a VirtualTourist member from Kingston upon Hull asked on Sep 21, 2014
What's the best way to carry money nowadays when travelling, is it to carry cash in a concealed pouch, put money on a travel card, use a defined travel credit card or travellers cheques (if they still have them) and where is the best place to change money is it through somewhere like travelex or through one's bank?
Thanks in advance for any advice, as it's been a while since I travelled anywhere and the last time I did I had a wife who insisted she was the one who would be in charge of everything...she took the money and went in 2006 :-(
Everyone will tell you something different. For foreign travel, its always a good idea to purchase a small amount of the local currency or, travelers checks in the local currency. Then, purchase more once at your destination based upon your needs.
The 'best' way is the one which suits you personally.
I take two credit cards: one Visa and one Mastercard, because both are widely accepted. I always tell my bank where I will be before I leave home.
Many people now use ATMs to withdraw cash, taking some out on arrival at the 'abroad' airport. But as you're from the UK you'll probably find that your bank will charge you for ATM withdrawals as well as charging you x% for a foreign currency transaction.
I don't spend much at all when I'm away so I prefer to take my cash with me having already exchanged x amount through my bank (which charges no commission fee). The Post Office has reasonable exchange rates, especially if you are changing a lot of money, and I've also seen Marks & Spencer mentioned as being a good place.
Airport exchanges anywhere do not seem to offer good rates, so imo they are best avoided wherever possible.
I only use my cards for paying hotels and for emergencies. Cards and cash I don't need for the day stay in the hotel safe, with my passport etc. If there is no safe I have other ways of dealing with the issue.When I'm travelling to my destination they live in an under-clothing pouch. During the days I am wherever I use a smaller under-clothing pouch for my 'emergency' card & most cash, only having a minimal amount in my purse.
When I visit the US I use a pre-loaded currency card which I load with USD as and when the rate is in my favour and then use just like a debit card in the US. There are no extra fees to pay with such cards, as is usually the way with using ATMs. There are currency cards available in the UK...mine is Caxton but I know others who use Fairfx. You can get USD, euro and 'global' currency cards.
Those are the choices which suit me & my way of travelling. :-)
I'd suggest you avoid travellers' cheques like the plague. They are hugely old-fashioned. Even if you find somewhere which will accept them you will pay through the nose for the privilege, just as you will if you exchange them at a bank (as I found out to my cost when I fist started travelling around 10 years ago).
When I travel I keep my money, identity card and credit cards inside a tissue bag under my underwear.
A lot of places do not accept credit cards apart from hotels and the like. Travelers Checks are always a good idea. But even fewer places accept them. In most places, the recipient has to pay a ridiculous fee to cash them at their local financial institution. However, most major hotels do accept them and they are a safety item if lost or stolen, as they easily be replaces.
Personally, I had problems with them while in Spain. That's actually the last time I purchased them. Ever since, I've gotten a denomination of the local currency wherever I've been.
As leics pointed out, the best way is the way that best suits you.
With some embarrassment I have to say that i have found the best rates for changing cash to the local currency was at Western Union.
Can you still get travellers' cheques?
Register your journey with the issuer(s) of your debit/credit cards, (so they know you're away) to avoid "card declined" messages.
I disagree with the statement that 'A lot of places do not accept credit cards apart from hotels and the like', certainly in Europe and in the US. That has defintiely not been my own experience. Even though I rarely pay with a card i always take note of whether crad payment is accepted.
Many places won't accept cards for very small purchases, of course, but otherwise either credit or debit cards are widely accepted in shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, for train tickets, restaurants, cafes etc as long as they have one of the more commonplace logos. Visa and Mastercard certainly pose no problems though American Express is much less widely-accepted in European countries. It doesn't actually matter whether the card is a credit or a debit card: the only thing that matters is that its logo is accepted by the merchant.
But one should always be very aware of what charges the card provider will levy for use abroad. It is often cheaper in the long run to use cash
Avoid travelers cheques as Leics has stated.
We were big proponents of travelers cheques when we first started traveling but as Leics states, very few places now accept them.
Whenever we travel we use mostly ATM's and Credit Cards.
Go to your bank or look it up on line.
