Cash – not always king, but ALWAYS useful

Digital transactions dominate payment. They’re quick and convenient, so what’s not to like? But the world is never quite as we expect. That’s where cash, especially while traveling abroad, often gets overlooked. For tourists abroad and business travelers alike, the ease of swiping a card for every transaction is undeniable. However, there are compelling reasons to carry local cash as well.

Five Reasons to Embrace Cash on Your Travels

Let’s acknowledge the convenience and the security offered by credit and bank cards. They eliminate the need to carry large amounts of cash and offer consumer protections such as fraud monitoring and easy cancellation if lost or stolen.

Yet, cash remains an indispensable travel companion for several reasons.

  1. Wider Acceptance: In many destinations, especially in rural or less developed areas, cash is essential. Markets, local eateries, or small vendors may not have card facilities, making cash vital for many small purchases.
  2. Budget Control: Using cash helps monitor cash flow – literally. It’s easier to track spending and limit overspending. In the UK, travelers under the age of 25 are increasingly using pre-bought foreign currency cash as a means of staying in control of their spending*. If you’re early in your career, with many calls on your wallet, this is not a bad strategy.
  3. Avoiding Fees: Card transactions abroad often incur additional transactions fees or dynamic currency conversion charges. Cash helps bypass these costs, especially when bought before leaving home.
  4. Emergency Backup: In scenarios where there’s a loss or theft of a card, or card systems are down, having cash provides a safety net. And with freak weather events becoming the norm, natural disasters which can cripple infrastructure are no longer “once-in-a-decade” occurrences. Having cash in your wallet can be essential.
  5. Cultural Practices: In many cultures, tipping or small transactions are typically handled in cash. Plus, some cash-only experiences, like local markets or street vendors, are part of the whole travel adventure.

Pre-Travel Preparation: Getting Your Currency

For the savvy traveler, the best practice is to obtain foreign currency before heading to the airport, where exchange rates are often less favorable. This is where services like Money 4 Travel come into the picture. Offering convenience, competitive rates, and the assurance of a reliable financial institution, Money 4 Travel enables travelers to obtain their travel money effortlessly.

Money 4 Travel: Simplifying Foreign Exchange

Using Money 4 Travel – typically embedded in a credit union mobile app or their online banking facility – consumers can purchase foreign currency quickly and easily. It saves time and offers better exchange rates compared to airport kiosks or tourist spots. For financial institutions, integrating Money 4 Travel into their services adds value for their customers. It enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as delivering efficiencies that benefit back office functions.

In practice, few travelers leave home without their bank cards, but cash’s versatility cannot be overstated. It offers flexibility, security, and a way to immerse more fully in the local culture. For financial institutions, providing easy access to foreign currency through services like Money 4 Travel positions them as essential partners in their customers’ travel journeys. It’s not just a transaction; it’s about enhancing the overall experience for their clients.

By Declan Morton, staff writer at Travel 4 Money and Essiell Ltd.

*More under-25s choose cash for holiday spending… as it helps them budget – This is Money, January 5, 2024

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