Cash – still vital in a cashless economy

While digital payments dominate our everyday lives in developed countries, cash remains crucial for many, and especially when traveling beyond familiar territory. Recent travel trends and expert opinions shed some light on the resurgence of cash in a digital world.

The Rise of Digital

The convenience of tapping and swiping is undeniable. In the US, according to Statista, at least 89% of Americans use one or more forms of digital payment. In the UK, according to trade association UK Finance,  the volume of cashless payments rose from 45% to 85% per cent in the decade to 2021. But while digital dominated for daily purchases, its limitations emerge when you travel the world.

The Tourist Trail and Beyond (Cash is for More Than Convenience)

The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go This Year” (January 10, 2024) features 15 North American destinations and 37 spread across the globe. Europe beckons with 13 locations, including the UK and Ireland. Both attract many Americans, with cultural ties and (almost) the same language. Asia entices with 8 diverse locales, from Japan to Sumatra. Other gems like Madagascar, Albania, Morocco, and Nepal round out the list. While some of these destinations embrace card payments, countless others, especially off the beaten path, rely heavily on cash.

In his article “A cashless society? Not if you’re a tourist” (The National, February 14, 2024), Chris Blackhurst delves deeper into the enduring appeal of cash for travelers. Aside from wider acceptance, cash offers practical advantages. It helps manage vacation spending separately from regular expenses, providing clarity and budget control. And there’s something intrinsically satisfying about holding the local currency, connecting with the culture in a tangible way.

Hidden Benefits of Cash

There are other advantages too. Although ubiquitous in developed economies and a great many urban areas elsewhere, digital payment is not universally available. Nor is there yet any single payment network that functions globally, so one card may not work everywhere you go. And card payments can be subject to network interruptions, especially in remote locations. Further, on occasion you may feel uncomfortable with the level of security surrounding card payment devices, so cash can be invaluable there too.

Seamless Cash Access – Your Credit Union to the Rescue

Obtaining foreign currency is often seen as an expensive hassle but it shouldn’t be. That’s where credit unions and Money 4 Travel come in. This innovative digital service, increasingly adopted by credit unions, allows you to easily pre-order your travel money online from a smartphone or PC. Choosing your local branch for pickup, ensures convenience.

For the credit union there are benefits too: painless integration, improved back-office efficiencies, and easy use at the point of sale. And why Money 4 Travel and credit unions together? The combination of Money 4 travel’s efficiency and convenience, and the credit union not-for-profit motive, empowers the combination of competitive rates and excellent service.

Cash-in on a Hassle-free Travel Experience

So, while digital payments do offer convenience in our daily lives, don’t underestimate the importance of cash when you explore abroad. By incorporating cash into your travel strategy, you unlock wider acceptance, budgeting control, and a deeper connection with the local culture. And for a seamless foreign exchange experience, consider seeking out a credit union that makes things easy  – with Money 4 Travel.

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


For Reference:

Digital Payments Statistics in 2024 (Latest U.S. & Global Data), Statista /, January 15, 2024

52 Places to Go This Year,  New York Times,  January 10, 2024

A cashless society? Not if you’re a tourist, The National, February 14, 2024

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