When you even think about packing your credit card or travellers cheques for holidays or business trips safety should be your number one concern, not only from street robberies at your destination but from online and card not present fraud. Make sure you write down all those help and security lines from your bank and credit cards. 60% of all the credit card fraud hot spots in the U.K are now petrol stations, 40% of all the countries credit card fraud taking place there, the transient nature of the victims why they are targeted in forecourts. It's a similar tale abroad. Police believe a vast amount of fraud in the UK now emanates from abroad, where you are going, and so why you have to be on your guard. One of the most purchased items through online fraud I the U.K is now a 'bed', believe it or not, the first thing they need when they arrive to settle in for their scams, according to the BBC NEWS website on the same subject. Some of you may have seen that in the news reports last week. But as internet fraud is not that relevant to this review unless you are booking holidays or related accommodation online I will leave that subject for another day. I personally would NEVER book a flight or accommodation online. http://www.forecourttrader.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/1716/Crimebynumbers.html So guys, before you set out on holiday its best to bare the above in mind if your credit card will be your primary source of cash on your holidays - be careful at our garages! I would definitely pay cash before you leave the U.K. What they do is train cameras in the garage onto the keypad and record your pin number. They then clone it later and empty your account. They don't do little amounts as the point is you are on the move and not checking your accounts and so unable to react, especially if you have to deal with the fraud on your holidays. As we know, banks love to mess you about over credit card fraud and are unwilling to pay your money back in some cases until along drawn out process ends. You dont want to get your card cloned abroad! Your account maybe empty before you even get to your destination! You can't avoid those gas stations so try and pay cash for fuel when abroad. When you're here in the U.K then at least you can deal with that problem easier so something not to worry about as much. The criminals in question are able to copy the magnetic strip data on cards to create clones that can be used in countries that haven't upgraded to Chip & Pin, one of the biggest ironies of introducing tougher antifraud measures here. Obviously when you use your card abroad it's the same deal. In 2008 this has caused an increase in fraud-abroad losses - up 43% to £218m last year, while counterfeit (skimmed/cloned) card fraud also rose 3% last year to £156.6m. Cash points abroad are the next best place to target locals and tourists alike when you use your visa. Consider this hard when choosing your card as your primary cash source abroad. Some of you may have seen the quite startling documentary last week on the Romanian gypsy communities who blitz the cash points and pick pocket the tourists in big cities like Milan and Madrid. It was quite blatant stuff, often just kids lunging at the cash as it came out of the machine, customers literally having to fight them off. Because children can't be prosecuted in these cities they flood in to do this crime, sent by their controllers and parents and make a right fortune for those criminal families and handlers. In some of the rougher Romani communities the girls are coerced to marry very young and a good bride is one that can steal well, as quoted in the documentary by the Romanian journalists. Again it was amazing to watch so check out the link below. These attacks tend to take place in the city centres and near travel terminus like bus and train stations so be very wary. I was a victim in South Africa twice and once in Northampton so if you're going World Cup (not relevant for Scottish readers) this will be a huge problem. It's just me going on about Johnny Foreigner but the realities of credit card theft and fraud. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/thisworld/8212251.stm Another problem withdrawing cash from abroad as a tourist or on business is that foreign banks will ask for two forms of I.D over the counter, and if the cash machines outside are typically complex to extract visa cash as the instructions are in another language, hidden charges are hard to decipher and so easy to hit you with. If the machine gobbles up your only card then what are you supposed to do to get money out? Stick to English or American banks like Barclays in the big cites if you can. Look for 'Libre' on the whole-in-the-walls as it means free in most languages. I always prefer to get money out with a passport inside the bank because you can't lose your card that way. Again, you don't want your card to get eaten. -Travellers cheques- I never got into these as you are always paying a commission on them. When you buy them from the travel agents or bank they charge commission as they do when you use them abroad and then when you change them back in the U.K. They are safer in the sense you can cancel them pretty quickly if the are stolen and for the more unscrupulous you can claim they were stolen when you were absent minded and lost them and cash in on the insurance. You can't do that with foreign currency and credit cards, even with a police report. -Foreign currency- In the days of credit cards I see no real point in taking more than a hundred quid in foreign currency. You can pull out cash at most cash points on British cards so no big deal so you don't have to carry lots of cash. With foreign currency its double bubble commission again for the banks and exchange back rates are often 15% lower than when you took out the money, often at the same bank. You can't, of course, change foreign coins back to sterling. Cash can go missing after a few too many beers on the town through your own stupidity or if you leave it out in your hotel room, the most likely place for holiday makers to suffer theft according to the Lonely Planet people. When I worked in hotels in South Africa and America that was certainly the case, the maids and porters having somewhat sticky fingers, especially if guests didn't tip big, allsorts going missing from bedside tables, even when guests were in the shower. Unfortunately some poor people from likewise countries don't see tourists as their nation's main source of a decent economy but targets to pilfer. -Other issues- Holiday makers are at their most vulnerable to scams when leaving foreign countries, hotels and airports well aware you are in a hurry so love levying surcharges and taxes on your credit cards when you're not expecting it and so probably never challenging it. One the Spanish love is the check-in desk scam. I used to drive backpackers to the airport and warn them about the access weight one in South Africa where they had their own version of the scam. If you have a return flight the baggage allowance going out is usually bigger than coming back, this in the smallest of small print. They know you will stuff your cases with dirty laundry and souvenirs on the return and wont take kindly to having to open it up when they announce you are ten kilos over and so have to pay another two hundred Euros for extra weight or you can't board their plane, effectively blackmail. You don't want a sex aid to go flying across the counter as you decide what to bin and what to salvage to bring down the weight so you usually give in. They know you want usually contest the weight you declare and it's soon banged on to the credit card just to get home. So for me its credit card in the wallet and bum bag around the waste for documents and insurance polices etc. I never use traveller's cheques and carry no more than £50 bucks in local currency. Sadly you are a walking bank to some in foreign lands and so a target. Watch your back guys, especially in recession.
