Cash or Plastic?

February 1st, 2006

These days it’s pretty easy to get to your hard earned cash while abroad. Banks have made it so easy for you and why? Because they’ll charge you a nice fat service fee to do it. Which would you prefer? Carrying $500 worth of Brazilian Reals with you to Sao Paolo or taking a bit out at a time while there? Whether you change it at home into Reals or withdraw it from a local bank machine, you’ll probably end up paying roughly the same amount.

Credit Cards? They’ll take ’em pretty much anywhere except for more rural areas where cash is still king. The market penetration of Visa and Mastercard, to name the big boys, is nothing short of impressive. They’ll charge you too though, you’ll get a worse exchange rate but you know what? When you’re cruising down the boulevard in central Mexico City at 3 am with $500 dollars in your pocket, that’s your problem, at least with your credit card you can cancel it in a jiffy.

It’s really up to you what you do with your money but my opinion is to take a bit of local currency with you and use your cards to draw cash while away. Check with your home bank that they have agreements in place with the banking institutions where you’re going. Don’t forget though, there aren’t too many bank machines in the Himalayas, bring some cash so you can pay your Sherpa!

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