Top tips for using credit cards, withdrawing money, and exchanging money while traveling
When to exchange money while traveling? And how to exchange money abroad? Answer all your currency questions.
Accessing money around the world can be a snap (no different than in your own country) or a nightmare. And all the rest. The world is big and every country is different. It is not possible to explain every country in an article like this, so it will only cover a few general tips and principles to keep in mind.
These tips are useful both for those who are on vacation and for those who end up making ends meet by traveling indefinitely as a digital nomad. You can also extend your trip around the world by volunteering all over the world. Aside from the current pandemic, travel has never been easier.
Check with your own bank
The first thing to check is the foreign transaction policy of your own bank. You must check with your bank the transaction fees abroad. Do they charge for every EFTPOS transaction and what are their ATM withdrawal fees? Getting it right can save up to 3-5% of all money spent overseas. Also check the spread they use for the exchange rates. Some banks make a lot of money on foreign transactions – this is the first thing to do.
- Notify the bank: Always notify your bank that we are leaving – otherwise they may suspect that the transactions are fraudulent and freeze the card !!!
Advice: If an EFTPOS machine asks you if you want to pay in the local currency or in the currency of your country, always choose the local currency. This is a trick to get one to accept a worse rate
Credit card merchants
The two magical merchants that operate (almost) all over the world are MasterCard and Visa – these are almost universally accepted. American Express and Discover have a much more limited international reach.
Discover even has an international acceptance card – and it’s pretty limited. Some places like New Zealand may accept American Express but add 2% more or something on top of the price. If one is going to travel, MasterCard and Visa are the safest bet.
- Take multiple cards: Be prepared to lose a card, take two or more cards and keep them in different places – If you’re a pickpocket don’t lose everything
- Best merchants: MasterCard and Visa
- Limited merchants: Discover And especially American Express
But there are also many exceptions to this rule of international acceptance. They are difficult to use in China (you really need to pay AliExpress or WeChat there) and the Netherlands (which also use their own system for some reason). In some African countries, many banks and ATMs do not accept MasterCard (Visa only) – although there is always at least one bank that accepts MasterCard.
Withdraw money anywhere in the world
You can almost always withdraw money in almost any country. There are a few exceptions – there are only a few (a few years ago) of ATMs in Uzbekistan and maybe none in Turkmenistan (if you go take cash – in US dollars or euros ). Iran is under US sanctions and therefore international traders are prohibited from working there.
- Iran: If one is cash strapped in Iran, go to the carpet sellers – they will call them through a business associate in Dubai or elsewhere to bypass sanctions
One of the limitations of cash withdrawals is that ATMs in many countries are limited to a maximum of around $ 150 or $ 200 withdrawal per day. You can get around this problem by using multiple banks and multiple cards. But it can be annoying if you pay $ 5 per transaction.
- Withdrawal limit: Many countries limit withdrawals to around $ 200 per day
A note on taking cash and exchanging cash
If one is traveling to developed countries like Europe, Australia or New Zealand, it is hardly necessary to take large sums of cash. Credit cards will work great (just check with banks for the best policies). In other countries like Africa or Southeast Asia, you can almost always pay for expensive items like hotel with a credit card, but taxis, food, souvenir shopping, etc. can be mainly cash.
- China: China is now truly a cashless society (Sweden too)
The best currencies to take in the world are the US dollar and the euro, followed by the pound sterling. Next are Canadian dollars, Australian dollars, Japanese yen, Swiss francs and others.
- Take some new notes: Only take crispy new bills. Old US banknotes might not be accepted, torn or worn banknotes might not be accepted either
- Scottish pounds: Scottish pounds sterling are only legal tender in the UK, never travel with Scottish or North Irish pounds, they will not be accepted
Next: 10 Travel Tips People Haven’t Thought Of (& 10 That Don’t Work)
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