A big part of travelling is what to do with your money while on the road. You spend all them hours working away to save up for your big trip only to lose loads of it on ATM and transactions fees. What’s the best way to avoid these fees and keep your money safe at the same time.
Thankfully some banks are helpful and have fee-free spending while abroad. Many banks offer travel credit cards which have no ATM or transaction fees while your abroad. Plus, the benefit of a credit card is if something does go wrong or you purchase a faulty item, for example, you should normally be able to claim back any money from your bank. Barclaycard Platinum currently offers no fees abroad on purchases and cash withdrawals until 31st August 2023. I’m sure they are a multitude of other banks which offer similar services if you’d prefer to bank with someone else (check the link below). A quick google search of travel credit cards should offer up plenty of results. Credit cards are also handy for emergencies if something goes wrong and you don’t have a load of cash on you right that second. Therefore, carrying a credit card could double up as a safety net if you need it and your main source of funds could come from one of the other options below.
What if however, you either have poor credit so some of the travelling credit cards simply aren’t available to you or you want to reserve spending money on that credit card for a rainy day if needed. Well thankfully some banks also offer fee-free spending and cash withdrawals when abroad on debit cards as well. These banks are new to the game and often won’t be your old-fashioned high-street banks, but rest assured they are equally as credible as your common household names. The two biggest players in this respect are Monzo and Starling, which are app-based banks and don’t have branches, which is probably why they are able to offer the travelling perks that they do. I used my Starling Debit card around the whole of Asia and now in Australia and would highly recommend it to people travelling anywhere. Simply pay money into your account via the app, like any normal debit account and then your free to withdraw up to £300 of cash a day and can use the card transactions fees free on any card purchase you make, regardless of currency. It really is just like using your debit card at home, but instead of paying in pounds sterling, you could be paying in Euros, Thai Baht or Aussie Dollars. The card is also provided by Mastercard which often has better conversion rates compared to Visa so you’re guaranteed to get a good price. The price you pay in the foreign currency is converted to pounds sterling based on the exchange rate for that currency at the time and that amount is then debited from your account (ensure you always select to pay in the foreign currency and not £ if prompted to do so as this ensure you get a better rate). I would seriously recommend anyone travelling abroad, regardless of destination to set up one or both debit accounts. It’s quick, easy and free to do so. Simply download the apps and you could save a fortune when on your next holiday abroad. Besides if you have both you can then keep one card in your wallet and the other safely locked up in the hotel in case your card is stolen or lost.
Below are link addresses to both the Starling and Monzo websites for you to look at. If you decided to sign up to Starling, I’d be grateful if you use the referral code. I’ll be honest I have no idea what benefit it has by doing so but I assume hopefully we both get a little reward if you do. The same goes for joining Monzo if you use the referral link then you shall get a free £5 when you open your Monzo account. Obviously, feel free not to use either if you really don’t want to.
Starling referral code: CXF6DTZN
Referral link for free £5 when opening a Monzo account
Cash cards are very similar to debit cards in the same respect that you top them up with money before you go and then use them abroad. Nowadays many cash cards even come with there own app to manage your money better much like the debit cards above. The benefit (or downside) with cash cards is you can normally lock in the rate of exchange you want before you go, so if for example, you plan to head to Europe after Brexit (if it ever happens) it might be worth locking in you Pounds to Euro rate now as opposed to likely getting a worse rate in the future (purely an example). On the flip side, you might lock in your rate prematurely and then when you travel, you could have been able to get a better one. Additionally, some cash cards let you spend on a variety of currency’s not just the one you loaded before your trip. This isn’t a worry if you’ll only be using one currency but if travelling to multiple countries check that the cash card covers all destinations you may be visiting. To be honest with you I didn’t even look at cash cards as the Starling and Monzo card seemed to be just as good and probably better than the cash card. They may not be for your liking though, so I’ve attached a useful link regarding travel cash cards below which has far more information than I can provide and a few examples of the best ones.
Finally, it’s always good to carry a little bit of cash on you before you go and to keep hold of this for emergencies as well. If you’re just travelling to one country, then obviously change up some money into this currency and keep it somewhere safe while you travel. If you’re travelling to a multitude of destinations its probably best to carry some US Dollars which will be widely accepted or can be exchanged for the local currency when and where if you need it.
Be aware with all the various cards I have mentioned, even though the issuing bank may not charge you conversion fees, the ATM which you end up using could still charge you a fee so be mindful of this. Search which banks are best to use in your destination country and which ones if any charge a fee. You can then plan to use these banks when abroad to get out cash to further eliminate any charges you may incur.
Additionally, before taking out any of the products I have mentioned be sure to read the small print and to check that the product is suitable for your needs. I have put this article together to help people, but I’m no monetary expert, so do some of your own research first before selecting your best option.