Lugging around a big wad of cash is not advisable when traveling. If you're robbed, or your stuff's rifled through, you stand to lose most of your travel cash in one go. This would put a big stick through the spokes of anyone's vacation plan.
Given how common ATMs, or cash machines, are in most countries by now, it's most often both safer and cheaper to bring along a credit card, debit card, or pre-paid credit card to get money out. Now, this won't help you in countries without ATMs, but those are mainly limited to Sub-Saharan africa.
A pre-paid card, especially, will help you do several things:
- Safeguard your other credit cards from fraud, since they're not used abroad
- Let you take advantage of the best foreign exchange rates, as money changers use unfavorable and old rates
- Carry less cash around
- Can be easily cancelled should it be lost
Minimizing the amount of cash you carry around is definitely a good idea. There's no wonder why a lot of foreign criminals view travelers as walking cash cows given how much cash a normal traveler brings along. Here are what the average traveler surveyed by Visa brings along in cash, by country and in US dollars:
- New Zealand US$1,516
- Australia US$1,441
- India US$1,431
- China US$1,425
- Japan US$1,371
- Malaysia US$954
- Hong Kong US$933
- Taiwan US$930
- Singapore US$866
- Thailand US$772
- Korea US$745
- Average: US$1,120
By getting a pre-paid credit card before leaving, and putting as much money on it as you'll need, will keep your money much safer. Also, if you only use this card at ATMs, you'll stay even safer as it'll be near impossible to steal your card.
What do you use when traveling, cash or credit cards?
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