Author Topic: Money and Banks  (Read 10700 times)

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Offline heathermilliken

Money and Banks
« on: October 12, 2004, 01:37:06 am »
My boyfriend and I are riding the TransAm from West to East, starting May 2005.  We are unsure as to how to manage our funds?!  Should we open an account from NZ in the States, and if so, do they provide cashflow (eftpos) cards for easy access?  If so, are there facilities all the way across to access your money - or do you need cash for remote parts of the trip?  We would prefer to stay away from travellers cheques if possible as they are just as much a liability as cash.  It may be easier to set up the bank account once arriving in the States?  Is any bank better than another? Any suggestions greatly appreciated!  Cheers, Heather

Offline brad

Money and Banks
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2004, 06:32:12 am »
i think the answer depends on what sort of banking services does your NZ bank provide do you have access to cash through an atm card and do you carry a credit card? most american businesses now accept atm cards right in the store that you can use like a credit card (debit card). if you have these items then you can easily draw money from any atm on your NZ bank or charge most of your large expenses and just pay it off when you return home. i do agree that travelers checks are a bad idea.

i am an american living in germany and this is what i do most of the time as i have not opened a germany bank account and i know for a fact that the US is much more credit and debit card friendly than germany!

hope this helps.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ~James Michener

Offline JayH

Money and Banks
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2004, 11:36:55 am »
Also, check to see what "network" your bank in NZ uses for the ATM, In the US, there are ATM (aka bank machines, money access centers, etc) where you can get US currency almost everywhere. Each of these ATMs are in a network and if your bank in NZ is part of the network, then you can use your ATM card there.  For the most part, it is good, although it's good to have a backup, like a credit card, debit card, SOMETIMEs, some ATMs might not accept it even if it is supoosedly supported. I've had friends who have had problems in foreign countries.   Anyway, I did this in France when I was watching the Tour last year, I used my ATM in any of the banks that used the same ATM network I have here.   The ATMs will typically show a sign or decal which networks it supports. For the most part now, it's not that much a problem though, ATMs are now very widespread!

Jay


Offline DaveB

Money and Banks
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2004, 02:22:53 pm »
ATM's are everywhere in the US, even in the smallest towns, so if you have a valid card you should have no problems.  Most will charge a fee if you are out of your banks "system" but they will work.  

Check with your NZ bank to see if they are part of any of the networks here in the US and if your NZ bank card will work here. Perhaps your bank has a US affiliate or a working arrangement with a US bank.

Credit cards (Visa and Mastecard) work worldwide and are acepted in almost all hotels and most restaurants, shops, etc. particularly the chains and in larger towns and cities.  However, many small town local restaurants and shops here don't take credit cards so you will need some cash.  Use your credit card whenever possible as you will get the most favorable exchange rate.


Offline scott.laughlin

Money and Banks
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2004, 08:33:51 pm »
Hi,

I ran across a bank in Green River, Utah that was not friendly toward my West Coast bank.  Be sure you start looking befo9re your funds are gone.  I didn't and it got ugly before it got better.

Scott.laughlin@att.net


Offline Peaks

Money and Banks
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2004, 09:03:59 pm »
I'll keep it real short and easy.

We used ATM's and never had a problem.  But, watch the fees.  Typically got hit for a total of about $4.00 everytime I used it.  

For motels, we used credit cards.  

When I made a withdrawal in Canada, there was an extra charge (about $8 or $9 total).  So, I'd suggest that you ask your bank in NZ if they are on one of the major networks, such as Cirrus.  Then, ask them what are the fees going to be for using it in the USA.  It might be cheaper to open an account when your arrive in the USA.  


Offline DaveB

Money and Banks
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2004, 10:05:24 pm »
I ran across a bank in Green River, Utah that was not friendly toward my West Coast bank.

Do you mean they wouldn't let you use your ATM card or wouldn't cash an out-of-state check?  If the later, that's not surprising as cashing a check by an unknown person on an unfamiliar bank is always difficult.  If they wouldn't accept your ATM card, that's unusual.  

BTW, I was in Green River, UT last month.  Not real big but the only town for almost 100 miles in any direction!


Offline scott.laughlin

Money and Banks
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2004, 08:03:13 pm »
Green River and the ATM..

This was in 2001, I think.  The bank there was Key Bank, our account was at First Interstate (now Wells Fargo) in Eugene, Oregon.  For some reason the ATM would not read the ATM card.  Our car was broken down and we were starting to owe people--cafe, motel, mechanic.  We finally got money wired from our bank.  If you should have to do this, the place holding your money identifies you by the amount, not your name.  So be certain you consider any transfer fees and such, or the person doing the calling for you will be looking for the wrong amount of money...like our's.  We ordered $400 and forgot to deduct the $30 wire fee.

