AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Travel Money

Posted on Feb 22, 2014

Travelling for longer than a month will require you to get money in the country (or countries) which you are visiting. In the olden days people carried travellers cheques and many advice websites still show this as a good method of getting hold of your cash around the world. But that all seems a bit fiddly and old fashioned to me. As of late 2013 in the UK the Halifax was offering a credit card which allowed purchases and ATM withdrawals for free anywhere in the world. This was my favoured option but I can’t comment further as the Halifax screwed up my application and kept demanding I visit a branch with ID. After this happened 3 times they rejected my application as they claimed I never verified my ID. I trawled the British banks for credit cards without fees for overseas usage. I finally decided upon the Post Office credit card. Free purchases anywhere in the world at a good rate but it costs to use at ATMs. I found a company called Caxton who have a card called the Global Traveller Card. This offers free ATM withdrawal anywhere in the world. I use a combination of option 2 & 3. The credit card is used for in store purchases, hotel bookings and online payments. The Caxton card is used for ATMs so I can get cash in the local currency. Both options give an OK exchange...

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Cash Vs Credit Card

Posted on Feb 19, 2014

Back home in the UK I never carried cash, everything I spent was on plastic. This wasn’t always good, going out for a few drinks would often lead to a hunt for an ATM but usually I didn’t have to think about carrying money. A day out could consist of buying fuel, entrance fees, lunch, something from the gift shop, a meal on the way home and none of that would require a single coin or note to be handed over. Now contrast that to travelling in Asia. Almost everything I do is cash based. Every restaurant, entrance fee or ticket has to be purchased using cash. This means thinking about how much is going to be spent that day; carry too little and we could end up stranded or hungry, carry to much and we’re vulnerable to theft (flashing cash isn’t showing off, it’s an invitation to be mugged). Our method for cash is simple. We have a card from Caxton (one each) which we load directly from our bank account and is free to use in any ATM anywhere in the world (Thailand and Philippines has an ATM fee though). This is a simple and cheap way to get cash in the local currency. Although in the last couple of weeks we have been in the northern Philippines where there was only one ATM which apparently doesn’t like half of foreign cards anyway so we had to carry enough cash for two weeks. But looking over our numbers has shown a statistic which was surprising to me at first. Only 60% of our expenditure so far (114 days) has been cash based, the remaining 40% has been credit card based. This surprised me because I feel like everything is carried out in cash. Looking at the numbers in more detail has shown that 10% of our expenditure has been on flights (4 booked so far) which reflects just how much flights cost compared to our usual day-to-day spending. 14% of expenditure has been hotels/hostels paid using the credit card. Our strategy now is to try and book hotels using Agoda (so long as the price is right) as they charge the credit card directly and there is no need to pay the hotel in cash on arrival. So that accounts for 24% of the credit card expenditure. A further 2.5% on food and 0.5% on alcohol are rare additions to the credit card. The remaining 13% is from shopping or paying for tours and excursions on the credit card. Old habits obviously die hard. By booking and paying for hotels in advance through hotel and hostel websites...

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