Hi, guys had a look around the forum but couldnt find what I was looking for. If this isn't the right place to post this then feel free to move it to the right place. I'm from the UK and I'm going to South America at the end of May and I'm struggling to decide on how I am going to carry my cash. I don't want to use my debit card as I understand there are a lot of fees for withdrawals abroad and I don't have a credit card and don't really want to get one if it can be helped either although I may have to in the end. Apart from carrying all the cash which is probably a really bad idea, do you guys have any other ideas/recommendations at all for this? (even if your recommendation is to use a credit card etc).
Have a look at this recent thread Safety advice for backpacker
Look into prepaid travel cards, they work like a debit card. Compare a few, there are plenty designed for travelling therefore keeping transaction fees to a minimum.
And keep the fees to a minimum by drawing the largest amount you can each time. Plus fewer trips to the machine is better security.
Thanks for the replies, appreciate it. Few things here that I can definitely look into, cheers.
If your still in your plans, I wouldn't carry too much cash. I would look into getting a credit/debit card that does not have transaction fees. In the US Captial One offers this, if I am not mistaken. It should be the same for UK. I would imagine there are others. Cash currency can be dangerous because exchanging it can be expensive and subject to the people doing it. Never change money on the street.. ever... no matter what rate they promise you. They have very sophisticated ways to rip you off.
No Ice, in the UK Capital One target the poorer risk customers and charge higher rates than average. I don't know of any card with zero fees for foreign exchange, used to be Nationwide Flexaccount but no longer.
Using debit cards will be more expensive than using ATMs efficiently (drawing a big chunk each time) and limits your options for where to shop. It also exposes you to card fraud a lot more times.
How you keep your money when your traveling is very important. For preventing undesired situation you can:
1) Divide money in different places. Don't keep all your money into one place.
2) Favor on-body storage. You can buy some under-clothing storage accessories.
3) Keep small bills handy. It's not a very good idea for people to see you have a lot of money on you.
4) Carry an anti-theft bag. You can buy a bag like this, It's not that expensive and it can be very useful.
5) Trim your wallet. Don't take on your trip what you don't need. Take only the necessary things.
I'm sure there are a lot of other tricks but I use this when I travel so I wish you best of luck on your future trips!
My advice would be to get a credit card before you leave. With my bank, if I lodged all my money into my CC (i.e. so it had a sizeable + balance), then I wasn't charged any fee for taking money out. But maybe do your homework - check out what types of CC are available. I personally wouldn't travel without one. In South America in 2006, I found I needed both my Mastercard and my VIsa. Most places only accepted one or the other. That might not be the case now 8 years on
Similar to Curacao, my strategy when I'm on the move is usually this:
Mastercard plus photocopy of passport in one place (e.g. pocket or wallet) with some small bills in local currency
Visa card plus Bank of Ireland debit card plus passport plus one or two larger bills in my daypack which I tried to never left out of my sight.
US$100 emergency cash hidden in the side of my hiking boots or in an inner pocket of my jacket.
In the unlikely event that you are mugged then you have some back-up options! I was mugged once (got everything back thanks to a gallant Chilean :D) and had my daypack stolen from under a seat in an internet cafe on another occasion (small bills, CC and camera taken). I even had ipod and earbuds taken right out of my ears while I slept on a bus, so it's better to be prepared believe me.
I hope that helps. Have a great trip. South America is absolutely amazing!
[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jun-2014, at 13:40 by samsara_ ]