How to Not Get F*$Ked by your Bank While Traveling

I just helped out a random guy from the UK that posted something on facebook saying his ATM card got eaten and he was out of cash.  A ton of people replied with "solutions" that weren't immediately helpful for someone in a bad situation.  The problem is, when someone is down, it's easier to kick them than to help them up...banks do this all of the time. I've only ever had to pay bank fees when I was broke and my balance was low.

I've been in a tough situation exactly like this when I lost my ATM card while traveling here in Chiang Mai two years ago and I had to survive on 700 baht which is $21US for a week which isn't impossible in Thailand but not very nice either. Here is what happened with Paul from the UK and how you guys reading this can prevent it for yourself.

1. Have a backup ATM card

Most banks won't let you have two ATM cards but will let you have one for your checking and another for your savings. For me I just have multiple accounts.

I have 2 checking accounts with Chase, and 2 with Charles Schwab.

Traveler Tip: Schwab and Fidelity both have ATM cards that refund 100% of ATM fees worldwide, making it free to withdraw cash!

2. Get a Local Bank Account

Since I live in Chiang Mai, I went through the process of getting a local Bangkok Bank ATM card.
They have a branch in New York so it's easy to transfer money from my U.S. accounts into it.

Traveler Tip:  By having a Bangkok Bank ATM card, I pay 0 fees to withdraw money, and since I leave my U.S. cards at home, if I ever lose my local card, I can just walk into a branch and get a new one the same day.

3. Have a Financial Buffer

The biggest problem with having just enough savings or making just enough money is not having a buffer when things f&*# up.  This is why I spend so much time and effort building multiple streams of online income so I always have money coming in faster than I can spend it.

4. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help

Two years ago when I was out of money and was waiting on my new ATM card to arrive I was too embarrassed to tell anyone or to ask for help. To make it worse, since my friends didn't know I was on an extremely tight budget, when the bill came and my friend only had a 1,000 baht note, he told me to just pay for his 60 baht meal and he'll pay me back for it.

The problem is, he completely forgot about it, as to him $2US was nothing but to me at that time, it was a half a day's worth of food.

5. Watch out for Fees

When you're on a budget $15 hurts! In this bank statement, I had dropped below my minimum and was charged $15 by my bank. It's basically a penalty for being poor.

When using an ATM always choose "REFUSE CONVERSION" as many ATMs worldwide, especially EURONET ones will give you such a terrible conversion rate, that you end up paying 10% more. 

What Happened with Paul?

I messaged him on facebook and told him I'd be happy to shout him the 5,000 baht. I've never met him before and we don't have any close mutual friends on facebook.

But sometimes when others are down, just help them out.  

Believe in Good People:

I use common sense, but I also believe that most people are good. I met with Paul and handed him 5,000 baht.  Someone who I've never met and was from the "internet" but he was a genuine guy, offered to use some of that 5,000 baht to buy me a coffee and offered to give me an extra 500 for my trouble.

There are scammers in the world, but in reality, most people are good.  Meeting Paul in person, I could tell he was a genuine guy in a tough situation.  Unfortunately the people on the internet that are not the good people are usually the ones that scream "this is a scam" and never do their part in helping society or others in need.

Believe in Karma:

Exactly 11 minutes after I handed this stranger "Paul" 5,000 baht (which is $155.00) I received an email letting me know that I just made $511.64 from Shopify, which is one of the products that I promote through Affiliate Marketing

I'm willing to wager that $511 that none of the guys who refused to help out someone in need and instead called him a scammer or kicked him while he was down made anywhere close to that during that same hour.

I wish Paul the best of luck, and I sincerely hope that this post helps people first not get into bad situations in the first place, and second, see the good in people and be willing to help out if it happens.

Warm Regards,


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  1. What ever happened? Was it a scam or did Paul pay you back? Just curious

    1. He paid me back in full and even offered to treat me to a cup of coffee for the trouble. =)


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