Most major banks have a "sister bank" with which they work in different parts of the world.
For instance, with our bank, Bank of America we are able to use the following w/out service fees and tacked expenses:
Here is a list of Bank of America international partner ATMs:
Barclays (United Kingdom)
BNL D’Italia (Italy)
BNP Paribas (France)
China Construction Bank (Mainland China)
Deutsche Bank (Germany)
Scotiabank (Canada, Peru, Chile and the Caribbean)
Westpac Bank (Australia and New Zealand)
Find out which if any of the banks work in a partnership with yours.
Citi Bank for instance has a headquarter in Bangkok, Thailand and by going to Silom, where the headquarters are located or using any of the Citibank ATM or Credit Card machines throughout the city you are able to w/draw or use your card for free avoiding expensive fees and sur charges.
I hope this helps.
Neville, you might like to have a look at the charges made by UK banks for credit & debit card use abroad:
It might...might.....be worth setting up a new account, but that really depends on how much travel you plan to do and how often. For me, starting a new account somewhere is just not worth the hassle.
I'm not aware of any UK banks which offer free use of 'sister' bank ATMs abroad but it might be worth investigating the cards detailed here:
I disagree with the disagreement. I have seen many places in Europe with signs that credit cards are not accepted. This is particularly true of smaller eateries. And though most do, there are accomodations that dont accept them either.
Travelers checks are an ancient relic of centuries past.......keep one and frame it. One day it might be worth something...........d:o)
I think your last visit to Europe was in 2013, to parts of Poland and Germany?
As I stated above, there are of course some places which do not accept cards...and more which will not accept them for smaller purchases. That is exactly the same in the UK.
However, you stated that ' a lot of places do not accept cards...in Europe' and that is not accurate. 'Europe' is not simply one homogenous mass with its countries functioning as mere states of one overall whole. I don't know if you mean 'Europe' the continent or the EU? I'm guessing you mean the latter? In a few EU countries credit//debit card payment is less common than in the UK, in some countries it is very common indeed, in a few it is the norm even for very small purchases. But to flatly state that 'a lot' of places don't accept cards is simply not accurate.
I can only state that I have visited different mainland European countries several times a year over the past few years and, imo, it is accurate to state that credit and debit cards with Visa or Mastercard logos are widely accepted (throughout the EU in particular). Certainly most EU countries are much the same as the UK. If you wouldn't expect a UK place to accept a card chances are a similar 'foreign' place won't do so either.
It is. I have seen the signs. I was there last year remember. And I recall seeing them trips previous. Also, when I said Europe, I was referring to much of the continent. I have seen countless restaurants, cafes, etc. state they do not accept credit cards. Of course many of the larger, fancy establishments will accept them.
A separate item to note. I don't know where u are from Neville, but many ATMS in Europe will not accept US issued cards as unlike those in Europe, they don't have a chip implanted. Unless you have such a card, may foreign ATMs will not accept them. There was a major article on this matter in the paper earlier this year. Its been a major issue for many US travelers.
On that note, if you do wish to take a cash advance, you will have to actually go into the bank itself.
You were in some places in Poland and Germany last year, yes, and I believe you visited some other European countries quite a few years ago now. I don't think you have visited any non-EU European countries?
I think we shall agree to differ on this point, setting my more extensive, regular and recent experiences against your own.
I feel you are wrong to suggest that European ATMs do not accept unchipped cards. Many of out US Vt-ers use EU ATMs and, as far as I am aware, none have reported any difficulty. It is the PIN which matters with ATMs rather than the chip. But it will of course depend on the specific ATM used as well as the specific card and the bank to which it is linked.
There can certainly be problems with automated machines which sell e.g. train tickets or fuel and often do not accept unchipped cards. This has certainly caused difficulties for visitors from the US whose cards do not have chips. Chipped cards have long been the norm throughout Europe and the facility to 'wipe and sign' though it still exists in the majority of card readers & tills, may not be something with which younger staff members are familiar.
But Neville is from the UK, as stated on his profile page and in the small box which appears when one hovers over his photo, so unchipped cards will not be an issue for him anyway. He will, if he wishes, be able to use ATMs throughout Europe though telling the card provider beforehand is a very good idea, as is only using an ATM when the bank is open just in case the card is 'swallowed' by the machine.
