Money, money, money! We say money isn’t everything and it’s certainly not but it sure is important and we want to save where we can, especially when we travel. I always get a lot of questions about money. For instance how to pay for things, where to change money, do countries accept credit cards, etc. So, here are a few money and credit card tips for traveling.
Money Exchange and Cash
First, I always say that cash is king when you travel and I still believe that. I always carry at least 500 U.S. dollars in different denominations. I almost always also carry at least 200 Euros just in case. These are without question the two best currencies to possess.
I rarely exchange money except for about $50-100 equivalent if I’m in a less developed country and the taxi or vendor won’t take a credit card. In developed countries, almost always these days, the taxis or other transport will take credit card.
Otherwise, I believe that you should take money out of an ATM instead of changing money where they can charge you exorbitant fees. ATM’s will still charge you fees through your bank, but many cards and banks these days offer no fees, even abroad. Some banks also have reciprocal agreements with foreign banks so check your bank website to see if yours does.
Aside from being expensive, changing money can be confusing for many people. Many exchanges will offer fee-free exchanges. This is a misleading term because that just means they’re giving you a worse rate. Also, if you insist on changing money to local currency, use the exchanges in town. At the airport they all work together with set prices to scam people out of a few extra cents. This sounds like nothing but if you’re exchanging a large amount of money it can add up into unnecessary money wasted.
Credit cards are how I pay for almost everything when I travel in developed nations. Taxis, Uber, restaurants, hotels, souvenirs, bars—you name it! If you don’t already have a card with no foreign transaction fees then you’re wasting money. Many don’t charge but I personally use the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express and I love it.
Many people complain that sometimes their credit card company will block foreign purchases because they think it might be fraud. This is very common and has happened to me numerous times. So what I did, was call all my credit card companies and explain to them my lifestyle and asked them to put a permanent lift on blocking foreign purchases. Of course, this also means I have to check my statement often but I don’t mind. If you only travel internationally on occasion, you can call before each individual trip and have them put a note on your account for the duration of your trip.
Chip Credit Cards Vs. Swipe Credit Cards
Chip credit cards have been a thing in Europe, Canada and Asia for a long time and it’s finally caught on in the United States. Many vendors in other countries will only take credit cards with a built in chip. If you don’t have a credit card with chip technology, call your credit card company immediately and get one. It’ll save you the hassle when you travel abroad.
What Cards are Most Accepted Internationally
Without question Visa and MasterCard are accepted internationally at the most places. They have the most international agreements with foreign banks and vendors. American Express is accepted at most places but certainly not all. There’s been many times where I’ve wanted to use it but couldn’t because it’s not accepted. This can be annoying especially if you’re conscious about itemizing travel expenses on business credit cards for tax purposes.
However, it’s good to have a second business credit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo just in case. Discover is rarely accepted outside of the United States. This is what I’ve been told. To be honest I’ve never used one so I don’t know the extent but it’s safe to say it’s the worst of the four major credit cards to travel with.
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