For those talking about the Travellers Cheque Card by AM, it was obviously not a very good Idea, as after loading £2000 onto mine, i was unable to use at all abroad. I had to get my money back in the UK for which i was also charged. Thankfully they were given such bad reviews that they have now CEASED to be. They never did refund my last £50 either, EVEN after 5 letters and a million phone calls, SO, my advice, stick with a pre-paid mastercard WHICH actually work out cheaper than using most major high st banks debit cards including, lloyds, halifax, abbey, rbs and natwest There is a particular pre-paid master-card that charges NO FEEs for using it abroad and just one small fee for getting cash BUT only charges that in the uk! Do your homework and you will love it, i found it by using comparison website. Good luck
Going on Holiday? Well after three years of UK holidays, last year I looked into a 2009 holiday abroad and this would be the big holiday that I was waiting for - This year is my first trip to Orlando and the first time I have ventured to buy Dollars. Now normally I would divide my money between cash and travellers cheques. This year I discovered that I could put money on a pre-paid card and use this card instead of travellers cheques. Now I am very well capable with all things internet but I was amazed that I could have something like this, and so simple at the same time. The first time I heard of FairFX was when I spent every day for the last month checking the falling dollar rate, So my other half read up on what the FairFX card was, and offers the best online Dollar rate around. FairFX is a pre-paid Mastercard, that is available to everyone. The company itself takes out the fact that us, the customer, have to go to the exchange bureaus in the towns so they can offer the best exchange rates that beat the exchange bureaus and that you can buy online at any time of day. When you order you FairFX card online they promise it to be delivered within seven to ten days, but my card came four days after purchase which is great customer service and this really impressed me for someone who was new to having a card that I could use abroad. I put $200 dollars on the card and had to pay £9.95 for the card to be delivered, but this is one condition that if you do spend over £500 then you get the card delivered for free, But I really did not mind paying the price because at the time the dollar rate was dropping every day and they offered the best but I could not afford to spend £500 at that time. I do not regret paying the fee at all either because I had a rate of over 1.60 when I bought, and ten pounds extra rather than have to wait until I had over the required sum and have the rate drop. Once you have received your card in the post you have to then activate the card on the website which is really simple to do and quite a quick process. Since activating my pre-paid card I have logged onto the website every day to check the dollar rate, and have since bought more dollars which is also really easy to do, you simply can either choose say if you want to put £100 on the card it will tell you how many dollars you will receive or you can say that you want $100 and then they will tell you how much it will cost in pounds, then once you have chosen how much you are happy they ask you to sign in, and select the card you wish to put dollars onto (you can have more than one card at a time) and then you just simply enter the details of the card that you wish to pay on and then, well, that is it. You the receive a confirmation by email that everything has gone smoothly and the money has been added on to the card, and you can check this online too on your FairFX account. You also do not pay another fee when putting money onto the card each time. You can put on your card up to £2,500 each time FairFX also set out very simple guide lines on how to use their card. Wherever you see the MasterCard sign in America, you can use the card there. You can only make a total of three ATM withdrawals each day and only ten within four days. Your card will be locked if you withdraw more than this amount per day, so it is advised to take the cash out that you need rather than bits of money here and there, which is understandable. You do also get charged for each time you withdraw money at $2 at a time (this does not include the amount that the ATM charge you also) When on holiday they put a limit to how much you can spend a day, which is great just in case you lose your card or if the worst happens and someone reports it and you have more than that amount on the card. The amount that you can spend a day is £3000 that you can withdraw with your own pin like the chip and pin system that we have in the UK and the total amount that you can have on one card at each time is $10,000. Overall, this is a fantastic card that is an alternative to buying travellers cheques to take on holidays, It not only offers Dollars but also Euros.It is easy to pre-load with the amount that you require with the best rates online and from the bureaus themselves. When you come home you can withdraw your cash from the ATM that you, or if you are returning again on holidays the card lasts for three years so you can put money on when and as you need to. Would highly recommend this as a fantastic alternative to travellers cheques or other forms of payments.
