For those who do not wish to indulge in a credit card, or if you have an insufficient credit score, this prepaid MasterCard could be the answer to your prayers. As a traveller, it is important to have multiple contingency plans in case the worst happens, and you lose access to your funds: if your bag is stolen or you misplace your cash card. Neteller is one of the better cards we have researched and is widely used by our team in Bangkok. Neteller is not a credit card in the traditional sense because the only credit available to you is what you top up, so this can be used as another source of ready cash if trouble strikes.
The Bangkok Consultant suggests a minimum of two backups. Cash is always handy, which can be traded at many money exchange bureaus, and it is always wise to separate your bulk cash with your day to day money and your credit cards (one in your pocket and the other in your bag), so if one does go missing you still have the other. Traveller’s cheques can be a popular choice but they can be expensive to change, and if trouble doesn’t strike, you will need to change them anyway. Usually, the cheapest way to draw on your income, when travelling, is to take as much as you can from an ATM in one visit. An ATM in Thailand will charge 200 baht to withdraw, so taking as much as you can in one go is the cheaper option. Your bank will also charge a small exchange fee, but usually, then you will get that day’s national exchange rate. If not, the ATM should tell you the price before you proceed. Increasing your maximum daily limit before you leave your home country is beneficial. Most ATM’s in Thailand have a 20,000 baht limit; others may have more, so making sure you can access at least that much can make it cheaper. If you’re paying 200 baht every time, at the ATM, to take out 20,000 baht, then you are only paying 1%. Taking five grand out at a time is not the most economical way of doing things.
Unfortunately with all credit cards, including Neteller, you will not get a good exchange rate, but this card is meant to be used in an emergency and not for drawing cash out all the time. Again, using the card for other electronic transactions (hotels, restaurants & supermarkets, etc.) is fine. Use your backup currency for cash transactions and use your credit card for everywhere else that will accept it. Always make sure you tell your bank and credit card company that you will be using your card abroad, otherwise the fraud department may block your card, and this always seems to happen at the wrong time. It is always best to carry what you need when you go out and store the rest in a safe place at your hotel. It’s surprising in today’s modern world, but there are still many airlines that will only accept a credit card payments when booking flights online, so this can cause problems for you if you don’t have one. Credit cards usually come with better guarantees than ATM cards, including fraud protection and other benefits.
Topping up your Neteller prepaid credit card to cover 20,000 baht is enough to get you out of trouble until a replacement card can be sent out. In conjunction with your other backups, this should see you through. If you do not wish to top up your Neteller card before you leave on your trip; you can opt to top it up online should you get into trouble, but in our experience, it is best to have at least some cash available. You may not be able to get online, or due to unforeseen circumstances, you may not be able to access your bank account funds.
Sometimes replacement cards will only be sent to specific banks, which could involve travelling a distance to get to your designated branch e.g. Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Of course, you can continue to top up your Neteller card and access your funds that way until your new bank card arrives. So if you’re looking for ways to ensure you don’t end up shit creek without a paddle, Neteller is a handy, debt free, way of reassuring you have a stress free trip.