Never travel with the expectation that you won't need cash, believing you will just drop that ATM card or MasterCard into a convenient ATM machine in Hong Kong. I have found that there just is no reliable way of finding out in advance if your card will or will not work overseas in bank machines. Sometimes you need a special PIN number, sometimes it just works and other times I've gotten plenty cold and angry wandering around trying different machines without luck.

Unfortunately in our own experience, our local U.S. bank has always proved a poor source of information about using an ATM abroad. We have also acquired directories from our credit card company that purported to list all the useable ATM's in the host country. Sad to say, but it turned out that many of the addresses were wrong, or the hours were wrong or the card just did not work in the ATM.

Generally, you'll want to treat a working ATM as an unexpected pleasure, like getting chocolates on your birthday and not an expected obligation, like buying chocolates for your boss on her birthday. Expect differences and be surprised by similarities and you'll be alright.

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