A: Enough for cash tips (think: bellman & drivers), souvenirs and mom & pop shops.
In our opinion, everything else should go on a credit card (preferably a card that offers travel reward points).
If you’re traveling domestically, we recommend carrying less than $100 in cash. If you get desperate for more money, there is most likely an ATM around the corner.
If you’re traveling internationally, we recommend dividing your cash into different wallets, bags, and purses, in case one of those items gets lost (or stolen). Also, small bills are handy in the smaller, family-owned shops, as many do not accept credit cards or large bills.
A: Major credit cards (vs. debit cards).
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted anywhere you travel. If you’re heading overseas, American Express will become more difficult to use, or not accepted at all in some destinations.
Even though your debit card may carry the Visa or Mastercard logo, it doesn’t mean you can use it for all transactions. EX: if you reserve certain rental car types, they require a major credit card and will not accept a debit card.
Before you depart, be sure to alert your credit card company to avoid any fraudulent holds and to verify your card does not carry any foreign transaction fees.
A: Two credit cards and one debit card.
Having two credit cards allows you to have a backup plan in case one gets lost (or stolen), gets temporary locked by your credit card company, or isn’t accepted. We recommend having cards from two different companies (EX: 1 Visa and 1 MasterCard). A debit card allows you to withdraw money from an ATM. When possible, use a bank ATM. Bonus: if your bank reimburses transaction fees, certainly report those upon arriving back home!
A: Always pay in local currency.
If you have the option of paying in local currency, always choose that option. If you pay in your home currency, the vendor may add on an extra charge, sometimes up to 5%. So next time you’re in Europe, pay in Euros vs. US dollars.
Now that we’re all square on money, money, money, you’re ready to pack.
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