wire transfers to streamline the money transfer process when it becomes necessary. If you bank at a large branch, I'd advise transferring accounts to a smaller branch of the bank so you can sit down with the bank manager and go over your needs and have a likliehood that there will be someone there who actually remembers you and your situation when the need for more personal assistance is required. Just helps you avoid that situation where the bank goes into complete protectionist mode and refuses you access to your accounts because to them something about needing to withdraw $5000 cash on your signature in Tonga doesn't sit well with them once they realise that just 4 days prior $2500 was transacted on your account in Fiji all while an impatient Yard master has your boat up on a lift and has just informed you that he doesn't accept credit cards for repair and a Cyclone is bearing down on a lightly protected lagoon! You don't have time for your bank to keep telling you "Sorry, We'll need furthur authorisation!"
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