Traveling is an exciting time for anyone, whether it’s for business or leisure; with a loved one or with friends, we want to create unforgettable memories. How do we fund these trips to make these dreams a reality? Usually with some sort of credit or debit card. Any traveler will tell you cash always wins when traveling, and they would be right in most cases, however financing your whole trip with cash is a big no.
See for yourself the pros and cons are of traveling with a card, and then you can make an informed decision for your next trip. Just weight up the pros and cons of YOUR requirements, and off you go!
10 Pro – Convenience
As the world becomes more tech-savvy, who wants to carry around a wad of cash? We all find it much easier to whip out our credit card and pay with that one little piece of magical plastic, plus it doesn’t take up nearly as much room as cash and coins. It also saves us having to worry about those pesky coins rattling around in our pockets. Using a card, while still being highly convenient as an everyday means of payment, is ideal for large purchases such as hotels and flights.
9 Con – Not for use everywhere
While a credit card can be a highly practical and convenient method of payment, just know that if you are traveling to a small town, they will most likely not accept any cards. An example would be in the small towns of Northern Italy, so just make sure you have some emergency cash with you; not too much, $50 USD is all you need.
8 Pro – Fraud Protection
You’re in an unfamiliar country, completely unknown culture, and knowledge of your surroundings. Although traveling is an exciting time for anyone, it can also be a call for fraudulent activity, or even theft, if you are not careful.
Using a credit card provides you with that extra sense of security and are usually a better option than a handy-card or simple swipe-card, as merchants will require an EMV, a more secure form of payment. If you do encounter theft or misplace your card, you can easily cancel your card or place a temporary lock on it and have access to emergency cash depending on your bank.
7 Con – Local Banks Only
Further to the previous point, some merchants only accept EMVs from local banks, meaning unless you set up a new account in each city you will visit, you may not be able to use your card.
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Chances are you will be able to use it, but as with anything when you travel, and as cliché as it may be, you have to expect the unexpected. As mentioned above, take some emergency cash in case you find it ever so difficult to pay for that €2 coffee.
6 Pro – Rewards
Depending on your card issuer and bank, you can have access to great rewards while spending money overseas. Some banks have partnered with airlines, giving you access to a whole new world of rewards for purchases overseas, or while using a different currency.
It may seem too good to be true, so just take a look at the fine print, annual fees, interest rates, and minimum spend to activate rewards, but all in all, a great way to earn frequent flyer miles for your next holiday!
5 Con – Hidden Fees
Who hasn’t encountered some sort of hidden fee at some point? Credit cards are notorious for hidden fees, however, this can be avoided if you do your research and read every single word of the fine print. EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Banks often charge an overseas, or foreign transaction fee, usually 10% of the purchase price, so make sure you either have no fee, or a very little percentage. Shopping around and taking your time can, and often does, result in much lower fees, it’s just common sense.
4 Pro – Exchange Rates
As avid travelers, we know that feeling when you Google what exchange rate you should get compared to the one you actually got, and let’s be honest, no one really knows what’s going on when it comes to rates and commissions for merchants. Using a credit card will allow you to exchange currency using a rate provided by your bank or card issuer, which is usually better, or at least competitive, with physical cash rates or an ATM.
3 Con – Constant Verification
Some credit cards require photo identification upon purchase, which is a hassle if you are using it for most items, or constantly on the go, rushing to meetings and grabbing a quick coffee in between. Nevertheless, it cannot hurt to take your photo ID with you everywhere, but this just creates another chance of losing some critical legal documents, so just be careful. After all, if you do lose your passport, it’s just an excuse for another week in paradise, right? But seriously, don’t lose it, store it somewhere safe, like a zip pocket in your backpack.
2 Pro – Travel Insurance
Anyone who goes on a holiday without the peace of mind of travel insurance is nothing short of crazy. It is simply a must, even if you are traveling to the safest destination in the world; anything can happen at any time. This is exactly where using a credit card really comes into its own. Now, not all cards provide automatic travel insurance, so you’ll have to check with your provider first, but they can be a great way of ensuring you’re automatically covered while away. If you are a frequent flyer, it may also be a cheaper way of travel insurance.
1 Con – Countless Spending and Theft
Two highly relevant and interconnecting points, countless spending and theft. Let’s start with spending. A credit card is all good and well, but if you are on a shopping trip, or you just lose track of your spending, then a credit card is probably not for you; opt for a debit card, or just be careful with cash.
No one wants to come back from their dream holiday to a bill full of unpaid debt and interest. Second, theft. If you do happen to encounter theft of your wallet while away, and your credit card is inside, and it takes you a while to realize, it may already be too late. The offender may have gone on a spending spree already and put you in quite a bit of debt. We can’t really fully avoid theft, but just be very careful with where you put your wallet, and you’ll be right.