When I have gone through all of the trouble of actually deciding when and where to go on holiday, the next big decision in my opinion is exactly how you are going to get your spending money over there and in what form. There are a few ways in which you can keep your money and I will go through the pros and cons of each of them and then give you an insight into what I do with money on holiday. So what are the ways you can take money with you on holiday? Well the first and perhaps the most obvious way is to take cash in the required foreign currency. Now cash is a vital part of any holiday and it is always useful to just convert all the money you need into cash, take it with you and then just take as much as you need each day. The problem with taking money is that you de leave yourself feeling vulnerable (well I do anyway). The problem with cash I always find is that it is easy to lose, to rip and worse of all it is the easiest thing for thieves to target you for. Lets have a look at the pros and cons of taking cash as your only source of money whilst on holiday: Pros: * Easily accessible well your money is there with you straight away. * No fussing what I mean by this is that you do not have to look around to get your money so you do not have to worry about finding a cash machine for example or exchange bureau. * Widely accepted with the foreign currency you know that it will be accepted everywhere and that you will have no problems paying for anything. Cons: * Target for thieves people generally take a lot of foreign currency with them on holiday and you are not sure how secure your accommodation is going to be. If people notice that you have got a lot of cash then you could get targeted by thieves as they can then just take the cash and away they go. * Not replaceable if you lose any of your cash you are stuck and without money so you have to be so careful to know where it is and how much you have at all times. The next type of holiday money is the travellers cheque option which is very popular. With travellers cheques it is basically like having cash but it is a bit more secure. Each travellers cheque has a number and you have to cash them at the nearest place available which the accommodation where you are staying should offer this service. What you do is when you book your holiday and are ordering your foreign currency you ask for it to be given to you in the form of travellers cheques and they will hand you them. They are just slips of paper and then you cash them in and you will still have to pay the exchange rate so there is no getting away with it. Lets look at the pros and cons. Pros: * Safer than cash with travellers cheques you do not feel as vulnerable as you do with a load of cash so I like that I feel safer. * Easily replaceable if for some reason your cheques are misplaced or stolen then you can get them replaced and usually it is done pretty quickly. While we were on holiday and lost one ours was replaced within the day so we were quite pleased. Cons: * Easily disregarded ok this may just be me but when I have travellers cheques I do not look after them enough because they do not seem like money. Like I said that may just be me though. * Getting them cashed I hate this process and sometimes when you have to wait in a queue to get them cashed and it is taking a long time it annoys you as you are supposed to be on your holiday. The final way to ensure you have money abroad is to use your credit or debit card or basically any card that will be accepted abroad. There are usually cash machines where you can get your money out and many places will accept cards such as Visa to pay for products. Pros: * Amount of money the good thing about taking your card is that you are not limited to how much money you can get out so more to spend spend and spend. * Accepted if you have a Visa card then it is likely to get accepted in most places so you can have piece of mind as you can put many things on your card. Cons: * Not accepted I know that many places accept it but make sure you check before you go. I know that my card is not accepted widely abroad so it would be no good taking it. * Charges in some countries and places you may be asked to pay a charge to withdraw money out or pay on your card. This charge may be up to about £3 so it is worth looking out for. Conclusion: Ok so I think it is only fair to let you know what I do with regards to money on holiday. Well what I choose to do is to take a mixture of them all. A couple of years ago I went away with my boyfriend and we took around ¾ of our spending money in travellers cheques and the rest in cash. My boyfriend also took his credit card as after a bit of research I found out that there was no point in taking mine as nowhere would accept it. When we got to our accommodation we made sure we paid for the safe so that we could keep our money safe and we mentally split how much we were going to have to spend each day. What we would do is always make sure we cashed the travellers cheques the day we needed them so that we could do it when the hotel desk was quiet as there was minimum queuing and we were not wasting any of our holiday waiting around. As I think most people do though we overspent and by the end of the holiday we found out we had no money and one last full day to spend there and then a wait in the airport. It was at this point that we were glad we had took a credit card as it allowed us to get some more money out straight away although we did have to pay a charge of around £3 to take the money out. I think that it is unsafe to take just one form of money and you are better off taking a selection. I also think to give you piece of mind it is useful to splityour money up so that while you are travelling it is kept in a variety of different places. This way at least if you get some stolen then you will not have it all taken. How to take your money abroad is an individual preference but I like to cover all angles. Thanks for reading. xxx
The best way now to take money abroad in my opinion is to take it in a Travellers Cheque Card. Which combines Travellers cheques, currency, and credit cards. So really you should not need anything else. If you've haven't heard of this yet don't worry as it was only introduced at the beginning of the year. It's already becoming very popular though. I myself am a travel agent and sell these cards, so I have had tons of knowledge shoved into my brain so i can "sell" the benifits of the card. Not only that but I have taken and used the card abroad myself. ----What is it?---- The one that I used and sell is issued by american express,who are also a credit card issuer as well. You know that they're a trusted brand so thats why I felt safer using it myself. This is a card that you pre load with euros or dollars depending where you are going. This can be done either at a travel agents or online. you put in how much sterling you want and they'll transfer it into the relevant currency for you on that card at the days rate. you can load a minimum of £200 on it up to £3000. You will be asked other bits of information so they can run a credit check against you and once confirmed the card will be posted to your home address in 3 to 5 business days. ~~~~ So how do we use it?----- this can be used in the atm's that accept american express cards in the usa this is 100% in parts of europe it can go down to 77% of atms that accept this card. Still this is quite a high percentage. When you recived your card you would have been issued with a pin. So you use your card at the cash machines to draw euros/ or dollars depending where you are. There is only one disadvantage to this, they do charge 2 euros/dollars to withdraw cash, so the more you withdraw at one time the better it works out for you. You can also use it in shops and restaurants, although its always best first to check first before eating a meal and trying to settle a bill with a card they don't accept. As you can see you should feel a lot safer as you won't be carring lots of cash around, and you don't have to sign over and over and over again everytime you need some money like travellers cheques. ~~~~~Why is this method better~~~~~ Because they are issued by american express they offer the same protection as when you purchase travellers cheques. If the card is lost or stolen it gets replaced (with the money) within 24 hours. The money on the card is not linked to a bank account so its safer and secure. You also get with the card passport replacement advice and assistance. You don't need to worry about using it in a cash machine as everywhere you go they will have an english option. The other benifit of using this is you don't get charged commision like you can with travellers cheques, and you get a fixed exchange rate (the rate it was when you first loaded your card). ~~~~So what are the disadvantages~~~~~ Surprisingly for a new product there are only a few, one i've mentioned before the charge they make when you withdraw your money. the other one is usually it costs £20 to buy this card in the first place although american express have been doing a promotion this year so far where you can get the card for free. In some places like shops and restaurants especially the smaller ones they don't reconise the card, so although they can take it they are afraid to as its a new product that they haven't seen before, although as the year has got on this is becoming less of a problem as there are so many in use now. To sum it up these should have been invented eariler to save us the hassle I love them and will never be taking travellers cheques again if these cards are still around. It also means that if I am absent minded and loose my card i don't need to worry as i know that i can get my money back and that no one can get to my details... get one for your next trip
