Foreign Exchange And My Opinion On What To Do

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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21 thoughts on “Foreign Exchange And My Opinion On What To Do

  1. I guess I’m lucky as most of my travel nowadays is within the UK or Europe and I can use accounts I have without incurring commission or costs. When venturing further afield I tend to take cash out using a debit card if I run out and only use the credit card for larger transactions.

  2. This is great advice Tandy! When I was with my sister visiting France, we had a huge emergency and no cash on hand (we were just 2 girls girls and afraid then). Then we needed a taxi and found we had to pay in cash. Disaster.

  3. Always take cash and the credit card for emergencies only. I would suggest exchanging any left over cash at the airport before coming home too, I currently have about $50 in random Asian currency in the bottom of my handbag. Not helpful at all! 🙂

  4. I used to get cash from our back for the currencies of the country I was visiting but the transaction fees were high. I now have a debit card that I use in the country I’m visiting using banks ATMs to get cash that incurs no fees and the exchange rates of the local banks are usually the best. I also carry a credit card that also incurs no transaction fees. I think it is good to investigate all possibilities a month or two before a trip.

  5. Thanks for this awesome guide on Foreign Exchange. There are some solid points discussed here in this content. You must also be careful when you’re transferring the money as many of the New Users keep this step for the last time and get himself in trouble as the foreign exchange rates change constantly.

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