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Gentleman.Jack.Darby

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  1. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    ATM limit 10k per withdrawal?? Alternatives?

    I looked into American Express travelers checks awhile back and they would be useful in only the worst emergency situations. In my part of the U.S., one can only get them at certain banks and then only at certain lbranches and most banks charge a fee to get them, usually 1 or 2% of the value. Some credit unions offer them at no charge. A major problem with getting them is that's it's not easy to get them in high denominations - that's important because when cashing them abroad, some foreign banks charge a fee, usually the same amount as an ATM withdrawl, for EACH check; in the Philippines, that's PHP 250 (USD 5) and in Thailand THB 200 (6.50) It's become much more difficult to find places abroad to cash them; usually it's only the bigger banks, major hotels, and some currency exchanges in the largest cities. And, worst of all, the exchange rates are very poor - not competitive with the exchange rates given by the major credit card networks such as VISA and Mastercard. Probably only worth carrying for the most paranoid traveler who dwells on worst case disaster scenarios - a better option for most (less paranoid) folks would be a pre-paid debit card such as the ones offered by some federal credit unions or, for those who need high balances from a non-U.S. issuer and are willing to pay for it, the T-24 Black card. Probably never run into a problem with that one, but it isn't inexpensive.
  2. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    ATM limit 10k per withdrawal?? Alternatives?

    Without knowing more details about your card issuer's fee structure for foreign transactions and where you're located, my suggestion would be to look at Moneygram. Moneygram offers USD transfers (receive USD in the PI) from the U.S. to the PI that can be picked up at a Moneygram location and you could do the forex transaction locally to get a good rate USD 1,000 is within Moneygram's transfer limit and the fee is USD 10 if using a credit or debit card online or USD 20 if someone in the U.S. goes to a Moneygram location. If a credit or debit card is used, the card issuer will likely tack on additional fees - the worst case would be to use a credit card since the issuer will tack on a cash advance fee and an exorbitent interest rate with interest accruing from completion of the transaction. Any of the transfer services, including Moneygram and especially Western Union, will give a poor forex rate in addition to their transfer fees - most folks completely ignore the poor exchange rate and focus only on the service fee amount, which is usually a 'teaser' rate.
  3. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    USD or PHP for credit card purchases

    It depends on the card issuer - some do show it
  4. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    USD or PHP for credit card purchases

    USAA and Fidelity pass on the VISA network fee, which is 1%
  5. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    USD or PHP for credit card purchases

    In the OP's case, he wouldn't have been offered the option to be charged in USD (Dynamic Currency Conversion) unless his card was a card issued outside the Philippines. 'Dynamic Currency Conversion'; ie; charging one's card in the home country currency instead of the local currency is a gimmick used by merchants and their local bank to make a little extra from the inexperienced traveler who believes that he needs to worry about currency fluctuations and wants to keep things simple by trying to 'think' in his home currency to determine if a local good or service is 'worth it'. The only situation, and this is purely a hypothetical, in which dynamic currency conversion could benefit a traveler is if the local currency was appreciating so fast against the traveler's home currency that the slight delay between the time the traveler makes the purchase and the time the transaction is settled by his card issuer is enough to offset the additional cost of the dynamic currency conversion. Recently, PHP has been weakening against USD, so a purchase made in PHP today (purchase date) will likely cost less, by the equivalent of an insignificant rounding error, in a couple of days when the card issuers posts (settles) the purchase to the traveler's account. If his card was issued by a Philippines bank, it would be 'denominated' in PHP and no conversion would be necessary. As an aside, even though the OP's card was issued outside the PI, the resort would have no worries about currency fluctuation since the exchange rate would be determined by the card network, VISA in this case, and the transaction 'settled', ie; PHP deposited into their local bank account very quickly - the resort would never actually hold USD nor would they need to.
  6. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    USD or PHP for credit card purchases

