When you’re away from home on vacation or traveling for work, you have to think a bit more than you usually do about money. How will you carry it? How much do you want to spend? What currency will you need? All of these considerations get factored in.
You will need money for pretty much every part of your trip, so it is worth considering what you will spend and why. You have two major options to choose from: cold, hard cash or plastic. More than likely, you will need both but you should consider how much you want to bring and what type of cards you want on hand.
Think about what you want to do now and it will save you both stress and money on your trip later. To help you out, the list below weighs the pros and cons of bringing cash versus cards on your travels. After you read this guide, you can make an informed choice about what you want to bring along and how much of it you will take with you.
Which One Takes the Cake?
● Cash is accepted pretty much everywhere.
Unless the place you’re traveling to is Silicon Valley, with cash in your pocket you don’t need to worry about whether you will go into a store and they won’t accept your form of payment. You can rest assured that your money will be taken anywhere you go. Especially if you run into an emergency, this is a seriously comforting fact.
Meanwhile, if you’re using a credit card, a significant amount of businesses still won’t run it through. It can be cost-prohibitive for small places. Even if most places do take it, you don’t want to end up stuck somewhere that doesn’t accept it, with no other options.
● Credit cards are way more convenient.
No one wants to be overly encumbered on their vacation. Taking a big stack of cash means loading up your bulky wallet and having to bring it around with you all day. If you opt for a plastic card, it’s not only lightweight but slim. It can fit in a small pocket and you can forget about it until you need it.
● Creating and sticking to your budget is easy with cash.
When you only have so much to spend, cash makes it easy to limit yourself. You can enjoy yourself without being tempted to go above and beyond your means. You can also keep track of how much money you have left in real-time. Just fish the wad of money out and see how much the bundle has dwindled.
Credit cards invite temptation. Maybe you have intense willpower and this doesn’t matter to you, but if you’re anything like the rest of us, it is hard to say no to a fun experience or unique local restaurant while you’re away from home.
● Thieves will target cash.
This is another issue where the bulkiness of cash will cause you problems. A big wallet sticking out of your back pocket is almost an invitation to have it stolen from you. Even if it doesn’t get stolen, it’s one more thing that you need to worry about. If you’re traveling with a credit card, you can tuck it away in a safe place and not have to worry about the visual element of it being seen.
● Digital theft is possible with a credit card.
Maybe your credit card is less likely to get physically stolen, but something equally unfortunate could happen. A thief could extract information from your card using a card skimmer and you would be none the wiser.
Swipe your card in the wrong place where a device has been left and the perpetrators could have your identity and card details in minutes. Not only is that the end of your trip, but it could turn into full-blown identity theft. This is another situation where analog is king.
● Trips abroad are much easier with a credit card.
If your travels take you overseas, a credit card will be a much easier way to deal with the change in currency. For major credit cards, there is no concern with switching over the currency as the cards will do it automatically. Some of the bigger companies will get you the best exchange rates so you don’t have to look into this yourself.
If you decide to use cash, though, the exchange rate is locked in on the day you make it. You don’t have to worry about daily fluctuations and how much your dollar will be worth.
● Leaving cash at home means crazy ATM fees.
When you decide to leave your cash home, you are quite simply tempting fate. At some point, you will need cash for something – be it a tip or a visit to a cash-only establishment. Try to withdraw some cash from your credit or debit card and you will quickly realize the mistake you made. The fees can be insane, especially if you’re abroad. It’s better to bring at least some cash.
● Get travel points on your credit card.
If you have a credit card that gives you points for your purchases, especially for travel, you stand to earn a lot of points on your trip. That could mean having money for a whole new trip – or maybe just paying the remainder of your credit card off.
You have to do this part right, though. Go wild with your credit card spending and any points you get won’t even cover the interest for your debt. Make sure you can stick to your budget to make the points worth your while. If things get out of hand and you overspend to the point of accumulating a ton of debt on your credit card, rest assured that you can still work to manage your debt afterwards so it is not the end of the world.
Traveling can be incredibly rewarding. It’s an instant stress-reducer and you can experience things you never would ordinarily. But planning for your trip is the difference between something you’ll always remember and the headache you wish you could forget.
Arguably, nothing is more important to consider than money. It can buy almost anything you forget when you get there. You will probably want to bring a mix of cash and credit on your travel, but now you can finalize your strategy to make your trip a success!