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The benefits of using cash overseas

When it comes to travelling overseas, there are certain benefits of every money-access method, but cash continues to be important.

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While debit, credit and travel money cards provide convenience and security, there is always a place for good old-fashioned cash. There are always going to be situations where cash is required while overseas, and it makes perfect sense to carry enough with you to keep you out of trouble.

The benefits of using cash overseas

With so many different options available, there are going to be pros and cons for every money-access method while overseas, but one of the major reasons to carry cash while travelling is that many countries are not as sophisticated as Australia when it comes to electronic-style banking.

For instance, you’ll find when travelling to the United States, they are a nation that works on tipping. Tipping can be a lot easier if you have physical cash. Similarly, if you’re travelling to more regional or remote parts of the world, cash is possibly going to be the only way you can make purchases (you’re unlikely to find an EFTPOS machine in the middle of Tanzania).

Travelling with cash overseas can also be convenient when it comes to smaller charges. If a store has a minimum payment on card, you’ll have the cash there to still buy that souvenir. When it comes to acceptance of your card, you’re also not going to get knocked back (unless of course, you don’t have enough money) if the merchant doesn’t accept your card.

Another benefit of travelling with cash is that an exchange rate is locked in when you trade your cash into the required currency. This is one of the major benefits of having cash in hand over using your credit or debit card for all purchases, because it allows you to track exactly how much you’re spending without having to work out exchange rates on a day-to-day basis.

You can also reduce the number of overseas currency conversion fees you pay if you reduce the number of times you tap or swipe your card while travelling.

Where to use cash overseas

The best thing about using cash overseas is that it’s likely to be accepted everywhere, so it is useful to ensure you’re not going to get caught short when in a foreign land. However, one thing to remember about cash is that it can be easier to lose and extremely hard to insure, so make sure you don’t carry too much at one time, and ensure you know where it is on your person at all times. Otherwise you could reach for your pocket to pay for dinner at a beautiful Italian restaurant, and find yourself a little red-faced.

Where to get foreign cash

Getting your hands on foreign currency is easy.

  • Visiting a bank branch: Your bank will be able to trade your Aussie dollars for foreign currency.
  • Making a withdrawal at a foreign ATM: If you’re planning to get cash out of a foreign ATM with your Aussie bank card, keep in mind the exchange rate and foreign ATM fees.
  • Travel specialists: Travel agencies such as Flight Centre will usually offer a cash exchange service.
  • Currency exchange services: You can order foreign cash online and have it delivered to you, which may be the most convenient exchange option. You may also find better exchange rates when purchasing online but this may be counteracted with a delivery fee or similar. Usually, currency purchased using this method is delivered to you within a couple of working days.

Some things to remember about travelling with cash

You often hear horror stories of people travelling abroad with nothing but cash, having it all stolen and being left stranded for the rest of their trip. The reality is that if you protect yourself and use the right amount of caution, travelling with cash can be extremely effective and convenient. A great way to travel is with a combination of cash carrying methods including cash, credit or debit cards and travel money cards, but overall, having cash on-hand while overseas is still incredibly important part of a memorable foreign holiday. 

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