    The base for the additional 4.5% is the exchange rate set by the card network to which one's card 'belongs', such as VISA or Mastercard. One's card issuer, merchant, 'foreign' local bank, etc. have no power to set the actual exchange rate for credit and debit card transaction They do have the power to try and trick folks by tacking on additional fees, which is what dynamic currency conversion is, which a lot of folks mistake as part of the exchange rate but in reality can be avoided with a bit of effort.
  7. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    USD or PHP for credit card purchases

    When making a credit or debit card purchase in a country other than the country in which a card was issued, ALWAYS ensure that the charge is made in the local currency, in this case PHP, and NEVER in the currency of one's home country. When a merchant offers to process a purchase in one's 'home' currency, in this case USD, the merchant is offering 'dynamic currency conversion' and dynamic currency conversion rates are NEVER as good as the foreign currency conversion rates offered by the network to which one's card 'belongs', in this case the VISA network. The reason a merchant offers dynamic currency conversion is because both the merchant and the merchant's local bank that processes their credit and debit card purchases make more money from it; the card network to which one's card belongs earns their fee no matter which way the transaction is processed. Foreign currency conversion rates are ALWAYS set by the network to which one's card belongs, such as VISA, Mastercard, or American Express and not by the other entities involved in the purchase or ATM withdrawl transaction. In general, VISA and Mastercard forex rates on any given day are very, very, close and American Express rates are almost always the least favorable. Both VISA and Mastercard have online converters that are publicly available so one can check the exchange rates for one's transaction if one wishes - One thing to keep in mind, and both networks make this clear on their converters, is that the date of a transaction may not necessarily be the same date that the transaction is processed by one's card issuer, but normally the rates don't change THAT much from day-to-day. The ways that the entities involved in a credit or debit card purchase or an ATM withdrawl earn their money are: The merchant that sold the goods earn their revenue from the purchase price less a percentage withheld by the local bank that processes their card transactions - that's why it's not uncommon to see merchants 'tack on' an additional percentage or set a minimum purchase amount for a card transaction. This is technically not allowed by the card network agreements, but merchants do it anyway. In some cases, as was done in the U.S. in years gone by, some merchants offer a discount for cash. The local bank that processes merchants' card purchases earn a percentage of each transaction which they withhold from the amount deposited in the merchant's local bank account. The local bank that offers ATM withdrawl services to 'foreign' debit cardholders charge an outright fee - in the PI, it's PHP 250 The network to which one's card belongs, such as VISA or Matercard, charge a 1% 'network fee' which is passed on to the card issuer and ultimately to the cardholder - the only card issuer of which I'm aware that does not pass on the fee to it's cardholders is Charles Schwab, which 'eats' the fee for it's brokerage account holders who have a debit card for their 'High Yield Investor Checking Account'. Charles Schwab also rebates all ATM fees, including fees for non-U.S. ATM withdrawls, each month to their debit card users. Most card issuers also charge a 'foreign exchange conversion fee' which usually runs from 1 - 3% and some issuers include the card network fee in this amount while other issuers break it out. It's not that difficult to find card issuers that don't charge a 'foreign conversion fee' - 'No foreign transaction fee' is a major appeal of Capital One cards, but there are other notable exceptions, such as Chase with their Amazon VISA card and several other cards, the Charles Schwab debit card, and issuers such as USAA and federal credit unions such as Alliant. Some bank issuers will also charge a 'foreign transaction fee' for situations in which their card is used outside the country of issue but in the same currency as the country of issue or simply because a card is used outside the country of issue even when a 'foreign exchange conversion fee' is assessed. At the end of the day, speaking solely about a foreign exchange rates, it's almost impossible to beat the rates given by the major credit card networks since they are major players in the forex markets. The misunderstanding comes in when folks mistake the fees charged by their card issuer as a component of the foreign exchange rate - it isn't. In most cases those fees can be minimized or, if one sets up an account with Charles Schwab, eliminated outright or reimbursed.
  8. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Budget help