What is the best way to take money abroad? Good question, I guess it depends on where you are going, how long for and how you feel about carrying cash. The three options are as follows travellers cheques, debit/credit cards and cash each has both advantages and disadvantages. Travellers Cheques A trusty option, if you lose them or have them stolen you can get them replaced and widely accepted but they also have disadvantages including high commission charges for both buying and selling. Personally I dont like travellers cheques, for two reasons. Firstly I dont like paying the charges for buying the cheques in the first place and then having to pay commission to cash them. The rates differ depending where you go so its worth shopping around. The second reason is that Ive had problems using them, whether its the long queues in the bank, the language problems when you get to the teller or the fact that my signature seems to look different each day. Debit/Credit cards Drawing cash on the old plastic card is easy and convenient, you can get cash as and when you want it. Also by using your card to pay for hotels or trips etc means you dont need to carry large amounts of cash on you. This convenience comes at a price, and Im not talking about the interest charges, depending on your account you might be charged a conversion fee and a foreign ATM charge. If you are going to use you cards a lot its worth looking for an account that has fewer charges, Nationwide has an account that doesnt charge for overseas withdrawals and I guess other banks do too. Most cards also offer some kind of insurance on purchases, which can be useful. A big drawback of debit/credit cards are the charges from the merchants, Ive seen charges ranging from 2% to 10% added to purchases. Quite often its cheap to draw cash off the card rather than pay the merchants credit card charges. Cash The third option is to carry cash, how much you carry depends on how safe you feel with large amounts of cash on you and I guess it also depends where you are going. If you decide to take cash you then have the decision as to which currency, I guess the three major currencies are US dollars, Euros and Sterling with the option of local currency as well if its different to one of these. Which you take really depend where you are going too, parts of South America and Asia use the US dollar as a second currency, in other areas the British pound is more widely accepted and now the Euro is widely accepted too. A disadvantage of cash is most insurance policies not cover you for large amounts, also if taking US dollars make sure you get notes that arent ripped or marked. So whats the best option? Well that depends where you are going to and for how long, if Im going for a week or two I take some cash a mixture of local currency and Sterling and use my card to draw out as and when I need more. When I travel for longer I take maybe £100 in travellers cheques as an emergency option, then a mixture of local currency and US dollars with my cards as back up to draw extra from. This mixture worked well while travelling through Asia, I arrived with US dollars and some Thai Baht and withdrew cash as a needed it. Generally I would draw what I needed for a week and split the money between my wife and I, putting it in money belts or at times in my shoes. We carried travellers cheques but never actually used them, just had them there if we needed them. As we were relying on our debit card to draw money we took cards from two accounts just in case one was lost or stolen, I would have one on me and my wife have the other. In 8 months of travelling the only place we had difficulty drawing cash was in Laos, there is only 3 ATMs in the capital and none took overseas cards, we ended up going to a bank to draw cash and only being able to draw local currency. I dont remember the exchange rate but I came away with a very large wad of notes and was a millionaire several times over! Another think to remember with local currency is dont have too much left at the end of your stay travel through several countries and you soon end up with a nice collection of notes and coins that you havent changed. My recommendation is a mixture of all 3, mainly taking cash and debit/credit cards with some travellers cheques as an emergency backup, this works for me but maybe you have a different opinion.
Answer. My preference is for none of the above. Next question? Seriously, I used to be a stickler for always taking travellers cheques. You can see the benefits. They can be used as cash (in theory) and changed for cash but also have an extra insurance policy that means, if stolen, they can be replaced almost immediately (assuming you took good care of them and took a note of the serial numbers.) This is sensible if youre travelling alone. If youre travelling with a partner, chances are if youre bag got snatched, your partners wouldnt so you could cope for a while without them. The big disadvantages with travellers cheques are, you have to change them. Whatever the manufacturers say, Ive not known a single place (in the many countries Ive travelled to) which will allow you to use them as cash, even if the travellers cheques are in a local currency (or one which they would accept readily in cash). So, getting back to changing them. Normally Ive found at least £2 is levied in a changing fee when you change them abroad, even if the travellers cheques are in local currency (even more if theyre not). Add that to the changing fees and any exchange rate fees in the UK and they suddenly turn out to be a pretty expensive option. So, theyre money with an insurance policy (but read the fine print) but you are paying for it. Oh, and the other thing is if you do take travellers cheques, you have to sign them as you buy them. I once went travelling for ages and bought £2k worth and had to sign them all in Midland Bank Credit Cards These have an inbuilt free insurance policy if your straw donkey doesnt last the flight home but be warned that fees for use abroad vary widely, insurance often has a minimum price and exchange rates can vary. Also be cautious of cash advances (getting money out of an ATM on your credit card). On most cards, this will be subject to a fee as well as incurring interest from day 1. Cash Ask yourself. How many times would you walk around in the UK with £100 in your pocket? Never? So why do some people take all their holiday money in cash? You can get mugged abroad just as easily as at home. That said, I always use some cash. You cant get on buses, use trains, and buy a coffee without it so I always change between £20 and £50 before I leave for immediate expenses when I arrive. Even if you cant change into the local currency before you leave (like India), its worth taking some Dollars in change. Almost universally accepted. Cash / Debit Card This is my current preference. Its wise to research at the place youre going to, in some places (the Himalayas?!) a bit of plastic wont do you any good but just about anywhere else in the world there are ATMs. Why is this my preferred method? Well its convenient and actually fairly cheap. My bank (First Direct) charge me £1.50 to £1.75 a time to withdraw money, but heres the killer, the exchange rate is always way better than that available in the banks. ATMs are available 24 hours as well so youre not tied to going to the bank when youd rather be sunbathing or seeing the sights. Using Maestro (Debit card) abroad is also really easy and competitive in terms of price. If you plan to do this though, Id shop around the banks. You need a card with the Cirrus mark on it to withdraw cash but also some banks offer free withdrawals abroad. I've used this from India to Greece, from the Czech Republic to New Zealand. Simple. In summary, I take a debit card, take a small amount of cash, if Im going travelling for long Id take a credit card as back up and only if Im really twitchy will I take travellers cheques (but it would be an absolute last resort).
