As I’ve been learning how to travel Internationally, I take my cues from the experts. For instance, on my fall trip to Madrid, I was advised to move money over to my ATM account and withdraw it when I needed local cash. The machines provide a better conversion rate and it helps you not have to carry cash.
As I prepared for a month in Africa, I assumed the same would be true.
Assumed being the operative word.
When we arrived in Nairobi, our safari had been pre-paid. We had the funds in the bank in the US. All we needed to do was make a withdrawl. Simple. As I went to the Barclays ATM machine, I called my bank in the US to make sure they could watch my transaction. I had a rep on the phone and told her I needed to withdraw a sizeable amount. She kept me on the line as I withdrew $500 from the ATM. My second withdrawl did not go so well. The machine ate my card.
After calling Barclays customer service number, they said they would destroy my card. But, I could come in with my ID and passport to withdraw. I returned with Mike Reynen, Africa Area Director, to the bank. After nearly two hours of waiting, we were informed we couldn’t do the transaction. Needless to say, Barclays is not on my happy list.
With help from the Reynens, we figured out an alternate plan. We left Nairobi and the Reynens and went on our safari. Upon returning, we took them out for dinner to thank them for their hospitality and help. They presented us each with gifts: My gift was a custom Barclays “lack of customer service” card – made by Mike. A great reminder of three things:
1. When traveling in Africa, carry cash.
2. Never, under any circumstances, use Barclays for a bank.
3. Mike & Vickie Reynen are awesome.