Our trip starts in Thailand and takes us through 8 other countries, possibly more (we have no plans to stop any time soon).
So with this in mind we need a good way to access our money worldwide, because carrying around a months worth of all the different currencies we’ll need is not an option.
The majority of our trip will be through Asia, First thing to know about Asia…
CASH IS KING!
Most accommodation, shops and generally any services prefer cash. If they do have the resources to take card payments you’ll usually be paying a surcharge, especially with a credit card.
Oh, and street food, you literally can’t miss out on the amazing assortment of street food available. Sadly we’re still a good few years away from these vendors carrying Card machines, so cash cash cash!
The second thing worth knowing is…
The U.S. Dollar
Maybe you noticed in the above picture I have some U.S. dollars and I’m not even going to America.
USD is the go to currency for many South East Asian countries, particularly in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
You will see everyone from accommodation, to small local shops quoting prices in USD, and many times they will say they prefer it. I couldn’t tell you why they do, but they do. You’ll find especially with big-ticket items a few green backs is much preferred over a mountain of local currency.
It’s worth saying that if you plan on buying things in dollars it’s not a bad idea to have a rough estimate of the recent exchange rate in your mind, to prevent any massively unfavourable rates on your side.
Personally I prefer to buy in local currency, the USD I carry are mainly for back-up, visas and for exchanging. You’d be surprised at how good a rate you get when you take a clean crisp 100$ note into almost any street money exchange. They want them, and they’re happy to pay a good price for them.
Again when doing this have the real recent exchange rate in mind, I do this by having the XE mobile app on my phone.
Carly and I know we are in Thailand for at least 30 days so we got some travel money sorted before hand, between the two of us we got together 2000 AUD. Half of that in Thai Baht, and the other half in U.S dollars.
Personally I wouldn’t feel overly comfortable carrying around much more cash than that, so that was our cash limit.
Soon enough that money will run out, which brings me on to the next one…
This section is mainly aimed at travellers from the UK, as that’s all the experience in this field I have.
People are scared of credit cards, I’ve never understood why. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you have to spend it right?
Personally I love credit cards, and I never travel without one. The amount of protection you have from a standard credit card beats any debit or cash card out there.
Not only can you sleep well knowing that if you lose that card, or it’s stolen/cloned that the money being stolen isn’t even your money yet. You’ll never be stranded without any money if you use the credit card for everyday and keep that all important debit card locked away.
Credit in the streets, debit in the sheets.
You also benefit from things such as purchase protection and the ability to charge back any amount within 120 days.
When you make purchases on your credit card that cost between £100 and £30,000, you benefit from an extra level of protection if the item is faulty and the company won’t fix it, or in case the business goes bust before delivering your goods. This credit card protection for purchases helps you get a full refund from your credit provider.
Perfect for those travelling mishaps and large purchases.
My Credit Card of choice
This card is perfect for travelling, it’s made for it!
- Fee free non-sterling transactions.
- You don’t get charged interest on spending abroad, provided you pay this off in full by the date shown on your statement.
- There’s no fee for cash withdrawals.
- The rate you’ll get is set by Mastercard – it tends to be higher than Visa’s and Amex’s rate.
Remember when i said cash is king?
That’s what makes this card so great, I’ve never seen a credit card that doesn’t charge for cash withdrawals. I use this card to get cash literally all the time.
Yet the thing to remember is…
Withdrawing cash means interest charged daily. However it’s so easy to minimise this cost by paying off the withdrawn balance using internet banking as soon as it clears into your account, doing this, the interest you’ll pay will be pennies.
So that’s it, that’s how I manage my money.
I know there’s heaps of travel cards and pre loaded cash cards out there. But on a multi country trip loading 8+ currencies onto a card seems like such a pain. The fact I can spend money in any currency then view my bank account and it’s there in pounds for me already is just too easy, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
As far as I’m aware they have daily and yearly cash withdrawal limits?
Which wouldn’t suit us, travelling as a couple and sharing the one card.
If anyone has other great travel money tips. Or even better some information on monzo/revolut please comment and I will add it to the post.