The simple answer to how to take money on holiday is: you need all three. Cash, travellers cheques and credit cards. The trick is to get the correct proportions of each. First of all, always take a credit card on holiday with you, as many hotels and car hire firms will simply not serve you without one, or demand a huge cash deposit that you will probably not be able to meet. However, try and avoid using your credit card as much as possible, as you will stung with conversion charges and other charges. And in particular, always avoid using a credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, as you will pay a cash handling fee as well, and be charged very high rates of interest from the moment you withdraw. But it's reassuring to know it is there anyway. Always take a small amount of cash with you to pay for a taxi from the airport and for odds and ends until you can cash in some travellers cheques. But do not take too much, as unlike travellers cheques, there is little you can do if you lose cash, or cash is stolen. (Sure you can claim on your insurance, but you will pay an excess, and have to wait till you get home). This leaves us with travellers cheques which should always be the bulk of the money you take. Many countries, e.g. Canada allow you to spend travellers cheques as if they were cash in most shops, restaurants, garages etc. So therefore, do not cash in cheques until they are needed (so that they are protected against theft for max. poss. time), use travellers cheques as cash if the country allows it (you will get change as if you paid with cash, but remember you need I.D. e.g. passport). Always keep a close tally on which cheques you spend where, ticking them off atr the end of the day. Never carry your cheques in the same pocket as your passport, and ask for low-denomination cheques, as shops will be unlikely to take large denomination cheques as cash. Enjoy spending it!
The easiest way by far these days seems to be taking your trusty bit of plastic. Very versatile, you can withdraw your money from holes-in-the-wall as if you've never even left home. All you have to do is remember your pin! You can also use it to pay for your purchases or your room, providing that the sign on your card is recognised at the place... as Visa usually is. Credit Cards ------------- My personal choice is to take more than one credit card with me. If you're going for longer than your interest-free period on your credit card, see if you can pay it by direct debit. Or even better, don't use a credit card, use a debit one instead. I'd always take more than one bit of plastic, with them stored in a different pocket, bag, or day locker. The reasoning behind this is so that if you lose one, ring home and cancel it, and then you have another one or three to use. Cancelling a card from abroad can be a pain I imagine, and so I choose rarely to use the cards, just carry them for a backup. Things to watch for... - I've heard that the exchange rates that you get can vary depending on your card that you use, but I can't vouch for this. What I can vouch for is paying a deposit on a card, then getting it back. It may be the same amount in a foreign currency, but you may not get the same home currency back. - One particular place you may have to watch using plastic is in not-so-reputable places. Keep your eye on your card, only let them swipe it the once and don't let them disappear with it so they can generate more than one slip to process at a later date when you're not paying so much attention to your bill. This is probably the main reason why I don't use plastic when I'm abroad. - Always have enough cash withdrawn to get you by for at least a day or two. I bumped into some travellers from Canada that couldn't get any cash due to a bad connection back Canada or something. Might have had something to do with Sept 11, but I'm only guessing. You may run the risk of not coming by a working hole-in-the-wall for a while in that case. Foreign Cash ------------- I never change money before I go abroad. If I'm fortunate to have some money left over from the last time I went, then I will. Keep your eyes on exchange rates though as soon as you know you're going. You can get real lucky and get ~10% extra for your money. I do carry some US and UK cash with me at all times, just in case though. Travellers' Cheques -------------------- This is my prime source of money when I go abroad. I always take enough to cater comfortably during my travels, plus a bit extra to buy a plane ticket home (you never know what can happen to airline companies these days). I can always get my money back commission free as a student, but I believe many places offer to buy back your unused currency for free. The only place you can really lose out here is on commission rates when abroad. Some places will charge more than others, so shop around once you're abroad, again, like foreign cash, you can get ~10% more for your money. Of course, TCs have the advantage that if you lose your cheques altogether, you can get them replaced providing you have made of a note of the cheque numbers. A big advantage on plastic in my opinion. Conclusion ---------- In short, I would say it can't hurt to take all three. Just don't put all your eggs in one basket. If you lose the basket, you could be "stuffed". I would always take most of my money as TCs though.
