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ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

Washington DC...
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ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

Hello,

Our trip is 19 days away and we are so excited! We are also getting into the nitty gritty now of planning and had some questions hopefully you can help us with:

1. Our preference is to carry as little cash as possible and use a credit card (Mastercard, American Express) so we are less crushed if we get pickpocketed. Besides street markets and taxis, of course, is plastic widely accepted? Is there generally a charge minimum? Is AMEX feasible as the only card we carry daily or do many stores not accept it?

2. How widely available are ATMs? (We use Capital One bank which has a pretty good network). Is cloning still a problem and are there any machines we should avoid?

3. We are also going to Atilan (day trip), Ixmiche (day trip), and Monterrico (overnight). Should we expect no ATM/ credit cards in those places and carry cash only, or are they available?

4. We are foreign service, speak some Spanish, and are reasonably savvy, but are traveling as a group of 7 this time with 4, 7, and 12 year old kids so will definitely stand out as gringos. Can someone who is on the ground give me a fair sense of risk? Say on a scale of 1-10...10 being Kabul, 1 being Cedar Rapids. We are staying at Soleil in a condo, and are using viaventure for transport, so I don't see us staying out till 2AM or riding chicken buses, but there are still enough stories of being robbed at gunpoint out there that I'm a bit concerned.

Thanks so much!

Essen, Germany
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31. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

... I'm coming back to Antigua this weekend for two weeks, so I'll be needing to take cash regularly. Just a question : how can you get money from a bank teller ? Can you just go inside a bank and with a credit card and passport and they give you the amount that you want ? Could someone please explain this to me ? I thought only cash withdrwls at the ATMs were possible. If there is a safer way, I'm open for any suggestions...

Houston, TX
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32 posts
41 reviews
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32. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

I have the same question as Jeannine2708. Are you all referring to a credit card AND ATM card?

Phoenix, Arizona
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33. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

this reply is a little late, but got back from antigua last month and we took cash & then changed it at the citibank - super easy and fast with a better rate than ordering quetzales or getting them at the airport -

really if you leave the airport for your hotel then walk to citibank & then put your cash in the safe at the hotel - you are only carrying a large amount for a short period of time!

we found that a lot of places we went did not take cards - maybe we just shop off the beaten path :)

Columbia, South...
5 posts
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34. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

what does anyone think about bringing travelers checks for the safety issue/peace of mind

Columbia, South...
5 posts
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35. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

what does anyone think about using travelers checks instead of cash

Phoenix, Arizona
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36. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

if you exchange at the bank - theyll work just fine - i think they charge a fee for that...

Lisbon, Portugal
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37. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

hi!

I m a portuguese guide in Central america, and got cloned, as 7 travellers that came with me (in 2 different ocasions with 6 months in between) now we don t use ATMs in guatemala just bring dolars and change.

something important - they only start taking the money from your banck account some months later - 4 / 5 months. and from Colombia or Peru they did to us.

we used the Bac ATM with security guard and lot s of signs to "protect" you from cloning.

at the first time it hapened i spoke with them, and 6 months it hapened the same. It only happens to foreigners, it looks it s a scheme with people form the banck involved.

cheers and just avoid using it!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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38. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

My vacation account was cleaned out in December 2010 ($1400). The majority of the money was taken out in December and it was withdrawn by someone in Bogota, Columbia (3 withdrawals) and finally in Antigua.

I believe that my card was copied in Antigua in October and that the thieves periodically checked the balance on the account as the first withdrawal was 2 hours after I deposited money here in the US.

Luckily my bank did replace the money but their advice was to open an account, use it down there if needed and then withdraw the money when you return.Have your bank monitor the account for activity and close the account if there has been any.

Now I just carry Euro for emergencies-the E 50 notes are worth about 65-70 dollars and are easy to carry. You could also have someone in the US send you money by moneygram via Walmart if you need extra cash.

portland, or
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39. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

Ok, so we can either carry dollars to change ( obviously hidden) and maybe some travellers checks for back up, and avoid atm in antigua. But in other parts of guatemala, any problems there? Obviously being careful, guarded atm s, not rented ones, etc

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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40. Re: ATM, Credit Card usage, and safety in Antigua

That's what worked for me! Have a great trip!