With the summer approaching and countries slowly starting to open their borders after the pandemic, many of us will be looking forward to travelling abroad for a well-earned holiday. Of course, you will need access to cash while you are away. So what are the best and safest ways of arranging your travel money? What shall I take – cash, prepaid cards, debit, credit cards or travellers cheques?
It is a good idea if you take a small amount of local currency with you whenever you travel. Enough to last you for your first few hours. You will probably need to arrange travel from the airport to your hotel for example. A local currency is the easiest way for you to pay for these initial expenses. The exchange rates charged at airports are notoriously expensive. You better buy some currency before you leave and you will get a much better deal.
I believe the drawback to carrying currency is that if it gets lost or stolen, it can’t be replaced. For this reason, it’s best to use another form of money for most of your funds.
These are the traditional way of carrying money abroad. When you buy the cheques, which can be in Sterling, Euros or US Dollars, you have to sign the stub of each cheque in the presence of the teller. Once abroad, you can convert the cheques into local currency. You can do so by signing the other half of the cheque at a currency exchange. Then the teller will compare the two signatures and also inspect your passport.
This system is more secure than cash as each cheque is uniquely numbered. So if a cheque goes missing it can be quickly cancelled and replaced by the cheque issuer. There is a drawback in that you have to cash the cheques at a currency exchange, and you might not find one offering a good exchange rate.
These are used in much the same way as credit or debit cards. The big difference is that you have to “load” the card with funds before you can spend with it. They are a secure way of carrying money, as the card is replaceable if lost. And as the card can only be used in conjunction with a PIN number then even if stolen it’s difficult for a thief to make use of it. There will, however, still be exchange commission’s payable when you use the card. And also usually a flat fee for cash withdrawals.
Debit and Credit Cards
Debit and credit cards
are accepted virtually all over the world. They may seem a good way of paying your way while abroad. They can be used for shopping, to pay restaurant bills and even to withdraw cash. Before choosing this as your money option though, check your card’s small print to see what interest rate is charged on overseas use. It will probably be higher than the standard rate of your card, and you will probably have to pay exchange charges too.
There are now several international cash machine networks in operation. For example the Cirrus network
, and it’s likely that your cash card can be used internationally, especially in Europe and the USA. This is a good way of financing your holiday spending, as you can draw out what you need while keeping the rest of your money safe in your normal bank account. The downside is that you may have to pay a fee for each withdrawal. The exchange rate you’re charged may not be the best available.
The main thing you need to bear in mind with travel money is that while each of the above options is useful, not all are suitable for use everywhere in the world. The best advice: don’t rely on a single kind of travel money. Take a sensible mixture of cash, local currency, and debit/credit cards, to make sure you can always get local currency when you need it. Enjoy your holiday!