During my first trip to Japan, I was wondering how much cash do I have to bring, will my credit card and ATM card work their? These are the questions we want to consider before traveling. We don’t want to be trapped in a foreign country you are not familiar yet.
Here are some travel tips I can share whether to bring cash or card.
Get a Checking Account
Before you are planning to leave, I suggest you open a checking account that is linked to Global ATM. You can always inquire at your local banks and they will be very happy to assist you. By using a checking account, it will help eliminate bank overseas fee and will give you better currency exchange rate.
Ask the bank about the usage charges, international fees, conversions and if the card can be used on ATMs all over the world. With the internet now, you can even start searching on-line before you go to the bank.
I strongly suggest you open two separate bank accounts for back-up in case it is stolen or lost. When I was in Peru train station, my wallet was almost snatch but I was able to stop them. If that could have happened, I ended up losing all my cards. One of my friend was a victim. His problem now is that all his cards are their and even some of his cash. He ended up borrowing. It is wise to have a back-up card and leave it at the hotels safe or put it in a separate pocket when you are outside.
One thing, is that if the bank detect any suspicious activity in your card, they will deactivate it and your card will end up not working. Even if you can call the bank, sometimes it is not that fast for them to fix the issue and usually they suggest you change your card, and if you are in Vietnam, that will take time to get your card back.
Call the bank before you leave. Inform them you are going for a vacation and tell them to limit withdrawal transactions. Just in case you lost your card or a fraud will happened, these hackers will not be able to drain your money in one transaction or in one day.
It is also very helpful to put a second user while you are away. You can put a trusted friend or your parents. When I was in Canada, I lost my roaming signal for some reason. And that number is where the bank send its one time password when you access on-line banking. Without the phone their is no way I can transfer money because I cannot even access my account. I then called the bank and tell them what happened and request to change my contact number, but they said, I can only change it if I go to my bank’s branch personally or If I had a second user registered in my account to do it for me. That I learned my lesson.
Minimize Conversion and Fees
Even if you have enough money for your trip, saving is still the wisest thing to do.
- Use credit card – credit card offers best exchange rates and converts your money closest to the official exchange rates. This is mostly the case, but I suggest you also have to double check your bills and or check with your bank for accurate details. Inquire which card is best to use for travel and which ones can help avoid a fee for using them overseas.
- ATM cards – ATM cards offers best exchange rates after credit cards. Commercial banks take a little more off the top compared to credit cards, but it is much better than exchanging cash.
- Minimize excessive withdrawals – these days, it is easy to look online for everything. Before you withdraw money, check if the conversion is on your side then you withdraw more than you need. You will never know if when the exchange rate gets worst, this is especially if you are on a long trip. Keep extra cash in the hotels safe and only take with you a minimal amount when you are going out.
- Do not exchange unneeded cash – not unless you are stuck and cards are not accepted, do not change money. It is even worse to change money at the airport where their rate is way so down and never offer good exchange rates. It is the worst thing to do it at the airport. Just withdraw money from the ATM where it is available. If you really in need to change money, better go to the bank rather than exchange bureaus with their shocking rates. In my own experience, it is really convenient to just use credit card when you pay during your travel. I ended up bringing a lot of extra coins and bills from different countries that I cannot use anymore at home. It is a waste.
- Use bank located ATM’s as possible – it is a very bad idea to use those convenient ATMs you can find everywhere. Yes it is convenient but you will pay for that convenience. This machines often charge high ATM fees and offer horrible exchange rates. Avoid this ATM’s.
- Prefer to choose local currency – when given an option of being charged in your home currency when using your credit card abroad, say NO to this option. The reason is that the preset rate at which they are converting the currency is always worse than the rate your bank will give you. Pick the local currency and let your credit card company make the conversion. You will get a better rate.
- No to travelers cheque – travelers cheque are in old days. Don’t use them, Many banks won’t even accept them and gives you a hassle instead of convenience. ATM are offering better exchange rate now. Never get them not unless it is a GIFT.
Be smart and bank smart so you give the banks less and have more for your trip.
If you find this helpful, please leave a comment below and if you have more to share regarding this topic, that will be greatly appreciated.