Are you planning a trip to Europe this year? If you are, you could do worse than check out Lonely Planet’s recent article*, “How to save money on your European trip in 2024? Ask a local”. It’s a great collection of useful hints and tips gathered from local experts who know their stuff.
For example, did you know that you’ll usually pay more for a coffee if you sit at a café table in Italy, rather than perch by the bar? Or that in Portugal you’ll be charged for the bread that’s casually left at your table while you wait for your food? Small things, but on a long trip they’ll add up. And in the same breath you’ll probably want to give thought not just to what you pay, but how you pay too.
We’re so used to paying by card, we forget just how useful cash can be.
In the midst of digital payments and card transactions, carrying cash might seem outdated. However, there are compelling reasons why having cash makes sense, especially for tourists traveling from the USA to Europe.
First, cash is king in many places. While metropolitan areas in Europe are card-friendly, smaller towns, local markets, and certain services still prefer or solely accept cash. Carrying cash ensures you’re never caught off guard when a card machine isn’t available or if there are technical issues.
Second, cash transactions can save you money. Using your card abroad often incurs additional charges, such as transaction fees or less favorable exchange rates. These can add up, even if your vacation is a “quick” two weeks. Cash transactions, on the other hand, are straightforward and fee-free once you have the currency.
Plan ahead to ensure best value
Obtaining cash travel money can prove expensive, particularly if you’re exchanging money at airports or tourist spots, where rates are often unfavorable. This is where pre-travel currency exchange services, like Money 4 Travel, become invaluable. Money 4 Travel allows you to order foreign currency in advance from your smart phone or pc, and collect it at your chosen branch before you travel. It’s convenient, and it enables your credit union to offer better exchange rates than last-minute alternatives.
This means you can start your European journey with peace of mind. You’ll have the right currency for your trip without the hassle of finding an exchange service upon arrival. And remember, if your itinerary includes UK, they never adopted the Euro and they’re out of the EU, so you’ll need British pounds to hop over the Channel.
How Do I Know my Credit Union Uses Money 4 Travel?
The best thing to do is ask! More and more credit unions are adopting this service, because it’s easy to use and is highly cost effective. But you may not see the Money 4 Travel name, as the service will be embedded in the Credit Union app or website. So why not ask – knowing it’s there will save you time (you won’t have to stand in line) and it will be one more thing you can tick off your list before you head to the airport. And as you pack your bags for Europe, remember: a little cash can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience.
By Declan Morton, staff writer at Money 4 Travel and Essiell Ltd.
*How to save money on your European trip in 2024? Ask a local – Lonely Planet, January 1, 2024