Solo travelers agree that it is better to travel abroad with a bank card. It can store money, not be afraid to lose it, pay for goods and services, and save on fees for currency exchange. However, it isn’t easy to do only with a map. In some cases, they do not accept it. It is easier to pay in cash, in the third beautiful, unusual money want to bring home as a souvenir.
Where to take cash?
Despite the proliferation of bank cards and online payments, cash is often paid in cash in many regions and countries worldwide. The reasons may be different. With cash worth a ride:
- To Germany, Italy, and some other conservative European countries, where they are in no hurry to say goodbye to paper money.
- Caucasus, Central, and Southeast Asia, where strong street trade traditions – many shops, family shops, and markets.
- Countries with their payment systems and not everywhere accept Visa and MasterCard bank cards, such as Japan.
- Countries that accept dollars (Cambodia, Philippines) do not need to change money to the local currency once again.
- To some border or resort towns where rubles are accepted: for example, in Finland, China, Abkhazia, Turkey – but this is more of an exception than a norm.
Where is it better to withdraw or change money?
Cash in foreign currency can be stocked both before the trip and during. In three ways:
At the ATM
Before the trip. Money from the visa card can be withdrawn from the ATM in dollars or euros. The exchange rate may differ slightly from the rate in the department, but the method itself is convenient – you do not need to apply to the exchange office and stand in queues. Not all ATMs do not give out currency in this way – check on the websites of banks or branches. The amount of issuance can be limited to several hundred. Bills can only be large. Anyway, to withdraw or change large sums in your native country is not recommended – you still travel with them.
Abroad. You can withdraw money from ATMs abroad immediately in local currency with a visa or master card. In the first case, the conversion occurs at the rate of your bank or payment system (Visa or MasterCard). The bank’s commission or system can be added to it. In addition, your bank, as well as the one whose ATM you decided to use, can take a commission for cash withdrawals – a particular interest, but not less than some fixed amount—for example, 5 euros when exchanging 100 euros. Because of commissions to withdraw cash often and small amounts abroad are unprofitable.
In the bank branch
Before the trip. Almost all branches of banks have exchange offices. If you change a large amount, compare the rates of different banks through the Internet and choose the most profitable. If the amount is small, the difference will not be significant. Choose one that is closer to home or work. Disadvantages: there may be queues in the bank, especially during the holiday season. You may not need a large sum. Otherwise, it is the most convenient and safe way.
Abroad. Changing money in banks abroad is more complicated. You will need minimal knowledge of the local language or at least English. However, English may not be saved in countries where it is hardly spoken, for example, in Italy, Brazil, or China. Foreign banks may not have the usual exchange offices – instead, you will have to turn to a bank employee who solves other issues and can be busy with other customers. The number of banks in the city can be pretty limited, and you will have to choose from one or two, not a dozen as at home.
Before the trip. In exchange offices, reasonable rates are better than in banks, but a lot of hidden nuances. The course that you will see on the street sign is likely to be advertising and only operate when exchanging a large sum, for example, 10 thousand dollars or euros. You may not be informed about it if you do not ask and exchange money at an unfavorable rate. In addition, there are various commissions in the exchanges. It is less safe to change in the exchange than in the bank. You may slip fake or torn bills or count. Compare the courses of different exchangers on the Internet will not work.
Abroad. Exchangers in other countries work (and earn) on the same principles. It is even less safe to change money in them: ignorance of the local or English language is added. If you detect deception, you will have to communicate with sign language. Comparing prices in exchanges abroad is even more difficult – you are unlikely to want to bypass dozens of them to change a small amount. Most likely, contact the nearest one, without understanding whether you can trust him.
Some Additional and Useful tips
1. Take your time when withdrawing money from an ATM – pay attention to all the essential information on the screen. Choose English on the menu. Translate with a dictionary on your smartphone what you do not understand – it is faster than it seems.
2. Always take a sufficient amount of cash to remote settlements in any region of the world where there may be few banks, exchanges, and ATMs. Or they may not be at all.
3. Each country has a state bank, as well as 2-3 large well-known banks. If possible, contact them. Cash is cashed in at ATMs of these banks. It’s safer.
4. Do not rely on the advice of residents about currency exchange. Domestically, people use local money and may not know which bank or exchange rate is at or even where the exchangers are located. Travelers know more about it.
5. There may also be an inflated rate in exchanges at airports and railway stations. It is helpful to change a small amount of money at home to get from the airport or from the station to the city, find a proven bank, and change a large amount of money in it.
6. Nowhere and never change money with your hands. Exception: Venezuela, Argentina, and other countries where there are restrictions on the exchange of dollars and euros, and between the official and “black” exchange rates, the difference of 50% or more. But even in this case, it is better to change money at home. Learn about a country’s currency restrictions before you travel.
7. There may be an additional fee for exchanging U.S. dollars in some countries. In Cuba, for example, 10%. In such countries, you need to go with the euro.
8. In general, be careful when handling cash in popular tourist destinations, where it is easy to fall prey to pickpockets, dishonest sellers, and other scams.