Well, US cards ARE a problem for US travelers. As mentioned, there was an article about it in the Travel Section of the NY Times earlier this year. Those who may have used them with no problem, its quite fair to state they may have obtained cards with chips (it is possible to get them from some sources) plus, they could be issued by foreign based banks (Bank Leumi and Deutscha Bank) being 2 examples. There are also International Banks, not solely US ones like the Bank of New York, which offer cards with chips.
The pin which you refer is a separate entity. Its the private number everyone has which enable them to use their cards. Without the pin, the card holder cant use his plastic, whether an ATM accepts it or not.
as of 2013, more and more cards are now using chips (RFID) cards in the USofA. Even cards that were once w/out have been updated and most of us should've received the new versions in the mail by now. At last count, over 35 million in circulation. EMV chips, which work in conjunction with those in Europe are used by Chase and BOA cards as well as a couple of other major credit card companies.
I agree again with Leics that most major places throughout Europe including most major restaurants, gift shops, souvenir shops, hotels, grocers, etc. use and accept credit cards - we've never encountered a problem.
Not throughout Asia and certainly not throughout Europe and we traveled quite extensively throughout Italy 2 years ago including smaller towns.
There will of course be the occasional exception such as small mom and pop restaurants (even some of these we found accepted CC's), roadside stands, private B&B's and/or may have a minimum charge requirement.
It is not unusual to find bakeries, grocers and shops requiring a minimum of $5.00, $8.00 or even $10.00 minimum credit card charge as they have to pay a % to the credit card company.
This avoids people walking in and wishing to purchase a $ 0.99 bottle of water on credit!
But the point is also made that you appear to be from Europe so this is rendered mute and chances are if you are looking to travel within the EU or even Asia/Australia, etc. you won't encounter any problems.
As to which banks may work in conjunction to yours, look for the banks listed in the "Global ATM Alliance". I see Barclay is part of that alliance.
They have been pressing most US banks to issue cards with chips for that reason. But its the same old argument. Money. The cost to change over to chipped cards is astronomical and many financial analysts in the banking industry continue to state it just simply does not pay.
Its a similar store with the MTA, the worlds largest computer transportation system. Some have been pushing to change to a system akin to that used in the UK and elsewhere. But again, they argue the cost to change would be enormous.
Just to note that I am of course fully aware of the difference between a chip and a PIN. I am , after all, from a country which has been using chip & PIN cards as a norm since around 2002.
It's interesting that Homer notes US credit/debit cards are now being issued with a chip (or replaced by newer versions). That is my understanding too.
But, as he says, the whole issue is irrelevant. Neville is from the UK and thus all his cards will have chip & PIN (unless he has a cashpoint-only card, which won't work abroad anyway).
Thanks [VT member 53351], do you keep it in your underwear in your bag or on you when you are travelling?
J, Homer did not say all banks. he said more and more, but most still do not have the chip. There are many, many banks, National, Foreign and International. The majority still have chip less cards.
Apparently Neville is from the UK, yes. But unless you take the time to check to see from where a poster is from, you do have to assume the query is generalized.
Hi [VT member 73696], thanks [VT member 73696] all you have written, sorry that this has caused some argument between your good self and roamer61.
I've been looking at moneysavingexpert and noted their advice along with moneysupermarket and I think what I might do, is look at taking out either a Halifax Clarity credit card or a Saga credit card (as I'm well over 50!) as per the advice from Martin's mob on MSE. I plan to sleep in hostels as prefer them to hotels as have been in the YHA for over 20 years and so am automatically a member of Hostelling International as you find more people to talk to and are on the same wavelength as yourself, a thing you often don't get in hotels, I know from past experience of travelling alone.
I have travelled many miles and to many countries when I was in the Merchant Navy (1969 to 1996) and changing money was then very easy or we would get a sub from the Captain who got local currency from the ships agent and the shipping company would pick up the tab for the cost of the exchange as we always got it at the local bank rate. The reason I asked about travellers cheques was because before I married I often went abroad to avoid paying Income Tax in the mid to late 80's and took travellers cheques rather than a lot of money with me. I married in 1992 and my ex took care of everything after that.
