I have been using my Qantas Cash card and Citibank debit card for my travels over the past few years with no problems. But on a family trip to Singapore, the hotel asked for a copy of the card I would be using to pay for three rooms.
I didn't expect them to perform a pre-authorisation on it as they already had my NAB Visa credit from the hotels.com booking. I had the total amount for the hotel rooms in Singapore dollars on my Qantas Cash card but with a block on it. I was hoping this would be removed before seven days were up.
After five days, I emailed Qantas Cash and they responded quickly; then shot another off explaining time was short, but there was no further reply. Fortunately, I was able to transfer money to my Citibank card to pay the hotel at checkout.
Upon returning home I contacted Qantas Cash to be told that as it was a prepaid card, as opposed to a credit/debit card, it can take up to 30 days for a pre-authorisation to come off. They have put the money back to my card in Singapore dollars, but to convert it back to Australian dollars means I lose almost 10 per cent of what I put in.
It's a warning for other travellers and, suffice to say, this card will not be featuring in my next overseas experience.
G. Rowe, Wyoming, NSW
TIP OF THE WEEK
With direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi making it even easier for Australians to travel to Vietnam, it might help to consider the options for getting a visa. If visiting Vietnam during a cruise, check with the cruise line. When I cruised to HCMC, a visa on arrival was conveniently arranged on board with passengers billed $US25 ($34).
If flying to Vietnam, you can arrange a tourist visa beforehand with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate for $95. This has benefits. On arrival in Hanoi, entry was so swift that from the time I exited the plane, changed money and hopped into a taxi, only eight minutes had passed. The alternative is to apply online for a visa on arrival paying about $US25.
You print it out, bring it with you, and on arrival have it approved and stamped for $US25. An expat told me the line for the stamp can be long and cautioned that not all websites were legitimate, which could be a big problem.
P. O'Neill, Paddington, NSW
As we travel, it is fun to keep our grandchildren engaged and interested in our destinations. Postcards stimulate the visual senses and provide topics to discuss with kids when we get home. But beware. My beef is that none of our postcards are arriving here in Sydney, depriving my family of a learning tool.
None of our epistles has arrived from Sanur in Bali, Venice, and the Vatican post office. One would think that St Peter would have been disappointed if his gospels were lost by Poste Italiane.
John P. Dear, Hornsby, NSW
My brother in Madrid wants us (in Sydney) to join him and his wife on a safari in South Africa next January and February to celebrate his wife's 60th birthday. None of us has any experience of Africa.
Can your readers advise if this is a good time of year for a safari? Is South Africa the best country to safari, or should we go elsewhere – Botswana or another southern African country, or Kenya and Tanzania further to the north-east? Can you recommend a reputable company to book through, please?
Richard Cusden, Lane Cove North, NSW
A few years ago we were staying in Lucca, Italy and it happened to be the Puccini Festival, so there were Puccini concerts in the main church and several of the smaller churches. You can imagine: the acoustics were amazing and we got to sit up close and personal to the performers. A wonderful and recommended experience was made all the more enjoyable because we chanced upon it.
A. L'Estrange, Double Bay