So, you have your holiday planned and booked, your suitcases ready, enough sun block to protect half the continent, and have finally received your passport from the passport office. All that remains is to sort your hard-saved holiday cash into some form which is accepted abroad. But which one? My personal favourite is missed off the list for this category, and is the humble link card, which many of us possess, but few of us think about when we go abroad. This doesn’t mean to say that traveller’s cheques, foreign currencies and credit cards can’t also be useful; they all have advantages and disadvantages to them. My favourite is the link card because, for my personal circumstances, it has the most advantages; - It doesn’t require a special trip to a bank/bureau de change etc. to use it - You can’t withdraw more money than your bank will allow (so, depending on what kind of account you have, you can’t withdraw more than either your balance or credit limit, meaning that you don’t have to worry so much about over spending while you’re away!) - Most banks (in Europe at least), take these cards in their ATM machines, and display language options so you can even have English instructions on the machine, making withdrawals easy - As you can withdraw from most major foreign banks, you don’t need to have a lot of cash on you at any one time as an ATM is usually fairly nearby should your wallet/purse need refilling! - I have never come across a shop yet that doesn’t take local cash! - Some shops abroad also take Switch/Delta etc., which many Link cards have as an added bonus! - Same security advantages to your card as you have here (i.e. no one can make a withdrawal without your PIN etc.) Of course, there are also disadvantages to this card, such as you have to go to an ATM to get money rather than already having it on you, and the machine you use must be in the LINK network, also most banks do charge you a currency conversion fee for each withdrawal, so although you can take cash out in smaller amounts, it does cost you more to do this than it would to withdraw one large amount as there is a standard minimum fee applied to each transaction. Credit cards have many of the same advantages and disadvantages as link cards, but the major drawback for me with using them is that it is all to easy to spend more than you meant to, and be faced with a big bill (plus interest if you don’t pay it all back quickly) when you get home! Although I guess if you’re rich then this isn’t so much of a problem!! Travellers cheques can be handy for many reasons; they are relatively easy to replace if stolen, are accepted in most major tourist destinations, and are easily available from the high street. They, too, however, have their disadvantages; - Many small local shops/markets(where some of the best bargains are to be found)don’t accept travellers cheques. - The hassle of going to get them (and sometimes have to wait a couple of days for them to be ready) - Sometimes even larger tourist places won’t give you change on travellers cheques (this happened to my friend recently in Spain, where she ended up paying about a fiver for a coffee because the café wouldn’t give change on travellers cheques and this was the smallest denomination that she had) So, we are left with good old fashioned cash to look at! From my own experiences abroad, it is always a good idea to have at least 20 quid or so in the local currency, including some smaller change if you can get it…this is just for all those little expenses that you have on the journey, like buying drinks, toll gates/bridges, and going to the loo….those ever present little old ladies in French loos probably don’t take plastic and would n’t be over impressed with a travellers cheque either! I think most of us know the disadvantages of carrying huge amounts of cash, in this country, never mind anywhere else (!), but a small amount can be indispensable at times. My advice? Take a small amount of local foreign currency in cash (and remember, particularly on car/coach trips, this may mean the currency of more than one country…we went to Germany by coach, and you also need French currency as you usually have a toilet stop in France on the way!), then pick your favourite from the other three methods as your ‘main money’…but, of course, don’t forget to consider the little old link card too!
I have just been round the world, seven months visiting countries as disparate as Thailand, China, New Zealand, Mexico, Cuba and others and my general advise is there are no hard and fast rules. I had to ask this question of several people before going and everyone had a different answer, but I tailored my demands to the fact that I was away seven months. If just visiting one country my advice would be different and have to be tailored to that country. The answer in my opinion is a mix of card, cash and cheques. I left Britain with a few hundred pounds worth of US dollar traveller's cheques. The logic behind this was if they were stolen they could be replaced, and if cash and cards was stolen they could be my back-up. They are also very useful in countries where cards do not work like Cuba, or where machines are in short supply like China. I used my 'switch' card for getting cash out, its Maestro and Cirrus functions mean it is accepted in most machines in most countries. It does cost a certain percentage to take cash out in cash machine fees though, and over seven months this is probably quite a large amount. I felt that the convenience and security in not having to carry more cash than I felt safe with outweighed this though. I have met people who had cards swallowed, lost or stolen and then it depends on your bank how easy they are to replace. This is where your other cards or travellers cheques are used. I also used my visa as often as possible, not to get cash out but to pay for everything I could. Before leaving I set up a third party mandate so my parents could pay my bills from my account, but a direct debit would have been just as easy. The advantage of credit cards is there is no fee and I often get a far better rate on my purchases as credit cards by foreign currency at bulk, and therefore better, rates and pass this onto you (I think). Whatever the reason my bills constantly showed things being c heaper than the cash rates shown indicated it would be. A minor benefit was the points I collected for using my card, which over seven months of travel was a good amount. Again if lost or stolen you should have different backup arrangements. Lastly I took cash - some US dollars and some currency of the first country I went to. This meant I was going to be okay for cash when I arrived at the airport, and also had ready cash to change or in many places spend, as dollars are generally wanted. Countries I went to where extra planning is advisable are places like Japan. A high technology country where the majority of machines don't take foreign issued cards, including visa. This meant carrying enough cash when in rural areas and searching out Citibanks in places like Tokyo. On the flipside it is a country here I felt safer having cash amounts. In Cuba it is better not to use a US issued credit card as they can confiscate the transaction due to there embargo, likewise American Express travellers cheques cannot always be cashed. Other countries have there idiosyncrasies. My last advice would be that whatever form you take your money in, look after it. I met people who had $800 stolen, which they left unattended in the top section of their bag. I always used my money belt or reliable hotel safes and tended never to carry more money in my wallet than I needed that day. Simple precautions help and save hassle if they prevent things going wrong, or minimise the impact if they do. Have fun on holidays, don't obsess about money.
