Explore all of the different and best ways to take money on holiday abroad

When planning your travels abroad, it’s easy to get carried away with the prospect of new sights, sounds, and experiences. 

In the excitement leading up to a holiday, it is easy to overlook the stress that organising travel money can cause. Whether you’re planning a short vacation, or have plans for extended travels, having a solid strategy for taking travel money abroad is essential. 

Our guide explores the best ways to manage your travel money, ensuring peace of mind and financial security for the duration of your trip.

Table of contents:

The most popular options for holiday money and travelling abroad, include:

  • Cash: This is the most traditional form of travel money as it can be used directly for all kinds of transactions and be withdrawn whilst abroad (be wary of fees). Cash is useful for small purchases, but can also be a magnet for pickpockets.

  • Credit Cards: They are accepted widely around the world, and credit cards offer convenience and security. Most credit cards will also come with travel perks like free travel insurance and reward points. However, using a credit card will come with foreign transaction fees. 

  • Debit Cards: Linked directly to your bank account, debit cards allow you to easily withdraw cash and make purchases abroad. Again, be mindful of foreign transaction fees.

  • Prepaid Travel Cards: These are cards that are preloaded with a set amount of money, which can then be used as a credit or debit card.

  • Traveler’s Checks: Although less common in today’s world, traveler’s checks provide security as they can be replaced if they are lost or stolen. 

  • Mobile Payment Apps: Services like Apple Pay, and Google Pay offer convenience and security. Make sure your destination supports these methods of payment, and watch out for any international fees.

  • Bank Transfers: Sending money directly to a bank account abroad might be an option, especially if you need to move larger amounts of money. However, these transfers often take more time and may involve fees. 

  • Foreign Currency Exchange: Exchange your money into the local currency before you travel. However, be cautious of exchange rates and fees, which can vary widely between providers.

You should consider the convenience, security, and fees associated with each form of travel money when deciding which option, or options, to use during your travels.

How to best plan your holiday money

Before setting off on your travels, take the time to research the currency of your destination, and familiarise yourself with the current exchange rates. 

This will help you estimate how much money you’ll need for expenses such as accommodation, transportation, meals, and any activities you have planned.

Use a mixture of holiday money options

Diversifying your travel money options is the best way to take money abroad. Although carrying cash is essential for making small purchases, or emergencies, relying solely on cash can be risky. Bringing multiple forms of payment on holiday offers numerous benefits. 

The first is flexibility as a diverse range of payment options will allow you to adapt to various situations or payment preferences in different locations.

For example, cash might be handy for smaller transactions in areas with limited card acceptance, whereas credit and debit cards offer more protection for larger purchases.

Carrying a variety of travel money options will also mitigate the risk associated with loss or theft. If one method is compromised, you will have backups readily available to continue your journey with little to no disruption. 

We’ve provided a list of countries that are infamous for pickpocketing, demonstrating the need to use a combination of cash and other payment methods to ensure flexibility and security:
  • Spain: particularly cities like Barcelona and Madrid. 

  • Italy: particularly Rome, Florence, and Milan.

  • France: specifically tourist sites in Paris.

  • United States: particularly New York, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

  • Thailand: tourist destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya experience the highest amounts of pickpocketing.
Different travel money options may also offer distinct benefits such as reward points, cashback, or travel insurance, maximising the value of your spending.

Informing your bank before travelling abroad

Before setting off on your journey, you should notify your bank, or credit card company, of your travel plans to avoid any unexpected issues with payment, or cards declining, whilst you are away. 

A straightforward call to your bank will result in them making a note of the dates you are away, which will avoid any unwanted complications with your bank whilst you are away.

What is the safest way to carry money on holiday? Don’t have (too much) cash

Although cash may seem like a convenient and straightforward way to ensure you can always make payments on holiday, there are compelling reasons to avoid solely relying on physical cash.

Cash is inherently vulnerable to loss or theft, and in unfamiliar environments, the risk of pickpocketing or misplacing money increases, which could leave you stranded abroad with no funds. 

Additionally, cash limits your ability to track expenses and leaves little recourse in the event of fraudulent activity, all while making you a target for theft or robbery.

Finally, exchanging currency often involves fees and unfavourable exchange rates, which could result in additional expenses.

By minimising your reliance on cash, and opting for safer alternatives like credit cards, debit cards, or prepaid travel money cards you will ensure greater security, convenience, and peace of mind during your travels abroad.

busy crowd of people shopping on holiday

Thinking about a credit card? Make sure to choose the right one

Some credit cards are flexible when it comes to using them abroad, with some companies even offering “perks” such as hotel reward points. 

Each credit card will come with its own unique set of features, benefits, fees, and foreign transaction policies. Make sure you do your research to work out which credit card will be the best fit for you. 

We suggest you look for credit cards with benefits like no foreign transaction fees, travel insurance, rewards points, and emergency assistance services. These will enhance your travel experience and give you peace of mind.

