In a previous article, I listed 10 things I did and didn’t miss about Pattaya. I forgot to touch on the subject of bank cards. So, to make up for it now …
Pro: The ease of finding an ATM machine. Having ATMs stuck in the wall of every convenience store (7/lls, Family Marts, etc) in Pattaya is, well, convenient. Except, perhaps, when you have got the wife in tow and she is low on money. In the UK, there is a proliferation of them in town centres but, find yourself stuck for cash in the suburbs and the ATMs are not in such great supply. However, on the other side of this card there is …
Con: To the best of my knowledge the idea of “contactless” debit cards is yet to catch on in a big way in Thailand. I think they are great. If you are in a pub out in the sticks there may not be an ATM close by when it comes to your round. But with “contactless” you probably don’t need it. Loads of businesses in the UK have contactless reader machines. You just wave your card in front of the hand-held screen and you’ve paid. No bar tabs, no rummaging in your pockets to find you are 50p short, no signing any slip, no tapping in your security code. Just present your card and, hey presto, it is done. You can have a receipt printed out if you need it, but you don’t have to. It really can be a case of show and go.
Of course, such a wonderful thing is not without some drawbacks. The Christmas before last I lost my wallet. Had it fallen into the wrong hands it would have been easy for the finder to wave my card around in a few establishments. There is a limit of £30 (approx. Bt1,300) on each transaction but, even so, those of criminal intent could do some damage and gain new friends with a few “drinks all round” calls before the card could be cancelled. Luckily, the wallet was handed in with all contents (including £50 in notes) intact. I had been very fortunate.
Sometimes, as an extra security check, you are asked to tap in your security code after you have waved your card. But I can only recall is happening once in 18 months. Not much of a deterrent to fraudulent use.
So, does the pro outweigh the con?
Not for me. I would be sorry to leave contactless behind. Still, as in most things, I expect Thailand will catch up soon enough.
By Dave Buckley