Should you carry cash, a credit card or travel money card?

16 April 2012

When travelling, the last thing you want to do is stress about money... To make your travel life easier, I did some research on the pros and cons of travelling with a credit card, travel money card or cash.

Pros of cash

  • Cash is mostly convenient, especially if you are the bargaining type when it comes to shopping
  • No need to walk around looking for an ATM nearby to withdraw cash

Cons of cash

  • Carrying a lot of cash around cane be a bit of risk, particularly if the locals realize you’re not from around, they might charge you extra when they spot your mega millions
  • Travelling with truck loads of money can make you a bit of a target for criminals and lead to you being robbed 

 Pros of a travel money card

  • You can purchase a travel money card in your country, with the currency of the country you’re jetting off to
  • A travel money card is much safer than carrying cash

Cons of travel money card

  • Having a travel money card, may not be the most convenient thing to have in every country, unless you’re be in the capital city or a very developed country where travel money cards are accepted 

Pros of credit cards

  • No need to be in and out of the foreign exchange office when travelling
  • Most credit cards are accepted globally
  • Should there be any fraud on your card – your financial institution is likely to help source the location of the fraudulent transaction and  reverse these transactions

Cons of credit cards

  • The fee charged “foreign transaction fee” might add up to an unexpected amount when you make many small purchases with your credit card
  • If your card is not pin encrypted this might be a problem should your card get lost
  • Some cabs do not accept credit cards so always have cash as a backup plan
  • You need to notify your bank that you’ll be using the card outside South Africa or they could decline or your transactions – leaving you without a means to support yourself on your travels.

It’s all about the money and how you choose to carry it. Each has their pros and cons and for me it is fairly simple – I take a combination of two of the three listed above. This way I have peace of mind that I’m not going to be left stranded and cashless on my travels.