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Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and currency

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Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and currency

Postby Myuka » Mon 08.13.2007 5:13 pm

Hi,
I'm going to be going to Dazaifu, Kyushu really soon(august 20th) and I've had several people tell me that Travelers Checks are hard to use in Japan? Does anyone know if this is true? Also are Visa Cards widely accepted? I've also heard that the Narita Airport has good exchange rates but what if you only need $100 in yen? Is is still worth it? Is there anywhere I can exchange money quickly in the US? I leave on the 20th....I was very stupid and only recently became concerned with money issues. If anyone can answer a few of these questions it would be greatly appreciated and very helpful.

Edit new question: Can you exchange travelers checks for yen at the Narita Aiprport? Or can you only do this at a bank? Also does anyone know the visa card that is available outside of Japan and accepted the most there?

Edit: Do all post office ATM's take any kind of Visa? Or at least the ones issues in the USA? Oh and thanks everyone! Your answers have been very helpful! I'll probably exchange the money/travelers checks that I need for the first few weeks at the airport and from then on just withdraw the money I require once a month from my visa at a post office. Do you think post offices are open on Saturdays or Sundays? And does this sound like a good plan?

Edit: Does it matter what type of visa card I use if I only need it to withdraw money at the post office ATM? Also do they let minors use the ATM machine? Some friends of mine went to Himeji on a school trip just two months ago and said they weren't aloud to use the ATM's. And if I were to exchange $100 at the Narita Airport does anyone have a guess of how much yen that'll get me?

Edit: Okay, I got some yen from the local airport, so I'm ganna be good for my first month. Now I just have to hope a) I can withrdaw money from my visa at the ATM, b) I have time to go to the post office once a month to make a withdraw and c) I have enough yen to take care of all of my school stuff.

Thanks everyone who popsted I really apreciate it!
Last edited by Myuka on Thu 08.16.2007 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 08.13.2007 7:42 pm

I've never heard of anyone actually attempting to make a purchase in Japan with travelers checks. But they are a good safe way to transport your dough and they can be easily converted to cash at most banks. Bring enough cash to cover your first day or two of living and traveling expenses, just in case you bump into a bank holiday or something upon arrival. Convert at home. Convert at the airport. Doesn't matter; you'll get screwed no matter what you do.

Visa cards are widely accepted. But you have to be aware that some places won't take cards issued outside Japan. Hell, some places won't even take certain Visa cards issued inside Japan, depending on the issuing agency. (Yes, I've had that happen a couple of times...."Yes, we take Visa....but not this Visa.")
Last edited by Mike Cash on Mon 08.13.2007 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby chikara » Mon 08.13.2007 7:56 pm

I have never used Traveller's Cheques in Japan but I would suspect that, as Mike-san has indicated, you won't be able to make direct purchases with them but will need to cash them at a bank or currency exchange.

I have used both Visa and MasterCard in Japan but only at larger stores and hotels. Most smaller stores and restaurants I found to be pretty much cash only.

I obtained cash using my Visa card at the ATM's in post offices. On my last trip to Japan I also used a Travelex Cash Passport which I could also use to withdraw cash at the ATM's in post offices and some other ATM's. Other than the ATM's in post offices few, if any, ATM's accept cards issued outside of Japan.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby keatonatron » Mon 08.13.2007 8:43 pm

Traveler's checks are the best way to bring money. Every bank will accept them for exchange, and they give you a better rate than cash. There are banks at the airport where you can exchange money, and the "is $100 worth it??" question is kind of silly. Every day those banks deal with Japanese people returning from abroad wanting to exchange the odd $23.75 they have left over from their travels. Even I've exchanged $20 before and I didn't get any funny looks.

I would not suggest relying on a visa card. Japan is a cash-based society, so it can be difficult to find places that accept cards, and most all American card issuers will charge you a fee for using the card abroad and/or making a purchase in a foreign currency.

I don't know what Mike meant by "you'll get screwed no matter what you do"... For small amounts, exchanging traveler's checks will get you a much better rate than any other method of exchanging money.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 08.13.2007 9:08 pm

Just to strengthen what everyone else is saying:

Whlle you can't use traveler's checks to pay for things directly (even traverler's checks in yen) they give you a better rate when changing into yen.

Bring your creditcard as a backup, but don't expect to be able to use it except at large chain stores. Any large purchase you should be able to make on a credit card, but keep in my that credit card companies charge fees for using your card to purchase things in currencies other than dollars.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 08.13.2007 9:29 pm

I meant that people are always looking for an angle on whether to exchange at home, at the airport, at a bank, or from a guy on the street corner. Unless one is exchanging gobs and gobs of cash, it is better to just go with what is convenient and safe and not worry about small differences in rates. Plus, it always seems to end up (at least in my Ziggy existence) that no matter what you do, the next place would have been better.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 08.13.2007 11:19 pm

MIke> Definately. If you're not changing 1000s of dollars, then there's really no point to trying to find the "best rate" because it's only going to differ by a few dollars.
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RE: Lots of questions about travelers checks, visa, and curr

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 08.14.2007 10:33 am

I would check the national trader average to see if you are getting a "good deal" I know the mall near where I live deals with so many foreign visitors, it is actually the best deal even compared to banks or other 'exchange' places. Of course, being the largest outlet mall in the US, it does have it's advantages to dealing with those with foreign cash..
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