Back in July 2014, Transport for London could not wait to announce 70 new ATM machines installed throughout the London Underground that dispense both pounds and euros. Their press release explained how easy it would be for travellers to get the cash they needed on the way to the airport or train station. However, a second look might lead you to wonder if the ATMs are actually that good for travellers.
The question is whether withdrawing and exchanging cash is a wise travelling decision or not. Of course, you might want cash to pay for some of your transactions around town, but most experts recommend staying away from cash when you travel. Instead, they recommend credit cards, prepaid cash cards, or travellers cheques. On the outside chance you do want to have cash on hand when you travel, here are the best and worst ways to go about it:
The Best Way: Credit Card
If you have a credit card that offers the opportunity for cash advances, this is probably your best bet. There will be small exchange fees involved, typically between 3% and 8% at most. Furthermore, you will avoid interest as long as you pay your bill in full when it comes due.
A Better Way: Bank ATM Card
Nearly every bank will allow you to use your ATM card to withdraw cash in a foreign country. Their fees and exchange rates are very manageable as well. If your bank has international locations, you may not incur any withdrawal fees at all.
A Worse Way: Cash Exchange
It is entirely possible these days to exchange your cash at either your departing or destination airport. Nevertheless, watch out; exchange rates and processing fees may not be what you expect. You could easily be ripped off by unscrupulous moneychangers.
The Worst Way: Prepaid Cash Cards
Many experts recommend prepaid cash cards because of their security features and consumer protections. If security and consumer protection are your priorities, then it is hard to do better than the prepaid card. Nonetheless, if you do not want to get ripped off on exchange rates and user fees, stay away from the cards. They charge far too much to make them worthwhile.
How you manage your money when you travel is important. So know the exchange rates and processing fees if you plan to exchange cash.