    The only entity of which I'm aware that can spend beyond its means for a significant amount of time, probably forever, is the U.S. government. I advocate budgeting as a way for folks to avoid the pain, misery, and embarrassment that tends to comes along when the last lender finally says 'NO'. I've run across a lot of folks with plenty of resources who always seem to be able to find something on which to spend their proverbial 'last dollar' and then some.
  9. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Budget help

    I look at it from the point of view that everyone has a budget with the exception of folks like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett since, whether they admit it or not and like it or not, most folks' assets, income, and most importantly, cash flow is limited and everyone must spend to live I think the big problem most people have with budgets is that they don't realize that budgets are not cast in stone and that they are guidelines that can and should be changed when one's situation changes. It's much easier to start with a best-guess budget that will disclose major shortcomings in assets & liabilities and income & expenses and refine it through experience rather than be smacked in the head when one's ends don't meet or a major expense, such as retirement, arrives. Generally not necessary to budget down to the last dollar or peso. And most budgeting software that I've seen takes what, in most people's circumstances, should be a relatively easy exercise and turns it into something likely not to get done by making the process itself complex, forcing people to learn what is usually a complex and counter-intuitive piece of software, and usually making them pay for the privilege. Nothing wrong with making one's budget as simple as required by using a spreadsheet or plain-old pencil-and-paper; probably don't even need a calculator for the parts that matter most.
  10. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    Because of the way Bitcoin is designed, with no central authority to regulate it or control it, the number of Bitcoins that can be 'mined' or created mathematically limited, the integrity of each exchange transaction, reasonably speaking, guaranteed, and the ability of each transaction to be executed anywhere in the world between just the buyer and the seller, it will be very difficult for banks and governments to completely regulate it and probably impossible for them kill it completely. Of course, a particular country could forbid money changers from converting Bitcoin to their fiat currency and forbid merchants from accepting it as payment for goods and services, but because transaction are done electronically with reasonable, but not absolute anonymity, buyers and sellers in the country can still get transactions completed; as well, countries that overregulate Bitcoin could see economic activity flow to those countries that are more 'enlightened'. Taxing Bitcoin transactions would present its own set of novel difficulties for tax authorities - I'm from the U.S. and there is an awful lot of 'under the table' economic activity going on here, whether by actual cash changing hands or by barter for goods and services and most of it is probably untaxed. If Bitcoin really took off here, I would expect that the U.S. government would eventually institute a VAT or national sales tax scheme rather than try to tax Bitcoin transactions directly.
  11. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    The relatively high transaction costs for converting amongst fiat currencies and that there are relatively few businesses that accept Bitcoin in my neck of the woods are two things that have made digital currencies unappealing to me. I do think that, barring a major flaw in the mathematics or the software implementation of the math, as people's understanding and perceptions of digital currencies change, more people and businesses will accept them for real goods and services and transaction costs will decrease. For those old enough to remember (I'm 56 and it's been within my lifetime), take a look at the overwhelming rise, acceptance, and use of credit cards - in the early '60s, they were pretty much unheard of except for a small, well-heeled minority of people. Thanks to a loosening of attitudes toward credit and debt amongst all but the smallest minority of people, the development of (mainframe) computers and networks to tie them together, and a few killer advertising campaigns (Karl Malden telling us: 'American Express - Don't leave home without it') from an advertising industry in it's infancy, VISA and MasterCard are everywhere we want to be. For Bitcoin and its brothers, computers and networks as well as the advertising industry have evolved into something along the lines of Nitsche's 'Ubermensch' (Superman) - people's attitudes are going to change a lot faster than they did during the rise of the credit card. If you can resist the temptation to cash out your Bitcoin position, and I admit that I'd find it very difficult to avoid doing so, probably not a bad idea to hold onto it beyond the bubble popping because I expect it will become a lot more practical sooner rather than later.
  12. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    That's a very sane way to look at it - at that point, digital currencies will have lost their mystery and novelty and will be, more or less, like any other currency with transaction costs for converting to and from one's fiat currency having been driven down into the realm of reasonableness. I think that may take a while in the PI since credit cards and debit cards are not nearly as widely accepted there as they are in the West, but eventually they'll get there.
  13. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    Well, I think calling Bitcoin and other so-called digital currencies 'investments' at this point is a little too optimistic; what's going on right now is plainly speculation and it reminds me of the tulip mania and collapse that happened in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century. That's not to say that money can't be made from the speculation, but it's not for the faint of heart nor is it for those who hold a traditional view of what constitutes 'investing'. I've had a series of discussions with a co-worker who is bewitched by the media's breathless scorekeeping of the daily price rises and the wild speculation of where the price will be in 2 years or in 5 years, etc. However, he just can't wrap his head around why the price is rising as well as why digital currencies, being nothing more, in essence, than the computer implementation of provable mathematical theories, have value. I think that his, along with a lot of other people's, 'forgetfulness' of the basics of investing, such as that one should never invest in anything that one doesn't understand well enough to explain to someone else, the higher the reward the higher the risk, and that no one will take better care of one's money than oneself are why Bitcoin has turned into a bubble. My personal view is that, barring a mathematician finding a flaw in the underlying mathematics, which I think is unlikely since elliptic curve cryptography, which underlies Bittcoin, has been around awhile and has been used and tested in other applications or, more likely, a flaw or flaws in the software implementation of the underlying mathematics, we'll see the bubble pop in a spectacular fashion and probably for one of the reasons all speculative bubbles pop - nothing exciting there. Once the bubble pops, as we've seen with other speculative (investment) bubbles, so long as the assets, in this case the underlying mathematics, their real-world implementation, and someone else's willingness to trade what they 'have' for my Bitcoins, truly have 'value' (and I think digital currencies do), we'll see a more orderly and sensible adoption of them and they will, in time, become an accepted and unexciting part of our financial life, much as things like credit cards or derivative financial investments.
  14. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Expat in Iloilo needs O+

