Travelling with Your Card: A Guide to Smart Spending

Last Updated on: 29th November 2023, 06:24 pm

Exploring new countries is an enriching experience, but it often comes with the challenge of managing finances in a foreign land. Using your credit or debit card abroad offers convenience. Still, it requires some savvy to avoid unnecessary expenses and security risks. One crucial aspect to remember is the importance of paying in local currency during transactions.

The Importance of Local Currency Transactions

When you’re abroad and use your card, you’re often asked whether you want to be charged in your home currency or the local currency. While choosing your home currency might seem convenient or safe, this can lead to higher costs due to dynamic currency conversion (DCC) fees. DCC means allowing the foreign merchant to convert the currency, often at unfavourable exchange rates and additional fees.

“When given the option, always pay in the local currency. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s usually the cheaper option.”

Preparing Before You Leave

Before embarking on your journey, a bit of preparation can help you avoid financial pitfalls:

  1. Inform Your Bank: Please notify your bank about your travel plans to avoid your card being frozen for suspicious activity.
  2. Check Transaction Fees: Some cards charge fees for foreign transactions. Opt for a travel-friendly card that doesn’t charge these fees.
  3. Research Exchange Rates: Familiarise yourself with the exchange rates to understand how much you’re spending in your home currency.
  4. Have Local Cash: Not every place accepts cards, so having cash in the local currency is good.
  5. Backup Payment Options: Carry a spare card or traveller’s checks in case your primary card is compromised.
a wallet with credit cards sticking out of it

Photo by PiggyBank on Unsplash

Security While Abroad

Your card’s security is paramount, especially in unfamiliar territories:

  1. ATM Safety: Use ATMs in secure locations and be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Card Visibility: To prevent cloning or fraud, keep your card in sight during transactions.
  3. Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly check your statements for unauthorised transactions.
  4. Secure Internet Use: Use safe and secure Wi-Fi connections for online banking or transactions.

Embracing Modern Payment Technologies

With advancements in payment technology, consider these tips for a smoother experience:

  1. Contactless Payments: Use contactless features on your card to minimise skimming risks.
  2. Mobile Banking: Utilize mobile banking apps to track expenses and instantly freeze your card if it’s lost or stolen.


Travelling with your card abroad is convenient but demands careful planning and smart choices, especially regarding currency conversion. Remembering to always opt for local currency payments can save you from inflated costs. With the right preparation and awareness, you can enjoy travel adventures without worrying about financial mishaps. Happy and safe travels!

Sources for Further Reading:

  1. Can I Use My Credit Card Internationally? How To Use Credit Cards While Traveling Abroad – Forbes
  2. Why Paying With a Credit Card Will Cost You More in Some States – Travel + Leisure
  3. Cash and Currency Tips for Europe – Rick Steves Europe
  4. If You’re Traveling Abroad, Take 2 Credit Cards – NerdWallet
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