A few months ago, a friend called asking me whether I thought it was better to take foreign exchange in the form of cash when travelling, or to rather use her credit card. I thought I would write a blog post about what we do so that the next time I am asked, I can send the friend a link. In the ‘old day’s you used to get travellers cheques and these were the only way you could exchange money. When I travelled to Israel I got travellers cheques in Dollars and then had to stand in a queue in a bank to cash these in for Shekels. The value of the Shekel was so volatile that my friends at the front of the queue got a different exchange rate to the friends at the end of the long line. Nowadays I get currency for the country I am travelling to, as long as that the currency is Euros / Dollars / Pounds. For any other currency I would get Dollars and exchange them where I am going, remembering to exchange my change before I leave. I think it is much easier to get cash rather than use my credit card. Before I go, I know exactly how much money I can afford to spend while I am away. I go to my bank to change my Rands for foreign exchange and then I take the money I have, divide it between the days I am travelling, and that is my budget. Basically, I know exactly how much I have to spend. As the Rand can crash in a matter of minutes I am not going to be surprised when I get home and get my credit card statement. I always take my credit card with me overseas, for use in emergencies and for when I have no choice but to use it. I would not recommend taking travellers cheques as they need to be exchanged at a bank, and in some places, banks are only open in the mornings.
This is my advice for people travelling from South Africa overseas. When you travel do you take cash or use your credit card?
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