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I am off travelling, should I take credit/debit cards, cash or travellers cheques?

We are often asked that question here at BestExchangeRates!

Most people these days go for credit and debit cards over cash or travellers cheques. The cards main advantage is that exchange booths don’t have to be open for you to be able to change money. However there are many credit card fees you need to watch out for on purchases abroad or even just when you buy something in USD of Amazon!

We’d suggest taking some cash especially if you are flying in somewhere as this will allow you to go straight to the taxi or airport bus/train station without having to queue jet-lagged at an ATM while also watching over your bags in a strange airport.

If planning on using a credit card for much of the trip, let your bank know. Especially if you are heading somewhere exotic and you don’t tell your bank they may decide to suspend your card if lots unusual purchases start being rung up. This writer’s Visa card was stopped once for buying a rug in Morocco…strange behaviour indeed!

A few other things to bear in mind using credit cards: Some hotels and car rental companies may put holds on your credit card for the amount of your total expected bill. This can use up your credit line before you’ve actually incurred and paid for the charges. All merchants are supposed to inform you if they do put a hold or “deposit” on your card. If they do, make sure you check that the hold has been cancelled when you’ve paid your bill in full.

Keep in mind that you may not have as much protection overseas as you do at home when problems arise over inaccurate charges. Incidents are always being reported of travellers being charged twice for the same item or for items they never purchased, and credit card companies have been unwilling or unable to intercede on their behalf. Always watch merchants imprinting your card and keep your receipts. After you get home, check your credit card statement. If you see charges you didn’t make, call your creditor and ask them to dispute the charges.

David Brown Author: David Brown

David has extensive experience in foreign exchange markets after multiple roles at investment banks and fintech startups in London and Sydney. He founded the BER platform with the goal of providing Retail and SME customers access to the same exchange rate transparency and competition previously only available to larger institutions. BER is now the leading specialist FX comparison website in Australia and a growing list of countries. You can get in touch with me via email at or via the contact page.
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