Skip Navigation

What is the best way to carry/spend our cash when traveling

Travel Forums General Talk What is the best way to carry/spend our cash when traveling

1. Posted by Chelsandliam (Respected Member, 2 posts) 26 Sep '12 07:21

We are planning an extended trip to South East Asia, Sri Lanka and India in December for a year and are quite confused about the best way to carry and spend our cash. We are from the UK and have obviously saved lots of money to go with but we don’t know what the most cost effective way to spend it is as all the different percentages and charges are quite overwhelming.

We have looked into getting a prepaid worldwide passport Travelex card or a Prepaid Caxton card and that way we can withdraw at Mastercad or Visa points worldwide and spend on this but is this the best way??

We are thinking of spreading the money over a pre-paid card, some travellers cheques and some cash and taking our debit cards along also.

Is this a good idea? Can someone who has travelled for long periods give us some advice about how they went about it.

Thanks,

Chelsea and Liam

2. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru, 806 posts) 26 Sep '12 09:26

These days, I pretty much rely on Debit cards for all of my travels. Check the back of your card. It should have PLUS or CIRRUS on it. These are the international ATM banking systems, and you should be able to use your card at any ATM in the world with that symbol on it. Not every bank you see in your travels will use it, but these days there are few countries left that don't have at least one bank that use them. I've used debit cards from Canada, Hong Kong, Britain, NZ, and Australia in the regions that you've mentioned, and have always successfully withdrawn money.
Some would argue that the fees involved in withdrawing from your home bank account make it not the best option. I guess that depends on what bank you use, and you would be wise to check with your bank to see what the fees are. But for me, the ease of withdrawing money and not having to worry about exchanges, or setting things up before I leave, makes it worth it. Generally, fees are charged per transaction, so you can save money by always taking out the max to limit transactions.

But, even if you rely on debit for most of your money, it's always good to have a back up. I usually carry debit cards from 2 or 3 banks and keep then in different place - One in my money pouch under my shirt, one in the spine of my backpack, and one in my camera bag. I do the same with a couple credit cards, which I hardly ever use, but are good for emergencies. A little bit of US, Euros, and Pounds cash is wise, and hide it somewhere. I used to carry travellers checks, but over the years I've found them just a waste of time and I've rarely had to use them.

I don't know anything about the pre-paid travelex cards, but i would find out what the fees are and see if they compare to debit.

3. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1342 posts) 26 Sep '12 10:07

Really great overview by Degolasse.

Basically I do the same as he suggested... debit cards cover almost everything, then a couple of credit cards for large purchases and some cash of course for emergencies.

Research UK debit cards... there are a couple that still don't charge for foreign transactions. I believe one of them is the Post Office card.

Have fun.

Cheers,
Terry

4. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1342 posts) 26 Sep '12 10:10

Also, have a read through this...

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money

Cheers
Terry

5. Posted by YorkieGirl (Budding Member, 58 posts) 26 Sep '12 14:37

iv heard fairfax is a good card which is like a card you top up and then use at cashpoints around the world. But im not famillier with it as its been recomennded to me by my mums friends who went travelling new zealand, australia and america for 6 months.

6. Posted by Chelsandliam (Respected Member, 2 posts) 27 Sep '12 05:12

Thank you for your posts. We have looked into Debit Cards that don’t charge to use abroad and Norwich and Peterborough seem to be the only one suitable so we are going to look into opening a gold light account with these.

They don’t change for withdrawals or transactions and you just have to make at least five transactions a month otherwise they charge you a free of £5 which we will easily be doing.

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru, 2457 posts) 4 Oct '12 12:50

Five simple extra comments:

1) Always ensure that you tell your bank that you are going away and will be moving around allot, so they won't cancel a card used abroad.
2) Make sure you know the pin number, and you have a 4 digit pin number.
3) Make sure you have at least one card which is VISA and one which is MASTERCARD. In less developed countries, certain areas/countries only have access to one network or the other...
4) Possibly the most important. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON*T KEEP ALL YOUR CARDS TOGETHER!!!! it is amazing how many people do that and then when their wallet is stolen, they are ******. Keep a card well hidden in your bags, and never tell/show anybody where it is.
5) Always Have some emergency cash. US Dollars are best, and a combination of smaller notes and a few big 50/100s. Again. Don't keep them all together. Always have a little cash on you, in 5-10-20s (especially when crossing borders/going into remote areas without local cash), and keep a couple of larger bills hidden well in your bag(s) for emergency use/areas you can't get any other cash.

In terms of debit/credit/prepay, it is generally personal choice. I normally have all 3 (in terms of prepay, both Fairfx and Caxton, for different reasons, and i've never any problems with either). Look into which of them are cheapest for (a) withdrawals and (b) purchases. Any foreign card can be horribly expensive if you don't understand the charges involved.

Credit cards are normally safest in terms of if the card gets lost/scammed, you are more likely to get your money back, and obviously Prepay cards you can only lose how much you have on the card (and again, they are easy to cancel). Debit cards can be trickier to get your money back if you do get scammed/loose your card, and i cetainly would recommend not having all of your money in an account linked to the debit card you use.

If you do use a debit card i recommend only keeping smaller amounts in it, and use free online bank transfer to keep it topped up from a different account (and one which you don't take the card on your travels with you)

9. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru, 2457 posts) 4 Oct '12 12:51

There are numerous options, and no 'right' answer. Different people find different things work best for them on specific trips. So i will just give five simple general comments:

1) Always ensure that you tell your bank that you are going away and will be moving around allot, so they won't cancel a card used abroad.
2) Make sure you know the pin number, and you have a 4 digit pin number.
3) Make sure you have at least one card which is VISA and one which is MASTERCARD. In less developed countries, certain areas/countries only have access to one network or the other...
4) Possibly the most important. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON*T KEEP ALL YOUR CARDS TOGETHER!!!! it is amazing how many people do that and then when their wallet is stolen, they are ******. Keep a card well hidden in your bags, and never tell/show anybody where it is.
5) Always Have some emergency cash. US Dollars are best, and a combination of smaller notes and a few big 50/100s. Again. Don't keep them all together. Always have a little cash on you, in 5-10-20s (especially when crossing borders/going into remote areas without local cash), and keep a couple of larger bills hidden well in your bag(s) for emergency use/areas you can't get any other cash.

In terms of debit/credit/prepay, it is generally personal choice. I normally have all 3 (in terms of prepay, both Fairfx and Caxton, for different reasons, and i've never any problems with either). Look into which of them are cheapest for (a) withdrawals and (b) purchases. Any foreign card can be horribly expensive if you don't understand the charges involved.

Credit cards are normally safest in terms of if the card gets lost/scammed, you are more likely to get your money back, and obviously Prepay cards you can only lose how much you have on the card (and again, they are easy to cancel). Debit cards can be trickier to get your money back if you do get scammed/loose your card, and i cetainly would recommend not having all of your money in an account linked to the debit card you use.

If you do use a debit card i recommend only keeping smaller amounts in it, and use free online bank transfer to keep it topped up from a different account (and one which you don't take the card on your travels with you)

Post 10 was removed by a moderator