Travelling with money

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, during the 2018-2019 period, a record 11.2 million Australian residents took overseas trips. For so many of us jetting-off, choosing the best and safest way to access cash can be quite complex. It helps to look at the pros and cons for the options available.


While many countries move to a cashless economy, hard currency is still widely accepted.


  • Purchase international currency in advance.
  • Access favourable exchange rates.
  • Budgeting is easy.


  • Difficulty estimating how much you’ll need.
  • Cannot be used online.
  • Lost or stolen cash is difficult to replace through insurance.


Cards are commonly used though you’ll need to decide whether a debit card or credit card is best for you.

Credit card Pros

  • Easy to track spending.
  • Protection if the card is lost or stolen.
  • Widely accepted.
  • The card company manages the currency conversion for you.
  • Some cards include travel insurance deals.
  • Pay off trip expenses in monthly instalments.

Credit card Cons

  • Some forms of transportation won’t accept cards.
  • Purchase transaction fees may apply.
  • ATM withdrawal and currency exchange fees usually apply.
  • Cash advances may attract additional fees or higher interest rates.
  • Risk of unauthorised use to credit card limit.

Debit card Pros

  • Easy to track spending.
  • Access cash via ATMs.
  • Take advantage of favourable exchange rates.
  • Accepted almost anywhere.
  • Cards can be blocked or cancelled if lost or stolen.

Debit card Cons

  • Cards must be ‘loaded’ with currency in advance.
  • ATM withdrawal and currency exchange fees can apply.
  • Some forms of transportation won’t accept cards.
  • Loading lag time – plan ahead.
  • Risk of unauthorised use if lost or stolen.


Travel money card
These cards have all the pros and cons of Debit cards while enabling you to:

  • Load multiple currencies
  • Top up currencies as needed
  • Limited risk if lost or stolen.


Travellers’ cheques

Not so common these days, but still a viable option for some people.


  • Purchase in advance to lock-in favourable exchange rates.
  • Easily replaced if lost or stolen.
  • Some stores accept them as cash.


  • Difficult to estimate how much you’ll need.
  • Not accepted in some stores.

Regardless of your chosen form of currency, consider the following precautions:

  • Advise your bank about your plans.
  • Use a secondary money method as a back-up.
  • Use a RFID blocking wallet to prevent scanners from ‘reading’ your card’s details. They’re inexpensive and widely available online or luggage stores.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere; keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
  • Beware of ATM skimmers; learn what to look for before leaving home.
  • Only use reputable money exchangers.
  • Use your hotel’s safe to store valuables.
  • Some countries restrict the amount of cash you can carry in/out.
  • Record your trip with

Choosing the right money option is important for safety and security. Think carefully about your destination and needs, and do your homework before you leave to enjoy a safe and worry-free trip.

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