One of the benefits of using a credit card from a large bank is that many of them have ATM partnerships across the globe. If you are unsure which card to go for, comparison websites are usually a good place to start.

Top tips to get the most out of exchanging your holiday money

To ensure you are getting the most out of your currency exchange, we suggest you follow the following steps:

  1. Monitor Exchange Rates: Keep an eye on currency exchange rates. Our experts can provide up-to-date information on currency rates and fluctuations for you if required. 

  2. Shop Around: Compare exchange rates offered by different banks, currency exchange websites, or other digital platforms. Avoid exchanging currency at airports or tourist areas, as they offer less favourable rates. 

  3. Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion: When paying abroad, merchants may offer to convert the transaction into your home currency. We advise you to opt for the local currency, as this will most likely save you money.

  4. Consider Fees: You should take into account any fees associated with currency exchange, including transaction fees, commission charges, and ATM withdrawal fees. Select options with minimal or no fees to maximise your exchange value. 

  5. Use Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees: If possible, use types of money cards that waive foreign transaction fees when making purchases abroad. 

  6. Withdraw Larger Amounts: Minimise the number of currency exchange transactions by withdrawing larger amounts of cash at once. However, we suggest you only carry around the amount you need for immediate expenses.

  7. Plan Ahead: Anticipate what currency you will need before travelling and exchange money in advance to take advantage of more favourable rates. 

The benefits of using a prepaid travel money card for your holiday

Using a prepaid travel money card offers several benefits for travelers seeking convenience, security, and financial control. 

Firstly, prepaid travel money cards allow you to preload a set amount of foreign currency, enabling you to have more control over your budget and expenses, whilst avoiding the hassle of carrying large amounts of cash around. 

Prepaid travel money cards offer flexibility, as they can be used like debit or credit cards for purchases, withdrawals from ATMs, and online transactions, both domestically and internationally. 

These cards also provide enhanced security compared to cash, as your funds are protected by a unique PIN and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen.

The EasyFx Travel Money Card currently has over 40,000 users for their holidays and travels overseas. 

The travel money card allows you to manage your spending via the EasyFx app, making managing your transactions easy and accessible. 

The EasyFX Travel Money Card can be used wherever a Mastercard is accepted, which includes over 35 million locations worldwide. Lastly, you can enjoy free purchases, free ATM withdrawals, and free international transfers, wherever you go. Get in contact with our team today, for more information!

How to monitor your money whilst on holiday & traveling abroad

Monitoring your bank accounts whilst abroad is crucial for maintaining financial security and managing expenses effectively. 

By regularly checking your accounts you will be able to track transactions, monitor your spending, and detect any unauthorised or fraudulent activity promptly.

The best way to do this is to make use of online banking and mobile apps, you can easily access your accounts from anywhere in the world, ensuring peace of mind and quick action in case of suspicious transactions. 

Lastly, monitoring your accounts helps you stay within budget and avoid overspending whilst travelling, enabling you to adjust your spending habits accordingly. 

By staying vigilant and proactive in monitoring your bank accounts while abroad, you can safeguard your finances, maintain control over your expenses, and enjoy a worry-free travel experience.

birds eye view of swimming pool on holiday

Have funds saved and ready for emergencies

Preparing for emergencies with travel money will ensure a smooth, stress-free holiday experience. 

It is no secret that holidays often come with unexpected emergencies, ranging from lost or stolen wallets, unforeseen medical expenses, or travel disruptions. 

By having a contingency plan in place, such as carrying backup forms of payment, keeping emergency cash reserves, and knowing how to access your funds quickly, you can mitigate the impact of any unexpected issues you may encounter. 

As mentioned before, it’s vital to inform your bank of any travel plans and keep copies of important documents, like passports, credit card information, and emergency contact numbers, in a secure location. 

Being prepared and utilising different types of payment allows travelers to handle emergencies efficiently, minimising disruptions to their trip and providing peace of mind knowing they have the financial resources to navigate any unexpected challenges that may arise. 

The best way to take money on holiday: A summary

Taking money, or moving money, abroad can often feel like a scary task but by following the advice shared in this guide, you will find the process not only easy but rewarding too. 

The most important step is to diversify the forms of travel money you take on holiday. Ideally, this would include a combination of a travel money card, a small amount of cash in the local currency, and your regular bank account (via debit or credit card). 

This combination will guarantee you are prepared for all outcomes and will give you the option to transfer more funds onto your travel money card whilst on holiday if you need to.
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Need to send money abroad? We can help.

At EasyFX, our goal is to make international money transfers affordable, smooth, and easy, for everyone. Whether a small transfer or large transaction, we can cater to all types through our money transfer app, or our expert brokers, who are ready to find you the best rate available, saving you money.

If you'd like to receive a free transfer quote, please contact our team today!

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