Regardless if you bring traveler checks or not, if possible, it is a good idea to bring a small amount of the local currency or in most cases, US currency also works well, with you.
This can be used for tipping, taxis, snacks, phone calls or other purchases if you are unable to get currency exchanged right away. Foreign exchange facilities may be closed when your flight arrives.
When you do exchange money, local banks usually offer better rates of exchange than hotels, restaurants, or stores.
No matter where you go, it is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash. You can take most of your money in traveler checks but remember to record the serial number, denomination and the date and location of the issuing bank or agency.
Keep this information in a safe and separate place from your checks in case you lose your traveller checks, you can quickly get replacements.
The major cards that can be used worldwide such as VISA and American Express cards can be very useful but leave all unnecessary credit cards, such as department store cards, at home.
Even with the small currency conversions some cards charge, it is still usually cheaper to make purchases on your credit cards than if you change your traveler checks into local currency.
You can charge hotels fees, meals and other purchases. Some cards even provide insurance for the items you do purchase and some also provide for cash advances if need be.
Be sure to record the numbers of the credit cards that you do bring, and keep the list separately from the cards in case the get lost or stolen.
Report loss or theft of your credit cards or travelers checks to the credit card companies and to the local police as soon as possible. Credit cards are also useful for emergency funds.
You know that if anything happens, you have access to that cash. You should try to not have your cards at their limit before you travel in case you do have an emergency.
Call your credit card company and ask for them to raise the limit if need be. (You can always lower it again after the trip if you wish).
Most countries now have ATM machines and these can be very handy. Check with your bank or with our resource page for listings of ATM machines worldwide.
Always have some other means of cash with you either in the form of traveler checks or credit cards in case the ATMs are down and cannot be accessed.
ATM Locations Worldwide
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Related Articles and Resources
With proper planning, credit cards are a convenient, secure and cost-effective means of payment when traveling. Just keep these tips in mind.