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A Guide to Spending Money Abroad

Want more bang for your bucks on vacation? Avoid hidden fees with this handy guide on spending money abroad and getting the most of your money......

13 July 2022

Banc Content

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Want more bang for your bucks on vacation? Avoid hidden fees with this handy guide on spending money abroad and getting the most of your money…


Slowly but surely, summer is on the way. And whether you’re taking the family abroad, planning a solo vacation, or doing a spot of international business, getting the most out of your money is just as important as packing sunscreen.

Spending money in other countries can spread your hard-earned cash a little thin. What you thought was a good chunk of change can quickly get hit by all kinds of different fees, leaving you with less spending money than you originally planned.

Want your money to go further while on vacation? You’re in the right place. From cash to cards, we’ll show you how to avoid being hit with unexpected extras during your upcoming trip.

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Is it Better to Take Cash or Card Abroad?

That depends. Some people like the security of using a card abroad. Not everyone will be happy about hopping on a plane and walking around a new country with physical money. And nothing says “tourist” like opening a wallet stuffed full of bills for all to see. All it takes is a sneaky distraction, a fleet-footed thief, and your money can be gone in seconds.

With that said, having cash on you could certainly come in useful. Not everywhere accepts cards, and you don’t want to get caught short when the final bill comes. It can also be easier to stick to a budget with physical money. If you’re a little on the spend-heavy side, it’s easy to get carried away and put everything straight on the credit card.

In general, though, the plastic approach is safer. If your card is stolen or goes missing, it’s a simple case of contacting your provider and canceling it immediately (something you can now do in most banking apps). But as this article will show, there’s a snag or two when using cards abroad that you’ll need to watch out for.

man using foreign currency on holiday

Taking Cash Abroad

If you’re thinking of taking cash with you, then you should convert it ahead of your trip. It might be tempting to change your money at the airport, but these often have the worst exchange rates. The same goes for trading money at hotel or currency kiosks at your destination. They can be pricey, and usually have poor rates and high fees.

The safest, least-expensive places to convert your cash include local banks and credit unions, as these tend to offer the best rates. Major banks, such as Chase or Bank of America, offer similar rates, plus they have the added benefit of having ATMs overseas, which is always handy if you’re running low on funds.

Online bureaus and currency converters, such as Travelex, can also help, but remember: ordering cash online means you could be hit with delivery charges and the exchange rate won’t be as strong as with your bank.

Using a Prepaid Travel Card Abroad

Think of prepaid travel cards as the new travelers’ cheques. Like credit and ATM cards, they can be used to withdraw cash, or you can simply hand them over at the checkout. You’ll be given a PIN to do both things.

The only difference is that you put money onto the card in advance. This means there’s no chance of going into debt. Need more money? All you need to do is top it up online or by text while you’re at the beach, in a museum, or sipping something refreshing at a bar.

There are a couple of catches to watch out for, of course. Certain prepaid cards charge you every time you load the card, spend on it, or withdraw cash. Based on how much you’ll be using, you could be racking a high amount of extra fees by the time you’re back home.

Worse yet, some cards will even charge you an inactivity fee if you leave money on them after your vacation’s over – and that’s on top of a fee to close the card down so you can get what’s left on it back. Be sure to steer clear of these and go for something from FairFX, Caxton, and Travelex instead.

girl paying with smartphone

Using a Credit Card Abroad

Credit card payments abroad are just as seamless as they are on home soil. But there’s an obvious price to pay – and that’s extra fees you can be hit by during your travels.

Luckily, some planning ahead of time can help minimize these hidden charges. For starters, use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee (which can range from 1% to 3% of each purchase). If your credit card is your only means of spending, then that’s a cost that’ll soon build up. Check your credit and ATM card agreements to see if you’ll be hit with these. If so, apply for a card that won’t; just be sure to apply far enough in advance of your vacation.

Once that’s done, call your credit card issuer before you jet off and let them know where you’re going and how long for. If you don’t, they may assume something suspicious is happening and block payments or suspend your card.

Watch out for dynamic currency conversion too. While the idea of paying for foreign purchases using the dollar sounds great in theory, certain merchants can be a little unscrupulous when dealing with tourists. They’ll have no problem quoting the final price in US dollars, only to make the conversion at an exchange rate that’s less than competitive.

man using smartphone and card for online banking

Using Gold Abroad

If you’re a Glint customer, you can use your Glint Mastercard in more than 150 countries around the world, so there’s no need to withdraw cash or transfer funds to a prepaid card. And with the Glint app at your fingertips, you can easily keep track of overseas transactions and fees, while also having the ability to select between different currencies at the touch of a button. If your card gets stolen, or if you lose it while you’re away, simply freeze it using your Glint app – find it again, then just as easily unfreeze and you can continue to use as before.

When it comes to spending abroad, it’s important to weigh up the best options that will make your cash go further. A little research before your trip can pay off when it comes to avoiding fees and protecting your money.


At Glint, we make every effort to demonstrate a balanced conversation between gold, crypto, and fiat currencies when it comes to purchasing power and, while we strongly believe that gold is the fairest and most reliable currency on the planet, we need to point out that it isn’t 100% risk-free. While we have seen a steady increase over time, the value of gold can fall, which means that its purchasing power can also decline. To learn more, visit our homepage or give us a call at +44(0)203 915 8111.

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