...on where you're going! I've just got back from a quick trip around the world, so I'll share my limited experiences on this subject in the hope they can be of use. Firstly things first - cash: I was very reluctant to take large quantities of cash with me. This made perfect sense at the time (fear of mugging, losing it etc.), but very little now that I think about it. My first stop was Thailand, where I was due to stay for a fortnight. Having budgeted about £200 a week to live on, and in the knowledge that I had to book and internal flight from Bangkok to Ko Samui, I thought it a fantastic idea to take only £50 worth of Thai currency in cash. Obviously, the minute I got to Bangkok airport, booked my flight and contemplated accommodation and food costs, it became obvious I needed a hell of a lot more than £50 even in this most inexpensive of countries. So I had to use a cashpoint, incurring £3 worth of charges. Of course, £3 isn't that much (backpackers don't go mad, I do understand!!) to most people, and many will think the convenience makes it worth shelling out a few quid every once in a while. This was indeed my reasoning before I left, but this shouldn't stop you from taking a reasonable amount of cash with you. Most travel insurance policies cover a decent amount of cash; mine was £200, so if I'd thought about it I could quite easily have taken about £200 worth of Thai Baht with me without really having to worry. As long as you keep the withdrawal receipt you shouldn't have any problem getting it back in the very unlikely (unless you're going somewhere very dodgy) event of being mugged. Just check your policy and make sure you've got the relevant international contact number. Still, it all depends on the country you're visiting and what you're comfortable doing. Personally I wouldn't want to carry around any more than I was insured for, and some may not even be comfo rtable with that amount. Traveller's cheques: From a total budget of just over £1000, I took £500 worth of traveller's cheques with me. I took American Express because I'd heard they are the most widely known and accepted worldwide. From my experience this seems to be true. With hindsight I might have been better to take a larger proportion of my funds in traveller's cheques. My reasoning behind this thrilling observation is thus: Firstly, I was expecting to get poor rates for my traveller's cheques, but this didn't seem to be the case in most of the places I visited. Secondly, in the rural areas I visited, in Thailand and Malaysia, there were no cash machines, but several independent money changers who offered a decent exchange rate. But these were pretty touristy places, Hat Rin on Ko Pha Ngan and Salang on Tioman Island. If you're really going a long way off the beaten track, I wouldn't really have a clue - ask someone who has done the same or check out somewhere like the lonelyplanet.com message boards and guides for advice. In the major cities it is often possible to find an American Express building where you can change your cheques commission free at a competitive rate. It might be worth checking if there is one where you going, but if you can't be bothered it doesn't really matter - there always seems to be somewhere to change traveller's cheques. In Sydney I just looked at the skyline and tracked it down! The obvious and important benefits of traveller's cheques are that they can be replaced if lost or stolen. Just make damn sure you keep your receipt in a safe place separate from your traveller's cheques, and I would also suggest leaving a photocopied receipt with someone at home just in case. The benefits of traveller's cheques seem so obvious it's a wonder why I didn't make more use of them. Though they may not be the very cheapest way of ta king money abroad, the security they give you is excellent, and the difference in terms of cost is not that great. I thought I'd end up getting a really bad exchange rate and wouldn't be able to change them in rural areas. Neither of these was the case in the places I visited, and I would expect the same to be true of most destinations that are frequented by tourists. I would, however, always have another means of getting money, such as a credit card, just in case. One final word of advice on traveller's cheques - get them in US dollars or in pounds. I got mine in Australian dollars on the advice of the woman at the counter and ended up losing a fair amount of money compared to my friend who took his in good old pounds sterling. I would have gone for US dollars had the pound not been at a 15 -year low against the dollar at the exact time I was requiring the exchange (D'oh!). I would expect $US to be the safest bet, being the strongest, most in-demand currency worldwide. But the pound is still remarkably strong around the world and having your traveller's cheques in pounds also has the added advantage of allowing you to keep track of what you're spending more easily. Your call. Personally I'd go for US dollars. One more thing - I'm giving this advice from the point of view of someone travelling through a number of countries. If you're only going to one you may find it easier to simply have your traveller's cheques in that currency. Ooh, ooh, one thing I nearly forgot - if you decided take a lot of money in traveller's cheques, you'll get handed a large wad of cheques to sign, one by one. Just make sure you sign each one properly because if you can't reproduce it properly wherever you end up trying to change it you won't get no dough. I know it sounds obvious, but some dim-witted individuals, who shall remain nameless for fear of being humiliated on their own opinion, may foolishly rush throug h this bit and end up having difficulties. Oh, and think about what denominations to get your cheques in because Some places charge commission per cheque. Convenience Vs cost. Often the way! Last but not least - credit/debit cards: Credit cards can be a wonderful thing, and Visa and MasterCard do, genuinely, seem to be 'recognised worldwide' as the ads so often remind us. If you're comfortable with your credit card and know your time limits for paying it off, rates of interest, etc., then by all means stick everything on there. However, it seems to me far too dangerous to be able to do that and I'd take one only as back up for fear of spending away far more than I could afford. Also, there is the problem of theft and fraud. If you do go for this option, make sure you've got 'Cardguard' or the non-HSBC equivalent which will 'guard' your 'card' (clever hey?!) against fraud. Just make sure you know what you're spending and keep your receipts. Ask for them if you have to. As credit cards are a relatively new phenomenon to ickle baby me, that is about the limit of the advice I am able to give on the matter. Debit cards seem to me a much better option. I took a debit card and my friend had a credit card for emergencies. I prefer it that way round! Wherever there's a Maestro or Cirrus symbol you'll be able to withdraw from a cash machine, and in many places you'll be able to pay for things by card. If you ask your bank, they'll be able to give you a list of cash machines you can use wherever you're going and will be able to tell you about the charges incurred. If your bank won't give you a list, go to HSBC and pretend you've got an account there because you'll be able to use the same machines if you've got Cirrus/Maestro, and HSBC definitely have lists cos I got one!! If you're going to a major city you probably needn't bother about checking, but i t can't hurt to check. Again, in Sydney I just glanced at the tower blocks on the skyline and tracked down HSBC that way. The problems begin when you visit certain places - in Hat Rin it was a 20 minute ride on a truck to the nearest cashpoint, and