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I heard somewhere that many ATM machines in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur specifically) do not accept ATM cards issued by U.S. banks (supposedly due to frequent fraud). Is this correct?

If this is the case, what are the ways around the problem. Is there a specific bank which does accept these cards, or a way to withdraw cash at a branch? I'm reluctant to carry too much cash.

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2 Answers

Not sure where you heard that information. I was in Malaysia about two years ago, any significant Malaysian bank will accept your ATM card. And I had no problems while in Kuantan OR Kuala Lumpur. Now, there are banks non-Muslims are not permitted in, but there was only one of those I saw while in Kuala Lumpur.

A bigger issue, at least when I was there and perhaps where your rumor stems from, apparently it's fairly common for people to put a device on the card reader of a legitimate ATM. So, when you stick your card in, it gets your information and can cause transactions to not complete. I was told to do a visual inspection before using any ATM and to physically see if there was anything loose on the card slot. The device is allegedly very discreet.

Personally, I would try to go to actual banks and use their ATMs as much as possible. Still check the slot of course.

So, unless something has changed significantly, your ATM card should be fine.

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I think you misheard the news.

In January 2012, several ATM withdrawals happened in Malaysia without the owners' consent. The Account owners are Singapore residents that had made ATM withdrawals in Bugis (a place in Singapore). You can read the news on the "asiaone" Singaporean news site.

Several weeks later, most Singapore Banks (UOB and DBS) changed the customer withdrawal policy. They do not allow withdrawal from outside Singapore (not only Malaysia), unless the customer has made a special request to do so.

I have never heard of any American bank take the same action (reject withdrawal from Malaysia). However, it would be better to check with your bank on your bank withdrawal policy.

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The rumor I heard is that Malaysian banks were blocking U.S. ATM withdrawals (U.S. banks were not the ones doing the blocking). –  dbkk Oct 11 '12 at 15:37
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