I’m going to take a wild guess and say that when it’s time to go on holiday, you spend time hunting around for the best rates on currency exchange. Am I right?

Personally, I find it such a bore; it’s one of the things I least look forward to when planning my next getaway.

While carrying around some cash is necessary — especially because many businesses still don’t accept card payments, or have minimum spend limits — I prefer taking away a debit or credit card as my primary method of payment.

It saves me time from searching for marginally better currency conversion rates, it’s easier to keep control of my expenses, I don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on how much cash I have left, it’s safer and more convenient too!

“But Fabio”, I hear you say. “If I spend with my card abroad, the bank will charge me ridiculously high fees!”. That may be the case with your current card my friend, but with a travel-friendly debit or credit card, you’re able to spend in other countries without paying a penny.

Get a card that’s free to use

Because I live in the UK, I opened up an account with Metro Bank. It’s worth poking around with your own bank to see if they have anything suitable, but with this Metro account, I can essentially make card payments or withdraw from a cashpoint anywhere in Europe — totally free.

This was incredibly convenient for me because at the time I needed something last minute, so I walked into the branch and within half an hour I had an account set up with my card, PIN and online banking ready to go.

Considering I was due to leave in the next few days and I’d be in Portugal for over a month, cash was going to be a hassle because I’d have to keep withdrawing and keeping tabs on my spending. With a card, I could spend freely and just track my expenses via the app or online.

Use cash, but as a backup

Everyone is different of course, however I prefer to use cash as a backup. There are times when your card may not be accepted for some reason, or it’s just quicker & easier to hand over cash.

Also, by only taking a small amount of cash, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of time tracking down the best rates just to save yourself a few pennies. In my opinion, it simply isn’t worth it.

What do you prefer?

I’d love to know whether you have a preference for cash or card, and whether you have any tips on how to take money abroad; let me know in the comments!


Note: I am not affiliated with Metro bank. They’re simply the bank I opted for out of convenience and a real-life example I could use.


Fabio Virgi

A real geek at heart, Fabio caught the travel bug after traveling for a month in the summer of 2015. After visiting 4 different places in 4 weeks, he decided to leave his job, become self-employed and see all the world has to offer!