Holiday money! Taking what feels like your life savings abroad is likely to make even the most ardent traveller anxious – so what are your options? We discuss the pros and cons of taking cold hard cash, plastic, prepaid cards and using overseas ATMs to give you a better idea!
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1. Taking all your holiday money in cash
So, you get a good exchange rate at your local bank and cash in on it by getting all your holiday money exchanged in one go.
The pros to this approach include: getting a good deal, and of course enabling you to budget better. Plus you’ll be sure that you have plenty of currency if you suddenly need to tip someone.
Cons: you might lose it all, it might get stolen. You might run out of money. You will probably need to check there is a safe in your room, and that you trust it. Or you can spend your holiday anxiously hoping that nobody finds your entire spending budget stuffed in your shoe at the back of the wardrobe.
2. Using your credit or debit card
Every shop, restaurant and bar in the world has a card machine right? So why do you need to take oodles of cash on holiday?
The pros to using plastic are: it is easy, it is convenient, and you can choose to pay in the local currency (you are far more likely to get a better rate). It’s easier to hide a card in your swimming trunks than a roll of cash.
The cons: card fraud could leave you penniless, cash is always useful, and spending borrowed money makes it difficult to keep to a budget. Plus your bank might charge for each transaction.
3. Using an ATM to get daily cash
A great compromise is to use your plastic to get just the amount of cash you need to last you the day.
Pros: no worrying about carrying (or hiding) large amounts of cash. You still have your card if you want to put your bar bill on your plastic.
Cons: you could get stung by nasty ATM fees, and you are at the mercy of fluctuations in exchange rates. You do also still have a card on you that could be compromised, and leave you with an empty bank account. Or you could go over your budget and get home to a rather sorry bank balance!
4. Taking a pre-paid currency card
Putting your holiday budget on a pre-paid card appears to iron out a lot of the cons of using cash or other forms of plastic.
Pros: no bundles of cash to worry about, no ATM charges to worry about, not affected by changes in exchange rates, easy to use, no chance of going over budget or losing your actual life savings.
Cons: you may have to pay a start-up fee for the card/account, if you lose your card or it is stolen it’s just the same as losing a big bundle of cash. Or is it?….
The Escape Travel Card has a unique cloud account that offers increased security by allowing funds to be transferred from the card back to the account at any time, keeping spends safe if something should happen to the card…
“The majority of prepaid currency cards see funds held on them directly, meaning that if the card is lost or stolen the funds are taken with the card. But Escape’s unique cloud account offers increased security by allowing funds to be transferred from the card back to the account at any time, keeping spends safe if something should happen to the card. A 24/7 helpline for immediate support and can arrange for funds to be sent to a Moneygram outlet near you, meaning you will never be stranded without access to your money. In addition, users can also take advantage of a free SMS service, which can be used to temporarily lock and unlock the card, providing peace of mind if you’re going for a swim and leaving your card in your bag or hotel room, for example.” Rob Darby, Escape Travel Card
Whether you are taking plastic, pre-paid or cash, here are a few tips from Rob that you may find worth remembering:
- Tourists are better off paying in local currency to avoid paying these steeper exchange rates, as this kind of expense can add up during the course of a trip.
- Holiday-goers can draw attention to themselves by rifling through unfamiliar bank notes when making a payment. Tourists should always be aware of their surroundings when on holiday, a prepaid currency card means this kind of attention can be avoided altogether.
Don’t forget your travel insurance! If you lose your wallet, passport, or visas you will need travel insurance to ensure that you can get home safe!