My plans at the moment are to go back to Japan a country I visited often from the mid 70's to leaving 'deep sea' as we seamen call going around the world in 1996 (I then went to work in the North and Irish seas for 10 years) all holidays and spending money were organised by my ex until 2004 and i haven't been anywhere other than a short trip to Leuven in Belgium to take my older brother for a Christmas present in 2007 to the brewery that made his favourite drink which is Stella Artois. It was a lovely tour as they give you a 0.25 litre of it at the end. Leuven very easy to travel to with Ryanair from Stanstead to Brussels Charleroi and then train to Leuven the hostel is very close to the station and the brewery is an easy walk away.
I also plan to visit New Zealand one island at a time over the new few years as it's a country I never got to visit but always wanted to as it always intrigued me to know what life was like on the islands. I'd also like to visit The Azores as the ships I sailed on occasionally passed them but never called in because the ships were too big and had no reason to. Who knows after that, maybe Italy and a few land locked countries in Europe.
Hi [VT member ed36], sorry I didn't think to put that I'm from the UK will do if I post another question or a reply. I didn't as not knowing my way around the site yet would've thought others would have looked to see who I was on the members page of newies, and being as I am from Kingston upon Hull there's not too many other cities like mine in the rest of the world, the only other one I can think of is Kingston on Thames.
No problem. Welcome to VT and enjoy your travels.
I may be excessively cautious but I believe in carrying many different sources of money. My hotels are usually prepaid and after that it is an ATM for carrying money. I carry an ATM card, Visa, MasterCard, Amex, $US, $AU, and an old standby , TX in $US to cover all eventualities.
My Visa was skimmed on Bali, and when it went active on Bali when I was by then in Darwin, Visa cancelled it immediately.
As recently as 2011, my hotel in Nagoya willingly cashed TX. Citibank in Tokyo was fine for my ATM card, but outside Tokyo, it was the Post Office bank which would only dispense small withdrawals.
Last year I got caught out by making a cash transfer , paying out my credit card in Austin. That transaction would not let me use a cash machine in Buenos Aires. I had exceeded my daily limit. Wouldn't happen in Aus. But protocols vary around the world. In BA it took 4 tries on different machines to get money. And there was no English option on the machine.
My caution paid off.
Thanks for the insight into being American and travelling to and around Europe 'Homedad', it's good to see how you've travelled around using a credit card. I have my own bank's (Yorkshire Bank) Mastercard but rarely use it as I have a Debit card which I haven;t used outside of the UK because I haven't been anywhere in Europe except for a visit to Rotterdam with my job since 2007 and everything then was on the company's tab. But now that I'm on point of resuming my own personal travels again, I will be starting to use credit cards for anything I can and paying them off when I return home to hopefully stay in the interest free period and incur any charges.
Neville (from Kingston upon Hull in East Yorkshire. England)
Sorry meant to reply to you Homer and not as I called you Homedad, don't know where I got that from, let's put it down to yet another a senior moment, huh?
haha, no problems Neville, I've answered to much worse and I knew what you meant.
When my partner and I travel we pre-pay our hotels using credit cards and make sure and pay everything off as soon as bill comes in to avoid any interest rates.
As we pre-book well in advance or, when sales go on (presently hotels.com are having a 60% off sale and I'm in the process of booking our next trip to Europe) - we try and travel with totally free credit cards (free of charges on them that is).
You should not at all encounter any problems using your cards, both credit and debits.
Leics is a long time member, very well traveled and one of our top ranking members.
She's very spot on when it comes to her advice and indeed helped us with our trip to Italy.
I'm a lot like you when spending money, I usually only carry just what I need and don't spend needlessly. My problem? at the moment is that most hostels one looks at want a small deposit in gbp's and then full payment in local currency on arrival, if they didn't I would put everything on a credit card and pay back as soon as I returned home.
Do you think its best to pay for flights using a credit card given the clause 75 protection in the UK or a debit card to save the cost of using a credit card?
Thanks for your insight wwroam, I'll bear in mind what you've written when I start to travel again. Cheers, Neville