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  Topic Review (Newest First)
10-17-2013 01:11 PM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

There's no doubt banks are adept at making profits, which is what they are after all chartered to do. Onceuponatime there were "banks" and "savings & loans" and the two ran differently, but that difference was abolished decades ago.
Some of the credit card companies like Amex*, will ding the merchant for 3% and a 30-day float on their funds, and between those two profits they can make enough to fully absorb any currency conversion fee. Or, they may have a system set up where they can internally transfer funds and do that for "zero" real effective cost.
I don't ask how the magic works, and I wouldn't sleep with any of them, but sometimes, some rare times, if you are careful about it you can get a much better deal with one than with another. Last time I used Amex, instead of paying a merchant with discounted dollars, there were zero fees charged to me, and the exchange I was given was the official government rate. Sure, you can often do 10-15% better than that--but not without chasing down a black market and worrying about other problems.

*Amex now issues some credit cards, but they used to be adamant about the fact that a full Amex card was not and is not a credit card, it was due and payable in full every time.
Sometimes, they count on customers coming onboard because of a special, and like grocery stores they DO run loss-leaders. The trick is, buy the loss leader and don't fall for the traps.
10-17-2013 07:34 AM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Check your cards. I think Discover, Capital One, and Amex all currently offer at least some cards with no penalty for foreign exchange......
Many customers can be victims of their own emotions and many of these card companies know it. Here's the rub. If a card company actually gives you the best commercial exchange rate, they are probably losing money on the exchange. Despite the fees paid between correspondents to settle the exchange, they obviously have systems and accountants that are paid to get this done for you.

Some will, in fact, give you the best commercial exchange rate, but charge a fee each time for their effort. That fee really ticks some customers off.

Others will claim they have no fee. However, they bury it into the exchange rate you actually get. With it buried, its actually very easy for them to get more than the flat fee others charge. Exchange rates change so often and are so variable from the counter at the airport, to a local bank to an ATM, you would have to be a pretty sophisticated customer to know what they altered their real exchange rate by.

Ironically, the fee is usually much more transparent.

However, the real killers will charge the fee and mess with the exchange rate. If it has a "big bank" logo on it, I would be suspicious. Maybe that's just me.
10-16-2013 09:24 PM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

I am not a charter but a Caribbean liveaboard.

Most credit cards will work most of the time. BUT I always keep enough cash to get buy for a week or two. EG cards have been refused all over Grenada recently due to some banking connectivity problem/

I always have at least two cards from different banks one a Visa one Mastercard. Tell/warn your bank you are going to the BVIs.

Some people will leave a wallet containing about 20$ in 1 s bills plus some useless cards in a prominent place.

If you are already down there try to get to Trellis Bay for this Fridays full moon party.
10-16-2013 07:42 PM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

Check your cards. I think Discover, Capital One, and Amex all currently offer at least some cards with no penalty for foreign exchange, they will convert every transaction at the official rate at the end of day (check on whether it is eod or end of cycle). If there are no penalties for foreign currency, and you aren't already a customer, tell them you've got a trip, a deadline, and if they can expedite things you'll open an account. And make sure that if it needs a different PIN, etc. to be used there, that they take care of that as well. (Sometimes you "must" have a 4-digit pin, sometimes 6, ask ahead.)

Cash is always good but plastic often safer.
10-16-2013 09:05 AM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

Originally Posted by nodders View Post
We managed on around $60 per day...but ran a bit short towards the end.
Nodders, was that $60 a day per person?
10-15-2013 04:11 PM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Pre-call to cc company is critical! Hard to reach them once you're there. Ask me how I know.
Take note and reread above. I see many people having issues the first time they try and run a transaction. A phone call before heading down here is time well spent.
10-15-2013 03:40 PM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

We managed on around $60 per day...but ran a bit short towards the end. We did use credit cards for restaurants and a car rental (to get to the trail going up Virgin gorda). Mooring balls were $30 per night I believe, but its the ice that will get you - $7 per bag!

Oh, if you get some charcoal briquets for the trip - don't get the self igniting ones - they don't work. had to buy some starter from one of the supply boats that coome around at probably double the price.
10-15-2013 10:06 AM
Going to BVI! Bring cash?

Pre-call to cc company is critical! Hard to reach them once you're there. Ask me how I know.
10-15-2013 09:25 AM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

There have been a number of boat breakins in the BVI of late, both at anchor and at the docks of the charter companies. Recently 3 were caught and arrested (Moorings docks) so it might be a bit better. But the recommendation is to keep valuables, particularly those easily converted to cash such as phones, iPads, etc.) hidden and to lock the boat when not aboard.

There are cash machines dispersed around the islands - several in Road Town, one at Nanny Cay and Soper's Hole and the airport (Trellis Bay) and 2 or 3 in Spanish Town. I'm fairly certain the one in Cane Garden Bay is working again. None on Jost or Anegada as far as I know. Often the machines at Nanny Cay and Soper's are empty or out-of-commission, so keep a bit of buffer amount of cash. Most places one can reach from a boat accept credit cards. Sometimes the phone connections don't work and the places don't want to use their old-fashioned mechanical imprint machines so you might still have to pay cash despite being in a place that accepts cards.
My CC company considers the BVI to be "foreign" and I get charged a surcharge when I use the card there; and it is best to give the CC company a heads-up travel advisory prior to travelling , particularly if you don't travel overseas much, in order to prevent their fraud-detection algorithms to kick in and temporarily block your card.
10-15-2013 09:00 AM
Re: Going to BVI! Bring cash?

I've not heard of boat break-ins, but I always separate and hide my cash, so they are less likely to find it all. Not that we bring too much, but we do take moorings nearly everyday. Although, the ones you go to shore to pay for can often be done with a card.

However, things like to stop working in the islands, so I bring a little more cash than I think I will need. It always works.
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