If you travel frequently and you’ve noticed a distinct drop in your use of travellers’ cheques, you’re not alone. Travellers’ cheques are indeed becoming a once-preferred method of carrying money while travelling which is dying out, largely due to the fact that the convenience factor of travelling with money has shifted from merely being able to easily access your money to safety considerations.
For the novice traveller, nobody needs to tell you about the different safety concerns which apply to tourists visiting different countries. I mean it would take a special level of ignorance to not at least do a bit of reading up about the destination you’re planning to visit, particularly with regards to crime, the types of crimes and how that relates to tourists. Tourists often make for very specific targets by way of criminals, even petty ones at times, trying to find some way of conning you out of your money.
If they’re still accepted at whatever destination you’re visiting, travellers’ cheques perhaps sill have a place in the money-handling considerations of travellers. You can also use travellers’ cheques as a deterrent to wandering petty criminal eyes which are looking for any opportunity to confirm whether or not you’re carrying any hard cash on you. Don’t make travellers’ cheques your main form of carrying currency while you’re travelling overseas though, because you’ll probably be subjected to the delays which come with the generally cumbersome verification process associated with them.
Mix Things Up
Look, if you can go as cashless as you can, then that’s what you should do. Going completely cashless is perhaps out of the question though, quite simply because what would you do if you wanted to tip a cab driver for instance, or you saw a souvenir sold by a road-side vendor you just simply had to take back home with you? Your credit card or pre-loaded debit card won’t help you much in that situation, so too your payment app perhaps. Also, consider what would happen if your phone got lost or stolen or your online payment got intercepted by a hacker who now has your details? While you can install things like a nordvpn before you set off on your travels to help add extra security onto your phone to prevent hackers from getting to your information, if you lose your phone, you will lose your only means of paying for things. So the key is to mix things up.
Generally, three ways though which to carry your money while travelling will suffice, both in terms of safety and convenience.
Pre-Loaded Debit Card
MasterCard is famous for issuing pre-loaded, re-loadable debit cards which are available through various platforms, such as BitGold, Payoneer and even from more conventional banking outlets such as Virgin Money. The dedicated online platforms which offer pre-loaded MasterCard services are often much cheaper than those offered by conventional banking outlets though, otherwise this is a great way to effectively “carry money” you can access at any ATM around the world. You can also pay for shopping at virtually any point of sale service, and perhaps even withdraw money in that way. These cards are PIN and chip protected, so while you’ll still have to watch out for card skimmers and the likes, it’s like carrying cash with none of the risk – cash you can access as actual cash at a nearby ATM if needs be.
As I mentioned a little earlier, in many instances physical cash isn’t just the most practical option by way of an exchange medium, but is often the only option you’ll have available to you. Minimise the amount of cash you carry though by drawing only what you’ll really need to use in the immediate to near future and try to use the lowest denominations possible, as far as is practical of course.
Large bills open up a door to being cheated by being issued with counterfeit change and just flashing big bills around will draw some unwanted attention to you. Although, most stores have Counterfeit Detectors and will check to see if the bills you give are real, so if you are in doubt yourself, maybe ask them to do a quick check for you. In any case, it is always better to steer clear of such situations. Within reason, try and always tender the exact amount of money you need to pay for whatever you’re buying.
Primary Bank Card
In the specific case of a VISA card issued by your bank, pre-arrange with your bank for its possible use overseas by calling them up and letting them know of the dates on which you’re planning to travel. This will allow you to arrange some security features which limit the possible overuse of your card should it fall into the wrong hands, while also ensuring the built-in security feature doesn’t block your card while you’re overseas.