    It's not that Asian blood types are not the same as westerners, it's the distribution by type that differs from the West. For example, my blood type is O Neg and according to a chart on Wikipedia, only 0.1% of the Filipino population has that type, while in the U.S., it's 6.6% In Thailand, the distribution is 0.2% Once I became aware of the relative rarity of my type in SE Asia, it's given me a major thing to consider while planning my retirement there. And I was a bit surprised, but glad to know, about the difficulty of getting donations of even relatively common types in the PI - that's a risk I want to know about BEFORE I get there. It reminded me of something our minister said while going through counseling prior to getting married: "Sex is only 10% of a marriage, but boy what a big 10%"
  15. Gentleman.Jack.Darby

    Bad Cookies

    Yes, I hear you on that! Of course, there's a way to handle that sort of crap as well but, depending on the browser, it requires a little more love and on-going attention than is required for an ad-blocker, but once it's set up and one has some practice with it, it becomes second-nature. For Firefox users, NoScript is the gold-standard - it tames Flash and JavaScript, which are the roots of all evil for wasting bandwidth, making websites load slowly, and which also present significant security risks. For Chrome, unfortunately there is version of NoScript available, but there are two good alternatives - uMatrix (MicroMatrix) and ScriptSafe. For Internet Explorer, which one shouldn't be using anyway if one cares about speed and security, I'm not aware of anything like NoScript, but I haven't paid significant attention to or used it in years. I understand there is some ability to do something similar within IE, but I have no first-hand experience with it. If one REALLY wants a fast and secure web browsing experience, check out Google Chromebooks. One of the many great things about them, at least for this discussion, is that they DO NO use either Flash or Javascript so, obviously, script blockers and Flash blockers aren't required.
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