Whenever you visit a county its always important to have money right?
But should you carry a ship load with you and exchange it? Or should you charge everything on a card? This is typically what I do and how I travel:
Step 1: RESEARCH
- I always research a place or country to see what their laws are, exchange rates, safety with carrying cash, where are the best places to exchange your cash and the ease of exchanging money
- Know your banks Fees, and Daily Limits: This is very important. You don’t want to have your money going to paying fees and you don’t want to be stuck with little money because your bank only allows you to take out so much in a day. If you’re bank charges fees and let’s say, allows you to take out a $1000 a day , then max it out so you can save on fees..
Step 2.: KNOW YOUR EXCHANGE RATE:
I use apps to see how the exchange rate is doing so that I may gauge what my spending will be like.
- For instance: While in London, I know that the Pound far exceeds the value of the dollar so I will loose a lot of buying power per dollar while there. So I plan accordingly taking into account how much things costs.
- Check to see how much hotels, trains, and basic things will cost. you can do this by just looking online for common things that way you will know roughly what things are valued at and how much money you will need to bring based on your spending habits.
- Download an app for daily exchange rates: my favorite to use ( and I use this constantly) is: XE Currency Converter
- THIS IS IMPORTANT: When you arrive at your destination and go to exchange your cash, its good to know the exchange rate that way you’ll know how much commission the money exchange office charged you. Which normally results in a very bad exchange rate
Step 3: DECIDE ON HOW MUCH CASH TO CARRY
- A few people I’ve traveled with found that carrying cash was a better safety net for them than relying on Bank Cards and Credit Cards. With that in mind they would carry a large amounts of cash and search high and low for foreign exchange offices which can then become a pain.
- I NEVER CARRY MUCH CASH!!!
- Once when traveling to Thailand I did have to bring a huge amount of money because I was getting an elective surgery done there. OMG it was so stressful to travel with over $15,000 in cash.
Erika’s tip: I always carry (2) Credit Cards and (2) Bank ATM cards that have no foreign transaction fees and about $1,000 in cash. You bring two of each card incase one gets lost or stolen, you have a back up. You get the best exchange daily rate when going to an ATM and it’s safer than carrying around cash.
Traveling with lots of cash over $5,000? This is important to know:
If you are planning on traveling with an amount over $5,000 in the USA, by law you need to declare it. Once when traveling to Thailand I had $15,000 with me, I went the customs and immigrations office at the Honolulu International Airport, declared my money and what it was for, filled out a form, and I was on my way in 5 minutes. Why did i do all of this? Because while going through security they discover that you are carrying more than 5g’s you could be in some very serious trouble. I mean serious!!! So please you cash carriers who are looking to spend a bucket load at Chanel in Paris please declare your money.
Also when I carry cash whether it be the time I brought 15 G’s or my normal $1,000 in cash, I always put it in an envelop, sealed, in a money belt , and in my bag when going through security. I’ve heard horror stories from friends who travel to buy stock for their stores how the security loves to take tips…
Step 4: Call your credit and Bank card companies
- It is very important to call your Credit Card and Bank Companies to let them know you will be traveling, where you will be traveling to, and for how long. That way you don’t experience problems withdrawing cash or buying an item.
- Also good to find out for those who don’t have banks or credit card companies that don’t offer the free or no foreign transaction fees, to see how much they charge and how they charge it. Once when I was in Europe I used my bank card to withdraw cash, well not only do they impose a fee for foreign transaction conversion, but they also had a fee for using a different bank’s ATM, and a percentage fee for using it international. Boy was I upset…
BUT WHAT DOES THE WANDERLUST PRINCESS DO WHEN SHE TRAVELS?
