Best way to carry money

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Best way to carry money

Avatar for adam smith

Total Posts: 2

Joined 2013-07-26

Hey im travelling South East Asia soon and i was wondering what is the best way to carry money around? I know of a few travel cards but im not sure which is the best one?

Any advice welcome smile

Avatar for Vicky

Total Posts: 378

Joined 2012-11-01

Hey Adam,

Have you seen Saunders and Ollie’s adventures?

They travelled through South East Asia in April and reported back for us. You can check it all out at

They used a Brandex card, which they found to be the best from their independent research.

Personally, I’ve never actually used one but I’ll be looking it up for my upcoming trip to Central America so I’d be interested to hear if you do any research.

Avatar for sam_c

Total Posts: 36

Joined 2006-07-14

Hey, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself!

I’m heading to SE Asia in a few months and I still don’t know how best to carry my money.

Traveller’s cheques
I don’t think I’ll be using these. Their use is declining so I don’t know how easy they’re going to be to exchange. Travel cards are equally as secure.

Pre-paid travel cards
There are so many options and so many difference types of charges it’s mind boggling! There are cross-border fees, inactivity fees, redemption fees when you come back and want to get your money back. I’ve tried to research a few but I still don’t understand when or how much I’ll be charged! Plus, there’s only one I’ve heard of that you can use for multiple currencies (Travelex’s Cash Passport Globe), the rest you can only have one currency on it.

Debit card
I have a few bank accounts so I may keep all of my money in one account and leave the debit card for that account at home. I’ll take the other debit cards with me and I’ll use online banking to transfer money into the first account as and when I need it. That way, if the card is lost/stolen there is only a small amount of money that can be taken.

While I won’t be taking all of my money in cash (that would just be stupid!) I will ensure that I always have dollars in cash with me at all times. They’re accepted in most SE Asian countries, I hear.

Sorry, not much help, I know! But helped me work a few things out in my head.

I think I’m just gonna take my debit card and carry small amounts of cash in dollars. I may take a travel card too and top it up with an emergency balance.

Avatar for m.garratt

Total Posts: 3008

Joined 2004-05-30

Money Saving Expert have a good round up of all the best cards for travelling. Check it out HERE

Credit Cards definitely offer a good option these days. While most cards charge high transaction fees, there’s a couple of credit cards that are fee free. I use the Halifax Clarity Credit Card that offers very good exchange rates, no fees and only 12.9% interest on cash advances, so that’s only about 1% between withdrawing the cash and when my direct debit pays in off in full a month later. I pay for transactions by card whenever possible and don’t get charged a penny for these.

I think the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society is still offering their Gold Light Current Account with no fees and free foreign cash withdrawals. Metro Bank in London also offers free withdrawals.

Back in 2004-05 I took a bank card, an alternative bank account card, 2 different credit cards, a load of travellers cheques and a couple of hundred dollars cash. Probably overkill, but I like to be prepared for any eventuality.
I found that I didn’t need Travellers Cheques much, although I did use them a few times - in a remote part of India, in Laos and Cambodia where there weren’t any ATMs in 2004 and in South Africa when I needed a lot of cash. I don’t know how things have changed, but it certainly was good/reassuring to have an alternative to needing an ATM.

Avatar for *nikki180188*

Total Posts: 1137

Joined 2009-03-17

Metrobank don’t do free ATM withdrawals anymore- that boat has sailed i’m afraid, I’m currently using one and it just appears that they take £1 each time, no biggie. I think however in Europe it may still be free, I can’t remember!

I can’t stress enough- TAKE AT LEAST TWO CARDS WITH YOU AND KEEP THEM SEPARATE. That way, when the angry ATM machine swallows your card, or you lose your wallet, or god forbid your mum WAS actually right and you DO get mugged, you are not up shit creek without a paddle (and no cash).

I’ve got a nationwide credit card and it’s been great to bring travelling! In Asia I used it to pay for things like flights (even in local little travel shops), tours, bigger purchases etc and like m.garratt, it doesn’t cost me a penny and I ALWAYS get a better rate than WIN.

I am away now and I have my credit card, a nationwide debit card and a metrobank debit card.
I use metrobank to withdraw cash and my nationwide is there as my back-up, stored separately in my backpack. All my savings are tucked away in the cyberspace universe, and every now and again I transfer over to metrobank so i can take it out. I leave money on my nationwide debit card for emergencies but also as my credit card is paid off from that one.

