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Should I hold on to my own currency?

As the title indicates, should I hold on to the US$ that we brought with us just in case -- whatever the "case" happens to be? 

We have half a dozen credit cards to travel with and pay for anything we need.

We have a Schwab debit card to get local currency from ATM or use as another credit card.

We can transfer money in US$ from Schwab to Sacombank although it's not instantaneous. The fee is reasonable -- $25 flat rate; $10 less than with Citibank where we used to have an account (can't maintain the require balance of $5000 so we decided to close it).

What's your opinion and advice?  Is there any advantage of keeping US$ in the safe?

My elaborate answer: As an foreigner distant from my own country, where I don't have a local bank account, or health insurance, my strategy is to stockpile $USD. Easy access to money is not something I want to worry about. I like leaving my fortune in the US, seems safer. Every time I travel back, I return with another envelope of crisp new Franklins (under the $5000 Viet Nam declaration limit) so that I build a nest egg here. No I don't worry about airport muggers.

"When in Rome do as the Romans do". Vietnamese culture is to distrust banks and squirrel away money and gold at home. I split and hide it. Buildings I live in are all brick and elevated so little worry about fire or flood. I will get a safe in the future when I am settled. A small safe is worse than hiding - it announces "valuables inside" and can be carried away. You need to go big or bolted in.

Carry in cash, no conversion, no fee.  The VND is pegged to the USD minus occasional  central planning tweaks to the disadvantage of the Vietnamese, so the cash has gained a few percent. XE USD to VND, 5 years

In 2 years, one time my Schwab debit card broke, once my Capital One credit card broke, and once the second credit card expired. The debit card broke just before a trip to the states, good timing. Now I keep two debit cards and two credit cards. I leave one pair in the house. In Thailand again I needed a large deposit, it was handy having 2 debit cards, so 2 x $400 ATM withdrawal was nice.

I have used dollars 3 times. When I moved into my first apartment, I needed $1500 for rent and deposit in 24 hours. Low daily ATM limits would have taken days. Another time I needed extra cash for something I forget now, and then when I traveled to Cambodia, dollars are regular currency.

I was hoping you would answer, so I'm glad you did.  This thread was created, foremost, so I can hear of your experiences again with more details than you've shared in the past. 

I've been holding on to the US$ because of some vague idea that maybe that's what I should do.  Under the same nebulous concept, I opened an account with Citibank in the US and in VN, then closed both.  Then almost opened one with HSBC here too but luckily I didn't have all the documents with me at the time.  Then a great bank clerk at Sacombank helped me open two accounts, both of which husband now wants to close because he doesn't think we need them. 

In the meantime, I withdraw VND from Schwab to pay rent and live on.  Is that what you do also?  But if so, how do you get to the point of "carry in cash, no conversion, no fee"?  Schwab refunds ATM fee but not conversion fee (at least I don't think they do) so you still pay, or have you found a way to avoid it?

I truly appreciate your help, as well as anyone else's who doesn't mind jumping in to help me seeing things a bit clearer.

As usual, go-with-the-bot(tom-line)'s answer is neither elite or labored;

(yes folks: Elvis is forced to re-enter the building)

His alter-ego as Captain Scunge, the hero of eco-tourism demands
input to this valid problem.

Are the prophets of doom mistaken?  Probably not.

  But aside from the collapses of the USD after the pricked property bubble and the warnings given by Greece, Cyprus & India, there are
healthy doubts that the value of the world's best fiat system will vanish overnight.   Even so, it is always best to be prepared...

Your friendly advisor advocates cash, 'assets' and gold (sovereigns) to overcome empty or invalid ATMs.   He also uses the two travel cards as well as a healthy credit card (5,000 limit)  (lose one; use the other...)

Yes, body belts can be a bugbear, but I have NEVER been stopped, searched or even queried as to the value I carry.  Well over the limit...
..in the 3 most popular currencies...   Local, USD & Euro..(?)  Up to you.

The gold sovereigns are my insurance: not needed (so far)
Some prefer gold rings, jewellery, watches etc.   Too flashy.

Find or ferret out the local best converter; mine converts at 2% which keeps me happy in Ha Noi.   Go Ogle won't help you here.  Use yer wits.

The bottom line?   There isn't one.  Only you are responsible for your own intelligence.  Avoid banks like the plague, safes are not safe, do not test the trust of 'friends'...  Connect the dots; make your own lists...(etc)

..and of course, it is choice, not chance that will decide your destiny...

Hope this helps.       :unsure

Thank you,  Bazza.  As always, it takes a bit of deciphering to read your comment, but the outcome is worth the effort.

Our credit cards are healthy, would provide us with an excellent combined limit when needed, and come in different formats (2 Amex, 3 Visa, and 3 MC).  Unfortunately, we only have one debit card (would have had two, but we closed Citibank.)

Strange for someone with Vietnamese heritage, but I've never paid attention to gold.  However, via family members, I do know a good jewelry owner who brings money to our place (or any place of our choice) for exchange so we don't have to go to her shop and being subjected to prying eyes.  Her rate is always better than the amount shown in my XCurrency app, so I would say she's a keeper.

I always keep some USD, it's handy when you first arrive in many countries. I only keep about 1000 usd at most, as it's usually enough for the start of a few trips.

Ciambella :

I withdraw VND from Schwab to pay rent and live on.  Is that what you do also?  But if so, how do you get to the point of "carry in cash, no conversion, no fee"?  Schwab refunds ATM fee but not conversion fee (at least I don't think they do) so you still pay, or have you found a way to avoid it?

Exactly, I use my Schwab ATM card to withdraw VND for living expenses. I think I could get the biggest chunks at HSBC last. Sometimes I would use a credit card at Coopmart, I get 2 points when I do, also for travel expenses when I pay online. Schwab reimburses ATM feels, you see it on the statement. As far as currency conversion charges, I don't know. I never did the homework of recording the current dollar/VND exchange rate on XE.com for that day, vs how much VND the machine gave me, and compared to gold shops.

Regarding "carry in cash, no fee" I mean that when in the US, I withdraw crispy new $100s at the bank counter, no fee of course, then carry them physically on the airplane, and then I have this money in Vietnam without incurring any fees. Until I ever want to exchange it, which I only did one time, because I am a hoarder. It isn't that I worry so much about fees, I just want to fly under the radar as far as moving money around. I rather prefer saying "I take long vacations", rather than "I moved to a foreign country".

Bazza139 :

The gold sovereigns are my insurance: not needed (so far)
Some prefer gold rings, jewellery, watches etc.   Too flashy.

I don't know where the official VN customs rules website it, but this one sez you can bring in up to US$5000 cash and 300 grams gold with declaration. That is 10 one-ounce gold coins the size of quarters, value $12,000. The value goes up and down though.

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