Skip Navigation

Best method of using/getting money whilst travelling

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Best method of using/getting money whilst travelling

  • 1
  • 2
Last Post
1. Posted by Beckshew (Budding Member 4 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi Guys,

I'm heading out for a round the world trip in 8 weeks and still unsure the best way to use money whilst away.

What do people do, go to exchange stores to get local currency or use the ATMS?

Would love some advice on this.



2. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

The best way to handle your money without a doubt, is using debit and credit cards. The question then is WHICH cards since not all are created equal. Depending on what country you live in, there may or may not be cards available to you that charge no fees and add no exchange loading. So you need to tell us what country you live in to begin with.

3. Posted by Mattfozz27 (Budding Member 49 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

if your from uk becky, have a look at money cards on

looking at getting 1 myself for when i go later this year

they are good in case you lose or have issues with your debit card, and most are often cheaper for withdrawals and fees compared to uk debit/credit cards

you can easily transfer money onto them as and when you need it, so say £300 at a time.

something to think about anyway

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Apr-2016, at 10:50 by Mattfozz27 ]

4. Posted by Beckshew (Budding Member 4 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Oldpro I'm from the UK.

Matt thank you for this, I'll have a look tonight. STA offer a money card which I thought was great because it could be topped up by people at home amongst other perks but turns out it's just for students. If there's a thing that exists for us oldies (well, 24) then that would be ideal.



5. Posted by Mattfozz27 (Budding Member 49 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

no problem

these money cards are available to us (im 32)

i would have a look through them and see which is best. make sure you go to the site of the card and check the small print etc just in case

6. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 106 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

We always use credit cards. There are ATMs virtually everywhere these days, and and if you buy something on the card, it has extra insurance protection. We carry a few, so that we cover both MasterCard and Visa, as not everywhere accepts both, and a spare that is hidden away in case of loss / theft etc.

As Oldpro said, do shop around for the best card available, to avoid overseas transaction or conversion fees. We have found some of the best to be Sainsburys, Nationwide, Post Office and Halifax, but that may have changed by now, we haven't had to change cards for a while.

If you take any currency with you, then usually dollars are best (though it can be different in some countries), but make sure that they are in perfect condition. Many countries are incredibly fussy about the notes they will take, refusing even a small tear or pen mark. Also, some countries won't take USD with the serial numbers starting with certain letters. Best to check up before relying on it, as we know a few people who have come unstuck that way.

7. Posted by Andyf (Moderator 925 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I'd warn against using debit or credit cards for making payments - every time you use one it's putting yourself at risk of fraud.

My own preferred way is to load some money onto prepaid debit cards and use them to get cash at an atm. I can top up the prepaid card online without needing to carry my current account debit card with me travelling.

I like to split my money 3 ways for security. So 3 cards each with some cash. One is a daily wallet, so I'm not bringing out too much. The 2nd is my main wallet with most of the cash, the 3rd is an emergency stash. With them I've 2 debit cards and a credit card.

It does pay to shop around for cards with lower charges. Particularly beware credit cards which begin charging interest immediately for withdrawing cash. Oh and minimise fees by withdrawing the max each time, which also reduces the number of times you take a risk standing at an atm.

I suggest for looking for card bargains.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Apr-2016, at 00:42 by Andyf ]

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

These are good suggestions. You'll need to carry some cash as some places don't have ATMS, or don't accept credit or debit cards. U.S. dollars are the preferred medium of exchange in many places. But in some regions, such as West Africa, euros are preferred.

It's better to carry a VISA credit and debit card since they are accepted in far more places than MasterCard.

You'll need to do some homework as you move from country to country. For example, ATMs are expensive to use in Argentina, where most machines dispense a maximum 2000 pesos, usually in 100 peso notes (there is no larger denomination). Since the new government took over, there's no need for a parallel "blue dollar" rate. So 2000 pesos is equivalent to US$136 at the current exchange rate of 14.7 pesos to US$1. But ATMs generally charge a fee of 88 pesos, or about US$6, for each transaction. What to do? If you need a larger amount of pesos, a merchant might be willing to exchange pesos for dollars. Shop around, particularly if you're exchanging larger sums. Don't fret if it's a small amount.

