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Old 3rd June 2009, 12:15 AM   #1
Lindsayk
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Default which is better for me, a credit or debit card?

I'm going to Spain in 20 days with a group from my school but I'm going to be orphaned (my parents can't afford to come!) and I'm not old enough to have my own credit card so I'm not sure about the best way to go about getting money and buying things. I'm from the US if that is important.

thanks
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Old 3rd June 2009, 07:46 AM   #2
greytop
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Hi Lidsay. If you're not old enough to get a credit card you don't have many options!
Cash is much more widely used in Spain than America but you'll have to use travellers' cheques if plastic is not an option.
Are you coming with a party of other yougsters? If so, what are they doing?
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Old 3rd June 2009, 09:45 AM   #3
dimonió
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Hi Lindsay.

Have you thought about one of the prepay cards you can get nowadays ?
Paypal have a Visa prepaid card which you can use for the internet or in the High Street. You put money on it and can't spend past the amount in the account. Less chance of credit card fraud.

"You don’t need a bank account to get a PayPal Top Up Card – so it’s great for young people....Rather than carrying cash around, the Top Up Card offers a safer payment method which you can use both at home and abroad."

Here's the link to the website:

https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/we...UCHome-outside

This is the UK version, but I'm sure they will have one in the States as well.

Que tu disfrutes de tu tiempo en este lado del charco !

Last edited by dimonió; 3rd June 2009 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 11:28 PM   #4
Lindsayk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greytop View Post
Hi Lidsay. If you're not old enough to get a credit card you don't have many options!
I can't get my own credit card but I've read that I can be added to theirs.
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Old 4th June 2009, 01:15 AM   #5
Beckett
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Lindsay,
How many weeks will you be in Spain?

Outside of the touristy areas and large stores, cash is king. Spain isn't as much of a credit card culture as the U.S., so don't count on using plastic for all your transactions.

I would recommend having a Visa check card (essentially a debit card). If you get added to your parents' credit card or debit card account, obviously make sure that you get a card that has YOUR name on it, not your mom or dad's name on it. In Spain you will be asked to show photo ID when using a credit or debit card. That means you will have to show your American passport. Some people say that you can carry around a photocopy of your passport but in some stores in Spain the clerks may not accept the photocopy and require you to present the real passport. Also, if the full name on the debit card/credit card is different from the name on the ID, you won't be able to buy anything, so that's why it's important to get a card with your name on it.

Here's what I would recommend to you:

1). Get a Visa check debit card that is part of the PLUS or CIRRUS bank network. (Just check the back of your card to see if you see PLUS or CIRRUS on it or call your bank and ask.)

2). Either you or your parents should call the bank that has issued the card to notify them that you will be traveling in Spain and to not block the card while you are overseas. If you don't do this before you leave the U.S., you could be in for a rude surprise when you try to use the card or withdraw money from a European ATM. The reason for this is because your usage in Spain may trigger an alert within your bank account as possible fraud since there will be no prior pattern of usage in Spain. It's a good idea to let the bank know before you leave the U.S. what your travel plans are so that they don't automatically decline incoming charges or ATM withdrawals coming from Spain.

3). Get the bank's phone number you can call collect from overseas. That will come in handy if, God forbid, the card gets lost or stolen or if the bank blocks you from using the card in Spain.

4). When you get to Spain, go to an ATM and withdraw a small amount of cash that you feel comfortable carrying and that will cover your basic expenses during your first few days. For example 100 euros or less. (With the current exchange rate, 100 euros is $141.)

Be aware that each time you use an ATM in Spain, your American bank is going to charge you a currency exchange fee AND an ATM fee, so keep your ATM visits to a minimum. I would not recommend arriving in Spain with U.S. dollars because you're going to get gouged when you go to a currency exchange kiosk to convert the $$$ into €€€. You'll get a better exchange rate withdrawing the money from a ATM.

Have a clear budget in your head and stick to it. If you're not sure how much money you should budget, ask the group leader of your trip how much cash they recommend you having per day.

Save your Visa check card/credit card for emergencies and purchases over 50 euros. That way you don't have to constantly have to carry your passport with you and it will help you avoid shopping temptation.

Good luck and have fun!

Last edited by Beckett; 4th June 2009 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 10th June 2009, 11:26 PM   #6
betty.ike
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Default Just got back from 3 weeks in España

Hi Lindsay,

Listen to Beckett. Lots of good info.
  • Are you old enough to have an ATM card already? You may be able to use that with no problem and not need a debit/credit card
I used my US ATM card issued from a credit union and had no problems.
Well, just 1. Like Beckett said, make sure you notify them that you will be using the card out of the country. I used my card 6 times the first 2 weeks with no problem. Then, on a Sat. I tried again and it wouldn't go through. Had to wait until Monday at 8:30 US time to call the US and find out that they thought the activity looked suspicious and they suspended the account. Fortunately it only took about 5 minutes to fix at that time. I used a visa to buy things in the meantime. So you may want both.

I will warn you that different banks charge different fees or "commissions" and give differing exchange rates. I actually kept looking for ones that didn't charge any fees (Banco Popular) as opposed to those that had a poor exchange rate AND a 2.5% commission. I actually had to start my transactions and then cancelled once I saw the rate on the screen.

You may feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of cash, but I think it's better to take as much out as you can so you don't keep getting charged for a lot ow small withdrawals. Wear a money belt that hangs from your neck that you can tuck inside your clothes. OR one that you can tuck inside your waistband. NOT a fanny pack. (It's summertime and I realize you may not wear clothes that will hide the neck belt.)

Also, get a small amount of euros before you go so you won't have to worry about etting money right away and will have it. If your parents are members of AAA they can get $100 worth of euros at the Triple A office for a reasonable price and no commission. Regular banks are also an option.

Have fun and write back if you have any more questions.
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Old 11th June 2009, 09:11 AM   #7
Juanjo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindsayk View Post
I'm going to Spain in 20 days with a group from my school but I'm going to be orphaned (my parents can't afford to come!) and I'm not old enough to have my own credit card so I'm not sure about the best way to go about getting money and buying things. I'm from the US if that is important.

thanks
Take great care when using street ATMs in major cities, especially in the tourist centres of Madrid (Gran Via, Sol, Plaza Mayor etc). There has been a major growth in "distraction theft" over the last couple of years, perpetrated often by young immigrant children.

This is the way it works. You enter your PIN number into the ATM; while you are waiting for your money to appear, you will be distracted by somebody, often a young girl showing you a baby, apparently begging.

While you are looking at the girl/baby, an accomplice (often another child) will snatch the money as it comes out of the ATM and run off down a side street or the Metro so you have no chance of catching him/her. Often they have passed the money to another party during the escape so even if they are caught there is no evidence. Their timing is immaculate.

Madrid police are so fed up with the practice (they often arrest and have to release the same children several times a week) that all you get when reporting the theft is a shrug of the shoulders and eventually a report number for your insurance claim.

¡Ojo!
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Old 11th June 2009, 11:36 AM   #8
Lindsayk
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thanks for all the advice. I just got a visa check(debit) card through my bank and it seems like that should work fine.
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Old 11th June 2009, 04:32 PM   #9
Andy.G.
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I have just come back from spain (I found it really expensive) and each time we used our card at the atm we were charged 4 euros per transaction or 2.5 per cent commison.
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Old 12th June 2009, 09:12 AM   #10
Pippa
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Well, the pound was 1.40 euros in September 2007, now is 1.10, so you are going to notice the difference.
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