in Salang we had to get cash from a shop that charged us 10% commission on everything we withdrew. Everywhere else I got charged about £3 for withdrawing the equivalent of £100, but check the rate with your bank. When I used HSBC cashpoints I got charged £1.50 for taking out the equivalent of £100, and was able to check my balance in pounds. The exchange rates they gave me were pretty good. That's the one handy thing about Midland being well and truly gobbled - HSBC is a massive bank, and I found their towers pretty easily in Sydney and Singapore which saved me a few quid. Not as much as I'd save if I used a better bank, but that's another opinion! Only joking, I love 'husbuc' really. There may be other banks which will charge you less commission, but I really don't know. One other opinion here recommends 'Citibank' so it might be worth checking out what they offer. I'm getting bored now, so I'll sum it up. It basically depends on where you?re going. I would, in most circumstances, recommend traveller's cheques ad the best option, so long as you have another way of getting funds as back up. Sometimes it may be best to use a debit card, say if you're jetting round several European cities and want cash quick and don't mind paying a couple of quid in charges. Basically, just look at the pro's and cons of each option, use a bit of common sense and it'll all work out nicely, I promise!!! If that's not good enough there's a plethora of good opinions on here just waiting to help you out!! Bon Voyage! :)
I am Australian and have embarked upon what I have been told is the journey of a typical antipodean youth - I jumped on a plane and travelled to the other side of the world. Now obviously I needed some pretty serious funds to achieve this and I was given advice from every Tom, Dick and Harry on how to carry this money in my travels. My personal choice and the form of money I use predominantly when I travel abroad is travellers cheques. Definitely the wisest choice when jetsetting around all the exotic locations we like to visit in our holiday travels as it is a replaceable currency. If your biggest nightmare comes true and your money is either stolen or lost, travellers cheques can be replaced usually within 24 hours - which ultimately means your holiday is not interrupted by a potentially devastating incident. There are however a couple of important things to remember when travelling with travellers cheques. Firstly, the receipt and cheque numbers must be kept seperate to the actual cheques so that replacements can be issued. If this is not done it can be virtually impossible to replace the cheques which not only ruins a pleasant travel experience but can also be very dangerous. Secondly, it is important to investigate commission prices being charged to both buy and cash the travellers cheques you buy as if you are not careful it can become quite an expensive undertaking. I would suggest American Express. From personal experience I have found them the best in the area of travellers cheques for three main reasons. 1. They are a well established Company with a good reputation and very helpful staff if you experience any problems. 2. You can get travellers cheques with no delay over the counter for a very reasonable fee. 3. If you cash the cheques at an American Express counter no commission is charged. Travellers cheques are obviously the best way to carry the bulk of your funds when travelling, how ever, it is also advisable to take a small amount of the Country's currency for purchases on arrival. This way you can have that bottle of water when you get off the plane or even head straight to the pub for a nightcap. Currency is available from banks and travel agencies and takes a couple of days to organise so make sure you are prepared with this form of travel money. The final thing I would suggest would be a credit card. Although these are more difficult to replace if lost and can be dangerous in irresponsible hands they are good for a last resort. The other good thing about credit cards is that they are universal and many different places accept these as a viable form of payment. Handy when you have used all that currency and haven't had a chance to cash any of your travellers cheques! These are obviously a bit more difficult to acquire so it is necessary to begin organising a couple of months before travelling to account for application and processing time of your particular bank. Basically when travelling you want to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that money is easy to use and hassle free. This is easily achieved with a small amount of thought and organisation which although is annoying at your end makes life much easier when you are lying on a beach with a cocktail in Barbados or skiing down the French alps.
Anyone who purchases travellers cheques nowadays is wasting their money. There are many more convenient (and cheaper!) ways of obtaining holiday money. I have travelled to many countries in the world, armed only with a credit and debit card, and have had no problems obtaining foreign currency. Here are my suggestions... The cheapest way to withdraw money is from your own bank current account. Banking is changing rapidly, and many banks now allow you to withdraw foreign currency from your current (or even savings) account. Make sure you have a PIN before you travel. I bank with Citibank, and I can withdraw cash from cashpoints worldwide. This is commission free, and at the market exchange rate. So, by doing this, not only do I get the best exchange rate available, I also leave my money in my current account until I need it (earning a small amount of interest!). Often my salary is paid into my bank account whilst I am away, so I can also spend some of this! The next source I would consider is to take a cash advance from a credit card (preferably one where you always pay the balance in full). You will be charged a handling fee (usually a minimum of £1.50), but this again is cheaper than many commissions paid to a UK bank when buying currency. Again, you will probably get a better exchange rate. Ideally you will need to use a credit card that does not have any other purchases on it - better still pay money into your credit card before you go so it has a credit balance. Finally, I would take sterling (or US$) in cash and change it at a local bank or hotel as needed. I suggest you take clean notes in small denominations. I, personally, don't worry about carrying cash, because it is covered by my travel insurance (although there is the hassle factor of making a claim). Another advantage of my Citibank account is that it allows me to deposit foreign currency notes into my current account, and doesn& #39;t charge commission, so I don't even need to worry about bring money home.
I do alot of travelling and I've found that the best way to handle holiday spending money is to take your flexible friend. Even after allowing for the 2.5 - 2.75% service charge for foreign cash advances you are still no worse off than changing cash or traveller's cheques because you get an official bank rate instead of a tourist exchange rate. Obviously it's wise to have a little foreign currency when you arrive in a foreign country. If your destination is Bangkok then here's a tip...... Don't change your money up before you leave the UK. Exchange booths at the airport will give you 4 or 5 bahts more for your pound and what's more, they don't charge commission. There are also numerous exchange booths in the city which stay open late and they all seem to use the same rate. I've never paid any commission charges at any of these places. --------------------------------------------- 04/08/01 For those who subscribe to Reader's Digest, there's an interesting article on this very subject in the August issue.