I don’t honestly understand the ‘need’ for a travel pre-paid card,unless I guess you have a god awful debit account (santander, for example) and need to find a quick cheap alternative. Is anyone else able to enlighten me on the benefits of a pre-paid travel card over using your actual debit card? I carried a caxton card for nearly a year and never used it, just seems extras hassle to move my money to another place? Banking and numbers are not my strong point though, maybe i’m missing something!

Also as far as I know, caxton and fairfx both offe rcards that are ‘multi-currency’ (or they did a few years back anyway). By stating they are ‘one currency’ or whatever, these cards can then charge you hidden fees as you will 9 out of 10 times be withdrawing in another currency….Again, another reason I didn’t bother to use it. My partner took a fairfx one and always ended off like £5-10 worse off than me for each withdrawal.

Avatar for Tony Lester

Total Posts: 23

Joined 2013-09-20

Norwich and Peterborough don’t charge for foreign transactions

Avatar for daniellet91

Total Posts: 15

Joined 2012-07-02

I took my debit card from home (only used for booking flights and a few hostels on the internet)
£ fairfx card (so I could use anywhere)
$ caxton card (used in the US)
£ ICE card (I got two - one was the main card, and another a backup, but I couldn’t top up the backup card if my main one was lost, once I used the money on it, it was essentially useless)

After having my ICE card hacked (luckily I got the money back and they were very helpful), that left me with 3 cards.

My caxton I didn’t want to use in Asia unless I had to because it’s a $ card so I get hit twice with currency exchanges.

My Fairfx card was good, until I lost it/got stolen, but the were helpful and did send me another card with the funds still there (but they sent it to my house in the UK…pretty useless when you’re in Asia haha)

Debit card I tried not to use, because I think it was like 6% transaction fees. When I got desperate, I had to ring them up telling them to unblock my card so I could use it in Asia

I CANNOT stress enough…take some emergency cash hidden somewhere, maybe $100+. I was left with a blocked debit card and no cash when I got to Ho Chi Minh City, and it was a very stressful experience which ended up with an angry moto driver taking me to the British Embassy!

Ultimately, i’m glad I took the amount of cards I did.

Avatar for sam_c

Total Posts: 36

Joined 2006-07-14

Norwich and Peterborough do a current account where there are no purchase or ATM fees BUT you have to have a minimum balance of £5000 OR transfer £500 per month into the account. They also offer personal belongings insurance but I don’t have the paper work through on this yet so don’t know the Tc & Cs.

When I go on my SE Asia trip this will be my main card. I will also take my NatWest & RBS cards for back-up. NationWide has slightly cheaper fees but I already have 4 current accounts, I’m not opening another. My other account is TSB - their charges are higher than NatWest so I’m not taking that one.

Halifax do a Clarity credit card that has good rates if you’ve got good credit but they wouldn’t let me have one as I’m quitting my job and will have no income.

The cash passport cards are only good because they’re not attached to your bank account but the charges are really high and exchange rates bad. I’m not bothering with one. I’ll keep just enough money in my main N&P account so that if the worst happens, not all of my savings are in there.

I will also make sure I always have some cash in US dollars.

Avatar for Vicky

Total Posts: 378

Joined 2012-11-01

Interesting information. I’ve always just travelled with a credit card and a debit card and never really had any bother. I’ve just been looking into the prepaid cards and I don’t really get the point either as you still have to pay to take money out. Sounds like too much effort, and it’s just another thing to carry around.

Think I’m going to stick to what I know in this case.

Avatar for Jordan85

Total Posts: 583

Joined 2009-01-07

When i did my first RTW trip I took 2 debit cards and a credit card.

Main debit card said it did not charge for overseas withdrawals but found out over there that you were charge by ATM operator per withdrawal. Therefore would get out about £300 a time to minimise amount of fees (about £3 per time). The other debit card charged me for overseas withdrawls but the ATM didn’t (if that makes sense!). Definite’y, definitey have 2 cards with you. One of mine got eaten in Fiji on the way to the airpor and had to send a panicked email home asking mum to transfer funds in to my other account otherwise I would have no cash when I landed in LA 12 hours later!!!

Also always carry some dollars - useful for changing and some SE Asia countries only accept dollars for hotel bookings.

Avatar for RachelBell

Total Posts: 5

Joined 2013-09-05

Absolutely defnitely carry more than one card with you, you never know what might happen. And yeah, I like the idea of stashing cash in your bag - always good to have back up and a Plan B!