Here is a complete break down :
- Research the country I’m visiting and see what’s the best possible way to get their local currency. Whether its a certain atm in a certain area that offered the best rates and least amount of local bank fees . In Europe and most of the world it is so easy to just go to the ATM and get cash. Currently however, I’m planning a trip to Argentina and read that not only are ATMs that accept foreign cards sort of scarce, there are also two types of banks to get your Argentina Pessos: 1. The government issued rate and 2. the Blue rate ( black market rate) OMG I’m not happy about this because I don’t like carrying cash. Its’ not safe , its a burden, and it means I have one more thing to be accountable for. I’ll probably travel with $3000 and get the rest though ATM’s at the airport
- Call all my CC and Bank companies to let them know I’m traveling
- Take out $1000 in crisp $100 bills. It is necessary to carry the Benjamins because for some weird reason , if at a “local ” foreign exchange office, you get literally more bang for that BUCK.
- I put my money in an envelope, sealed, and in a money belt that I wear on the flight and all the way until i arrive at my accommodation in my destination.
- When I land at my destination , I look immediately for an ATM to withdraw local cash and take out my maximum. NOTE: most foreign ATM’s won’t allow you to take out more than a $300 USD equivalent at a time from their machines. If there aren’t many or any at all , I’ll head to the FOREX exchange booth and change $100 just enough to get me a taxi, on the subway, and enough to eat. By that time I’ll already know where I can exchange cash in the city and will probably do that first after checking in to my hotel or BNB.
- PUT IT AWAY IN A SAFE: When i arrive at my destination and let’s say I’ve already exchanged at the airport , I quickly take my daily amount I’ll spend out , my 1. credit card incase i’m going to shop big, and put the rest ( along with my USD cash) in a safe or in a very safe place, along with my passport, and my credit cards. If i have to go and withdraw from the local ATM I’ll bring my Atm card , max out the daily limit and head back to my Accommodation to store it away safely.
- Carrying cash: I put my cash everywhere on my body. I have some in my little coin purse, in my bra, in my boots or wherever. I never bring too much cash that i’ll be upset should something disastrous happen , i’ll just suck up the loss. Fingers crossed, this has not happened to me at all.
BUT ERIKA, WHAT CARDS DO YOU USE?
Good question. And here are the cards and banks I use:
- First Hawaiian Check Card: My local bank here in Hawaii is First Hawaiian Bank. I bring their card with me for several reasons: a. They are a local bank, and should anything happen to my other cards etc. ( this is the last resort card I use because it imposes fees on me) someone back home can go to my bank and deposit money for me to use. It’s my back up
- Capital One 360: I love this bank. They are amazing. Besides having a checking account and card with them i have several savings accounts and it makes it easy to transfer money while traveling. Should something happen, I can simply move all my money out of my account back to a savings and save my money. What I like about using this card is that there are ZERO foreign transaction fees, ZERO ATM fees , and a $1,000 a day limit and $10,000 a day charge limit. Makes it the best companion I have I truly love them. It’s my Go to ATM card.
- American Express Delta Platinum Card I have this card and purchase most of my flights on it because I’m a sky team member with Delta and it helps me earn miles on said purchases. American Express has the best security on earth in my opinion. I’ve had a few instances and they knew exactly that it wasn’t me. You also don’t need to call them to tell them of your travel plans, because they already know when you are there. I know it sounds really Big Brother Scary, but I feel safe. My initial offer came with 30,000 miles after the first $5000 in spending in 3 months so that was good for me. They also have no foreign transaction Fees 🙂 Any airline card IMO is a good one to have if you are a loyalist to them.
- Barclay Arrivals Plus World Master Card: I love this card. It is amazing. First, No foreign transaction fees what so ever. It also has a great introductory deal. 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 . Points can be used for travel statement credits. i.e.. Earn your 50,000 points , purchase hotels or flights, even Airbnb qualifies, and use your points to knock them off your statement: Hotel : $150, ( gone off statement ) Flight: $400 ( gone off statement) plus you get 10% back of your points you’ve used so If i used 45,000 points to credit my flight and hotel, I still have 5000 point left, but will also get back 4,500 ( 10%) back into my points… They have chip technology which most of the world uses now, and really great bells and whistles… Check them out
So my 4 cards plus a $1000 in cash ( $3000 this time since it’s Argentina but I knew that because I did what? RESEARCH!!!!!!) and I’m set for my next hot destination.
I hope this has helped . If you have any questions please feel free to ask