Accessing money around the world can be anything from a piece of cake (no different to one's own country), to nightmarish. And everything in between. The world is a big place and every country is different. It is not possible to explain every country in an article like this, so it will only discuss some general tips and principles to keep in mind.
These tips are useful for both those on holiday and those making ends meet traveling as a digital nomad indefinitely. One can also extend one's travel around the world by doing volunteer work all around the world. The present pandemic aside, travel has never been easier.
Check With One's Own Bank
The first thing one should check is one's own bank's foreign transaction policy. One needs to check one's bank for the foreign transaction fees. Do they charge for every EFTPOS transaction and what are their ATM withdrawal fees? Getting this right can save as much as 3-5% of all money spent abroad. Also, check the spread they are using for exchange rates. Some banks make a lot of money on foreign transactions - this is the first thing to get right.
- Notify The Bank: Always Notify One's Bank That One is Going Away - Otherwise, They May Suspect That The Transactions are Fraudulent and Freeze The Card!!!
Tip: If An EFTPOS Machine Asks If You Want To Pay In the Local Currency or One's Home Currency - Always Choose The Local Currency. Its A Trick To Get One To Agree To A Worse Rate
Credit Card Merchants
The two magic merchants that work (almost) everywhere in the world are MasterCard and Visa - these are almost universally accepted. American Express and Discover have a much more limited international reach.
Discover even has an international map of acceptance - and it is rather limited. Some places like New Zealand may accept American Express but add another 2% or something on top of the price. If one is going to travel, MasterCard and Visa are the safest bet.
- Take Multiple Cards: Be Prepared For Losing A Card, Take Two Or More Cards And Keep Them In Different Places - If You Are Pickpocketed, Don't Lose Everything
- Best Merchants: MasterCard And Visa
- Limited Merchants: Discover And Especially American Express
But there are also many exceptions to this rule of international acceptance. They are difficult to use in China (one really needs AliExpress or WeChat pay there) and The Netherlands (who also use their own system for some reason). In some African countries, many banks and ATMs don't accept MasterCard (only Visa) - although there is always at least one bank that does accept MasterCard.
Withdrawing Cash Around The World
One can nearly always withdraw cash in almost every country. There are some exceptions - there are only a couple (as of a few years ago) of ATMs in Uzbekistan and maybe none in Turkmenistan (if going there take cash - US Dollars or Euros). Iran is under American sanctions and so the international merchants are forbidden from working there.
- Iran: If One Is Running Out Of Cash In Iran, Go To The Carpet Salesmen - They Will Call It Through To A Business Associate In Dubai Or Somewhere To Get Around Sanctions
One of the limiting things with withdrawing cash is that ATMs in many countries are limited to only a maximum of around $150 or $200 withdrawal per day. One can get around this by using multiple banks and multiple cards. But this can be annoying if one is paying $5 per transaction.
- Withdrawal Limit: Many Countries Limit Withdrawals To Around $200 Daily
A Note On Taking Cash and Exchanging Cash
If one is traveling to developed countries like Europe or Australia or New Zealand, then there is almost no need to take significant amounts of cash. Credit cards will work just fine (just check the banks to get the best policies). In other countries like in Africa or South East Asia, one can almost always pay for the big-ticket items like the hotel with a credit card, but taxis, food, souvenir shopping, and the like may be mostly in cash.
- China: China is Now Veritually A Cashless Society (So is Sweden)
The best currencies to take around the world are American Dollars and Euros, coming in behind are British Pounds. Following distantly after that are Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, Swiss Francs, and others.
- Take New Notes: Only Take Crisp New Bills. Old American Notes Might Not Be Accepted, Torn or Worn Notes Might Not Be Accepted Either
- Scottish Pounds: British Pounds From Scotland Are only Legal Tender In The UK, Never Travel With Scottish or Northern Irish Pounds, They Will Not Be Accepted