Please note that some airports have exclusive contracts with exchange firms such as Travelex. So you won't find any bank ATMs around. It might be better to pay for transportation into town with a credit card, then go to a nearby bank to use your debit card.

At other airports, ask where the ATMs are located. In the Johannesburg airport, the money changers are just outside the baggage claim/customs area. The banks and their ATMS are in the mall above (take the escalator).

Some banks charge smaller withdrawal fees than others. In New Zealand, I found BNZ better than ANZ. In Chile, Scotia Bank was better than Banco Santander. The giant multinationals generally charge higher fees than smaller banks. If the ATM only dispenses large notes, go inside the bank branch to get some smaller notes from a helpful teller. For security reasons, it's best to withdraw cash from ATMs at bank offices.

Finally, don't dawdle when using ATMS, or the machine might "eat" your card. Figure out how much you want to withdraw in advance. Ask what the maximum account the ATM will dispense for each transaction. Get the latest exchange rate from Web sites such as Don't forget to notify your bank that you will be using your credit and debit card overseas, otherwise the transactions are likely to be blocked. Double check before leaving.

Best wishes for your trip around the world!

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Apr-2016, at 18:11 by berner256 ]

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

One more thing. Also be aware of dynamic currency conversion. This link explains it:

Especially when paying for accommodations, I always try to make sure before the transaction takes place that payment will be made in that country's currency, not in U.S. dollars (I'm an American). While the merchant is supposed to let you know what the options are, sometimes they don't. That was the case at the I-Site tourism office in Auckland, New Zealand, where the representative automatically put through the purchase of travel arrangements with dynamic currency conversion without asking me. Since it was cumbersome to reverse the transaction (necessitating a phone call to the bank...and being put on hold), and with people in line to be served, I let the transaction stand. A subsequent purchase at the I-Site office was made without dynamic currency conversion, through another bank that the tourism office also uses.

10. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

GROAN, here we go again. The blind attempting to lead the blind.

Please read this carefully Beckshew. The BEST way to handle your money when travelling is using the RIGHT debit and credit cards.

Now read this carefully. Prepaid cards are NOT the best way, they ALWAYS cost you more than the RIGHT debit and credit cards. They are for those who cannot get the right debit and credit cards. For example, those who cannot get the right debit/credit cards due to a low credit rating or students with no credit rating to speak of at all or even those who if given a credit card cannot control their own spending.

As a Brit, you have access to an excellent website on this subject. not only covers all of this in detailed but simple English, it is regularly updated to show the latest BEST cards to get.

Read here first:

For those who have no choice but to use a prepaid card, MSE also covers that subject as far as which are the best for a traveller from the UK to use.
Read here:

Note the very first sentence: "Before you pick a prepaid card, it's worth checking out the other options. Travel credit cards give you better rates than you'll get on these cards. "

Prepaid card issuers have done a very good job of marketing their cards to the average consumer. In fact, most of what they claim as 'pluses' are nonsense and they ALWAYS cost you more than the best debit/credit cards. Since this is about MONEY, the only thing I need to know is they cost more and provide NO advantage to me as someone who can qualify for and get the best debit/credit cards and am able to control my own spending psychologically.

A great deal of misinformation however well intended gets written every time this topic is asked on a travel forum. Some of that can be found above already.

Berner, re Visa vs. MasterCard, while it is true you may find more of one than another in any given area, always use a MC over a Visa where available. The MasterCard exchange rate invariably beats the Visa rate. Not many people are aware of that.

I have more or less lived off my debit/credit cards for the last 26 years. Cards from different banks in different countries used to access my funds in yet other countries again. This is as a result of having been travelling or living in one country while banking in another country over those 26 years. Consequently, what is the best way to handle accessing funds in another country is something I deal with EVERY single day. So as you might imagine, it is a subject I have spent a great deal of time on researching and constantly keeping up to date on.

The BEST way to access your money when travelling is with the RIGHT debit and credit cards.