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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



93. Pitfalls of Travelex Cash Passport

Leaving Penang
Because of the length and the subject, I have written this seperately to the post about leaving Penang.

Travel Tip
I write this as a warning to other travellers who have either opened a Travelex Cash Passport or are thinking of opening one - be aware of the pitfalls of such a card. Here's what happened with me:

Above: Travelex Cash Passport (Visa)

Card Declined
I purchased a Travelex Cash Passport which is a prepaid currency card. It costs AUD$15 to have one. I put $500 on mine and used some of this in Cambodia to make purchases. I still had around $260 left in it. When I arrived at the Bayview Hotel, I used this card for my accommodation. What I didn't know was they take the amount (in this case 600MYR which is approx $200) from the card and "hold" it. When it came time to pay my hotel bill, I had a big problem.

I'm standing at reception, try to pay the bill, the card was declined - there wasn't enough money in it. The chap told me thay "hold" the money for seven days. But it depends on the bank when the money gets put back in.

Always have other forms of cash or CC
So effectively, there was no money on the card, even though there was $260 there was still no money. I rang the number on the back of the card, kept getting a recorded message, pressed all the right buttons too, but couldn't get to speak to anyone. All this telephoning took around 10 to 15 minutes and I was panicking - what was I going to do, was I going to miss my bus (you had to pre-book your bus fare), the robotic voice on the other end of the phone was useless. Plus I was mortified that this was happening - can't pay my hotel bill, oh the shame!

I had to use my credit card. The total was 781 MYR (this included all the "extras" - eg meals) and I'd have been up you know what creek without a paddle if I hadn't had a credit card.

Now, the money had been taken out and "held" somewhere on the 14th March so the money should have been put back in by the 21st March - it wasn't. I checked this several times online in Malacca. I left Malaysia on the 22nd and arrived back in Australia on the 23rd March. I checked the account balance again, still the money had not been put back in the account.

On the 24th, I rang Travelex in Australia and explained the situation. The lady I spoke with was very helpful and was surprised to hear I couldn't speak with anyone when I rang them (Travelex) from the hotel. She asked for my bank account details and after the 600 MYR had been put back on the card, credited all the money to my bank. This meant that the balance left was zero. So I did get my money back but only after a long list of problems.

Travelex Cash Passport Rules
a) It costs $15 to open an account and deposit money.
b) Each time you wish to add more money onto the card it costs $15.
c) You can only use the card overseas.
d) You cannot use the card in your home country
e) If you wish to withdraw the money in your home country you will be charged $15.
f) The card is valid for three years.

I am going to Thailand and Laos in a little over three weeks, but I won't be using the cash passport again. True, it is good to have another form of money in case your credit card gets stolen, but after the hassle I had in Malaysia, I really don't think it's worth it. I'll still have EFTPOS cards as well anyway, so will be content with that.

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