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Travel money: Should I exchange cash or just use a card? ‘Cash is still king’ | Travel News | Travel

From paying for dinner to getting on the bus, there are more places than ever that will accept cashless transactions. Since the coronavirus pandemic, much of the world has moved on to make cashless payments easier than ever.

Despite this, according to Simon Phillips, managing director of travel money specialists Currency No1: “Cash is still king”.

He told Express.co.uk: “For those of us who rarely use cash in the UK, it can be tempting to think that everywhere is cashless.

“But cash is still king in many countries. Outside of Western Europe, app-based and digital payment technologies are still in their infancy.

“Even in popular European destinations like Spain, Italy, Germany and France, retailers and restaurants still handle far more cash transactions than they do by card.”

Travel Money Comparison Site Editor quotegoat.comMichael Foote, added: “The amount of foreign currency you will need when you are abroad will depend on where you are going. Do your research online to find out how cashless a country is .

“Some countries like Sweden and Norway are almost entirely cashless. Other countries like Japan and Indonesia are still heavily dependent on cash.”

He added: “As long as you have the right card, your money will go further when using a card because you will get a better exchange rate and you won’t have to pay a commission to exchange your money.

“If, however, you’re traveling to a country that’s still heavily dependent on cash, the benefits are that you won’t be stuck not being able to pay for things when you realize it’s cash only in many restaurants and shops.”

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Consider cash-only services

Even if a country is mostly cashless, it’s also important to consider times when you might only be able to use physical currency.

Mr Foote told Express.co.uk: “Even if you are going to a country that widely accepts payment cards, you may need some cash for things like ATMs, lockers, parking meters, tips, shopping trolleys, buskers, beach vendors and market stalls, as you always do in the UK.”

You may be charged fees for last minute cash withdrawals

Challenger banks like Monzo and Starling are leading the way when it comes to allowing customers the freedom to use their cards outside the UK, including for certain withdrawals.

But this is not the case with all bank cards. Mr Foote explained: “If you withdraw money from an ATM while you are abroad, you will probably have to pay a cash withdrawal fee whether you use your debit card or a credit card.

“It’s always best to check with your bank or lender before withdrawing money overseas, as the vast majority will charge a fee.”

Stick to a budget

Tapping on your bank card can make spending too easy and cause you to lose track of your budget.

But if you’re looking for a vacation that doesn’t break the bank, money could be your best friend.

Mr Phillips said: “Having a cash reserve can also make it easier to budget while you are away.

“With many of us being wary of what we’re currently spending, carrying cash allows you to watch every penny, euro and dime.”

Stay safe

Although cash can be easily stolen, credit card security is also important to consider when traveling.

Mr Phillips said: “Another big reason to use cash abroad is to avoid falling victim to credit card fraud.

“Around £200million is stolen each year from UK-issued credit cards, so think carefully about where you use yours.”

For maximum security, the travel money expert recommends having several different payment methods for your trip.

He said: “Having local currency provides great peace of mind; you can be sure cash will be accepted, and there’s no chance of a nasty surprise when your restaurant bill comes in and the waiter says they only accept cash.”

Which bank cards can I use for free abroad?

Not all bank cards are created equal and many traditional banks charge customers fees for using their credit or debit cards abroad.

In some cases, your bank may even suspend transactions if it detects an unexpected country change.

Mr Foote said: “If you don’t tell your bank you’re going overseas and you try to use your debit card, the bank may decline the transaction as it may look suspicious, so it’s always worth inform your bank if you plan on using your card abroad.”

There are several new challenger banks that allow overseas spending, as well as banks that offer this as a benefit of certain cards.

The key is to do your research before using your card abroad.

Mr Foote recommends using a travel credit card, which “will not charge you a fee for using it” abroad.

He added: “They also offer near-perfect exchange rates when paying in local currency, making it one of the best credit cards to use abroad.

“Travel credit cards are protected by Section 75, which means any purchase over £100 is protected in the event of a problem.

“The majority of travel credit cards also have no cash withdrawal fees, saving you money if you need to withdraw cash from an ATM.

“A word of warning though – withdrawing money from any type of credit card can negatively impact your credit score, so it’s best to avoid doing so.”