Travelling is an exhilarating experience, but it comes with financial decisions that can impact the quality of your journey. One important decision is whether to rely on cash or a credit card. While technology has made it easier than ever to transact with plastic money, especially with the advent of credit card online apps, there are still places and situations where cash is king.
The Credit Card Convenience
Credit cards offer a hassle-free way to transact. You can pay for services and goods almost anywhere with a swipe or a tap. The convenience is even more profound with credit card online apps, which allow you to track your spending, set budgets, and lock your card if it gets lost.
International Charges and Limitations
The flip side to using credit cards, particularly for international travel, is the additional fees. These can range from foreign transaction fees to dynamic currency conversion charges. Moreover, not all places accept credit cards, leaving you stranded if you don’t have an alternative payment method.
The Forex Card Alternative
A forex card is a pre-loaded card that allows you to access money in a foreign currency. Think of it as a prepaid card in a foreign currency that you can swipe, just like a credit or debit card.
Better Exchange Rates and Security
Forex cards offer better exchange rates than cash conversion at an exchange bureau. They are secure, pin-protected, and easily replaceable if lost or stolen.
Reloading and Acceptance
The downside is that not all places accept forex cards, and reloading them can be a hassle if you run out of money.
Credit Card Online Apps to the Rescue
Real-Time Tracking and Security
Credit card online apps have revolutionised how we manage our finances. These apps provide:
- Real-time spending tracking.
- Security features like fingerprint and facial recognition.
- There are even options to freeze the card in case of loss or theft.
The primary limitation is that you need a stable internet connection to access these features, which might only sometimes be available during your travels.
The Cash Conundrum
Accessibility and Universal Acceptance
When discussing the advantages of carrying cash, the term “universal acceptance” looms large. Cash is the lowest common denominator in financial transactions, a medium of exchange recognised and accepted universally.
This is particularly beneficial if your travel plans include destinations off the beaten track. The infrastructure for digital transactions needs to be improved in remote villages or less developed areas.
Let’s say you are on a road trip across rural landscapes; you are more likely to find roadside vendors and small shops that only accept cash. Not all vendors have Point-of-Sale (POS) systems for card transactions. And then there are places like local markets, where cash transactions are quicker and more convenient for both parties involved.
While cash has its merits, it’s far from perfect, especially from a travel perspective. One of the most glaring drawbacks is the safety concern it presents.
Carrying a substantial amount of cash is akin to walking around with a target on your back, especially in places known for pickpocketing or theft. Losing your cash could significantly dent your travel plans and create unnecessary stress. Unlike a credit card, which can be easily blocked and replaced, lost cash is gone forever.
Currency Exchange Hassles
If you are travelling internationally, you will have to deal with the added complexity of currency exchange. It isn’t just about the inconvenience of finding a reliable currency exchange service but also about the financial implications.
Exchange rates fluctuate and can vary between different service providers. These rates are often less favourable for smaller sums of money, meaning you could lose out if you are converting cash frequently. Then, there are service charges and commissions, which can add to your travel budget.
Moreover, the currency you need might be limited, requiring you to place an order in advance. It could disrupt your travel schedule and add another layer of complexity to your journey.
Choosing between cash and a credit card for your journey is not a black-and-white decision.
Ultimately, a hybrid approach is often the best course of action. Carrying a small amount of cash for emergencies and using a credit or forex card for most transactions could offer a balanced solution. Before deciding, consider your destination, the nature of your travel, and your spending habits.