Preparing for our trip to Taiwan, we called our American bank and credit card companies to inform them we’d be away. (This avoided getting labeled as stolen cards while overseas, an embarrassing thing to have happen.) When informing the bank, I was warned about additional fees that would apply each time we’d might use the debit card at an ATM to get cash locally. We decided to withdraw some cash while still in Michigan and guard it carefully until we could convert it at a bank in Taiwan, avoiding some of the additional fees. So, we did.
On our second day in Taiwan we went on a stroll that included a bank visit. We drew a number and waited to be called. On a screen behind the teller the current exchange rates for several currencies were posted: Hong Kong Dollars, Philippine Pesos, Vietnamese Dong, Euros, Chinese RMB and US Dollars. I did some mental math and figured out approximately what we would receive for our $600. When I looked back, the rate had dropped. I mentioned that to Char, who was seated beside me, and as soon as I did, it changed again, this time, upward.
Across the 5 of 6 minutes that we waited for our number to be called, the rate continued to fluctuate. When I was called to the teller’s window and made my request for exchange, I was asked to fill out a form. I did so quickly because I didn’t want the rate to change too drastically while I was dotting an “i” or crossing a “t”. When the form was accepted, I said to the teller, “Now, don’t turn your head to check.” She knew what I meant.
The “payout” didn’t equal my expectations, not because the rate fluctuated, but because I didn’t know what fees were charged here. Nonetheless, it was less than our good solid MidWestern bank in the USA would’ve hit us for at the ATM. We’re happy, and ready to spend lavishly.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.