Yes, the young lady waiting tables in the cafe said it was 102 miles to the nearest movie.

But, it's such experiences that make good subjects around the fireplace when it's too cold to pedal a bike.

Scott


Offline heathermilliken

Money and Banks
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2004, 03:57:09 am »
Thanks for all the awesome replies. . . .i will now investigate via banks here in NZ and check for alliances with US banks.  

The Visa idea is good and will carry that for back up, but don't want to be hit with exchange rate curbing.

We are banking on around $40 US each day per person - tenting and supermarket shopping most of the time - hopefully thats pretty close?



Offline valygrl

Money and Banks
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2004, 07:36:32 pm »
Hi Heather,

I should think that $40/person/day is more than enough - camping should be $8-$25 per day per site.  I found the food to be a bit more expensive in NZ, but the lodging a bit less, as compared to the US.  Also, we pretty much don't have backpackers/hostels the way you do.

Major difference between camping in NZ and in the US, is that in the US they charge per site not per person, and the camp grounds do not have a kitchen, like your lovely holiday parks do.  If you are planning to cook, you will need to bring a stove.  

You will need to carry some cash, if only because the campgrounds in national/state forests and parks are often self-registration - no one on site, you put cash in an envelope.

Random info...
Not every small town has an ATM (cash machine).  Many gas stations do have ATMs.  Most bigger supermarkets will do "cash back" with purchase, this is a good way to avoid out-of-network ATM surcharges.  Big chain supermarkets have "club cards" that give you a discount on selected on-sale items - you can just tell the cashier that you are travelling through and can you borrow their card, to get the savings.

If you are a AA member in NZ, the AAA here should give you free maps (I did it the other way around, so check to make sure it goes both ways).  The AAA maps are a really useful supplement to the A.C. maps, especially if you want to wander off-route in a city.  THey also have tour books and hotel books that give you locations and rate info about lodging.

I toured NZ for 7 weeks last austral summer, it was fabulous.  Hope you folks have a great time here.

Oh the thing that really sucks about the USA:  There is no Hokey Pokey.

Anna


Offline Peaks

Money and Banks
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2004, 09:12:33 pm »
For what it's worth,  my daughter and I averaged about $50 per day for two of us.  Campgrounds cost between free to $34 per site, for an average of $12.30 per night per site.  When we stayed in a hotel, the average cost was $62 per night for two of us.  We spent about $18 per day for groceries for two of us.  Prepared meals (mostly dinners)cost about $21.00 average for two of us.

Now, just a word of caution, when I hiked the AT I also tried to keep track of my costs.  I discovered that I spent much less than the average thru-hiker.  So, on that basis, your budget of $40 per day per person may not be that far off from reality.  

This message was edited by Peaks on 10-14-04 @ 5:15 PM

Offline JayH

Money and Banks
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2004, 11:08:04 pm »
If you were also stealth camping, it's cheaper.  

If you are planning on doing a lot of camping in campgrounds, it might be worth it for you to join AAA, which is the American Auto. Assoc.  Yeah, it sounds silly for a NZ'er to join the AAA but I don't think the membership is too much and you do get a small discount at many car camping places.   Alternatively, you can always ask for a "bike discount". When I was touring, sometimes we would meet some real friendly campsite owners who would give us discounts just because we were on a bike.  

Jay


Offline scott.laughlin

Money and Banks
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2004, 03:34:21 am »
One more thing.  Try to get your cash while the bank is open.  I once had a card not returned.  Another time the ATM was 20 minutes producing $100.  If it's a weekend or after hours, well....

Scott


Offline driftlessregion

Money and Banks
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2004, 10:11:57 pm »
On my Northern Tier tour this summer I used travelers checks as well as credit cards, but no ATMs. I had great luck with travelers checks EXCEPT at banks and credit unions. NONE would cash them. Every small cafe, grocery store and bar would eagerly cash them, even the $100 denominations.  In Canada I used credit card exclusively so they could determine the exchange rate.


Offline judyrans

Money and Banks
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2004, 08:09:26 am »
I took a credit card, cash, and travellers' checks ($50 and $20) on my cross country trip last summer, and tried to spread costs between them. Early in the trip someone told me that some businesses weren't accepting travellers' checks due to counterfeiting. I didn't have any problems cashing travellers' checks. Sometimes they didn't even ask for ID.

On the other hand, the grocery store at home, where I spend thousands of dollars a year, always asks for ID when I cash a left over $20 travellers check.