Bunbury Mail

Sydney travel tips: Should you use cash or credit card?

Cash versus card: Which is the optimal choice for travel? Picture Shutterstock
Cash versus card: Which is the optimal choice for travel? Picture Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Crown Currency Exchange.

Embarking on a journey to a new destination is a mix of thrill and trepidation. Undoubtedly, significant resources, both monetary and temporal, have gone into planning this adventure, from arranging your transport and accommodations to curating a list of activities.

Yet, another crucial aspect that demands your attention prior to departure is managing your expenses during the trip. Specifically, deciding whether to rely on cash or credit card during your travel. It's always wise to strategise your financial plan before the money starts flowing out!

It's a good thing Crown Currency Exchange in Sydney has got you covered. With top-notch currency exchange services and expert advice, you can navigate the monetary aspect of your trip like a pro.

Cash versus card: Which is the optimal choice for travel?

Now, let's delve into the heart of the matter. Which is the smarter choice when travelling - carrying a credit/debit card or exchanging it for local cash? There's a common assumption that withdrawing local currency from ATMs once you reach your destination will help you skirt exchange and credit card charges. Conversely, some travellers lean towards credit card usage, citing its greater reliability and the potential to rack up reward points.

So, which option comes out on top? Well, it's not that straightforward. The decision to travel with cash or card overseas should be made after weighing the following advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages and disadvantages of utilising a credit card overseas

While considering your financial plan for your upcoming trip, it's essential to consider the pros and cons of using a credit card abroad.


  1. Favourable exchange rates: Credit cards often offer better exchange rates compared to the rates you may receive when exchanging cash in a foreign country.
  2. Ease of replacement: In a worst-case scenario where your wallet is lost or stolen, a credit card is much easier to replace compared to cash. Plus, you may be eligible to have the stolen funds reimbursed by your credit card company, minimising your financial loss.
  3. Enhanced security: Using a credit card offers a more secure method of payment than carrying a substantial amount of cash. Credit card transactions can be traced and reversed if necessary, which is not possible with cash transactions.
  4. Reward points: Many credit card companies offer reward points for transactions, you can accumulate these and later redeem them for future travel, purchases, or even cashback.


  1. Potential fraud alerts: If you fail to notify your bank about your travel plans, your international transactions may be flagged as suspicious, and your bank may temporarily block your card. This could leave you in a lurch, especially in a foreign country.
  2. International transaction fees: While credit cards offer convenience, they may also come with international transaction fees. These fees can add up with every purchase you make, resulting in a larger bill than you anticipated.

Advantages and disadvantages of carrying cash while travelling

When considering your expenditure strategy for your forthcoming journey, it's equally crucial to review the benefits and drawbacks of carrying cash.


  1. Bypassing international transaction fees: With cash, you evade the frequently hefty international transaction charges that can accumulate with each credit card purchase.
  2. Always ready for tips and cash-only vendors: Having cash on hand ensures you're prepared for situations where only cash is acceptable, such as tipping or dealing with cash-only vendors.
  3. Directly supporting the local economy: Opting for cash can have a more immediate beneficial impact on the local economy.
  4. Pre-ordering local currency: In many cases, you can order your destination's currency in advance from your bank, ensuring you have local cash on hand upon arrival.


  1. Inferior security: Unfortunately, carrying cash is less secure compared to credit cards. If your cash is lost or stolen, it's nearly impossible to recover it.
  2. ATM and account fees: Withdrawing cash abroad can lead to substantial ATM fees, especially when using out-of-network ATMs. Account fees for cash withdrawals can also add to the overall cost.
  3. Uncertainty regarding amount needed: It's challenging to predict the amount of cash you'll require for your trip, leaving you at risk of running out of money in locations where ATMs or Western Union are limited.

The Verdict: Cash or credit cards for travel?

In the debate of cash versus credit cards for travel, the optimal solution might be a balanced combination of both! A thorough research and planning phase before your journey can help you estimate how much cash you'll likely need, identify the optimal places for cash withdrawal, and understand your bank and credit card company's policies concerning overseas expenditures.

By striking a balance, you can leverage the advantages of both cash and credit cards. You'll be able to evade international transaction fees for smaller, routine purchases by using cash, while also benefiting from the security and convenience provided by credit cards for larger expenses. This dual approach ensures you're prepared for a wider range of financial scenarios during your travel and helps mitigate potential risks.

So, diversify your financial resources when travelling. It's the smartest way to enjoy your trip without monetary worries clouding your experience. Remember, proper financial planning is just as important as planning your itinerary!