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American Express® Gold Card
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A beautiful country with beautiful people, there’s so much to see in Cambodia. You’ll find that you can cary both USD and the local currency, the Cambodian riel. Most vendors accept both, so there’s no need to exchange your money when you arrive.
Like most countries in Southeast Asia, cash speaks loudest, so be sure to bring an ATM card to access money when you need it. Here we look at the different travel money options for travel in Cambodia.
Our pick for travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
Our pick for multi-currency debit card
Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card
You can use USD in Cambodia, but if you plan to go to more countries or you want flexibility to pay in riels, you have other travel money options:
Credit cards make the perfect travel companion. You can make interest-free purchases and there are a number of perks like emergency card replacement, access to emergency cash and complimentary insurances to protect you, your family and the things you buy. Find a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees to save the most when you spend.
Take a preloaded travel card and withdraw USD from an ATM in Cambodia. Travel card ATM fees can be lower than debit cards — Cambodia is one country where a travel card can work in your favor.
The other choice is to use a debit card to get cash. There are a few travel-friendly debit cards for you to compare. Some debit cards waive international transaction fees such as ATM fees and currency conversion fees. Checking accounts are free to open and won’t cost you anything unless you use the card.
There are many ways you can take your money to Cambodia, but the most valuable option will depend on your financial situation, spending habits and travel plans.
Credit cards are accepted in larger restaurants and hotels, and you’ll likely have to show ID to use them. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees. Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. For added savings, take advantage of the interest-free period by paying your balance in full each month.
Cards that offer travel perks and waive fees often charge an annual fee, so make sure the fee is worth it before you bring it along on your travels. If you’re ever in a jam, credit cards also offer cash advances, though we don’t recommend it. You’ll pay high fees and interest rates apply the moment you get your money.
Debit cards are another way you can take your cash overseas. They are a great way to keep your budget on track, making it easy to keep track of how much you spend. Not all debit cards are suitable for overseas use though, so you’ll want to compare your options. Using your debit card for ATM withdrawals can cost you between $50 and $100 in fees. Find a bank that waives foreign ATM withdrawal fees, and spend the money you save on a guided tour.
Travel cards can lock in conversion rates once you load USD. Use it for purchases without worrying about rates each time you spend — debit and credit cards often charge a currency conversion fee of 3% for each transaction. But In Cambodia, because the US dollar is an accepted currency, you won’t pay the the currency conversion fee.
Where you save in the conversion rates you may pay in fees. You’ll pay fees each time you load the card, ATM withdrawals and sometimes even an inactivity fee.
You can bring US dollars to use in Cambodia, but if you run out of cash or would like to have it waiting for you upon arrival, you can use a money transfer company to get it there safely.
Security is the main advantage of using traveler’s checks. Each check has a unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification. Fees are the main disadvantage. Banks charge a fee to get a check and to cash them. You’re better off using a debit or travel card which lets you make cheap or free ATM withdrawals.
USD and KHR are both used in Cambodia. Buying an item worth $2.50 and paying with $5.00 gives you $2.00 in change and the rest in Cambodian riels. There are different exchange rates between riels and dollars used in Cambodia, too. $1.00 works out to be roughly 4,000 to 4,200 Cambodian riels.
If an item costs $1, pay $1 or 4,200 riels.
If an item costs 5,000 riels, pay $1 and 1,000 riels.
The value of a dollar changes between 4,000 and 4,200 riels depending on how you pay. Use riels to make smaller purchases to get the best price.
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The riel has been issued twice in Cambodia’s history. During the Pol Pot period, the country did not have a currency.
You shouldn’t have any issues finding an ATM in the large cities that accept Mastercard and Visa issued credit, debit and travel cards. Note there are some ATMs that only accept Visas. Be sure to look for the Visa and Mastercard logos displayed on the front of the ATM if you’re unsure which cards the ATM takes.
The standard charge is approximately $5 per withdrawal. ANZ Royal charges the most and Bank of Canadia ATMs are the cheapest. Most ATMs dispense USD, while some dispense riels.
ATMs will dispense large denominations, which can be hard to change. Request an ATM withdrawal that includes multiples of $20. For example, instead of withdrawing $300, you can ask for $280. This way you get some smaller notes as well as larger notes.
You’ll find your money will go far in Cambodia. You can spend any where from $15 to $100 a day if you budget properly. You’ll find that there are many vendors who are willing to negotiate prices — another way to keep costs down. All prices are in US dollars.
|Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia)||Budget||Mid-range||Expensive|
|Accommodation||Cheap guesthouse room|
|Air conditioned hotel room|
|Boutique hotel or resort|
|Meals||Local meals and street eats|
|Decent local restaurant meal|
|Fancy meal with drinks|
|Local tour guide per day|
|4WD rental per day|
Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
David and his friends spent three weeks in Southeast Asia: One week in Cambodia and a week each in Thailand and Vietnam. He visited Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple in Siem Reap and then headed to Sihanoukville on the coast. This is what he told us about using travel money in Cambodia.What is your travel money recommendation?
He says he didn’t have to worry about any purchases or ATM withdrawals with the Charles Schwab debit card. David said he liked the flexibility of not searching out a certain ATM when he needed cash.
Do you have any travel money tips?
David says that it’s always a good idea to tell your bank about your travel plans so it doesn’t think the charges are fraudulent and block your account.