What's the biggest, but still safe amount of cash to carry with you when traveling?

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  1. I'm new to this subforum and tried searching for titles of threads that address this issue, but couldn't find it, so I'm starting one.

    Anyway, I'm going to Spain, France, and Portugal (see my siggy:biggrin:) in November. I'm going to visit Madrid and Barcelona, but mostly small towns. I plan to buy some "native" souvenirs from local vendors for my friends and family, so I'll need to carry cash (Euros, I believe). Anyway, I'm wondering what the tpf travelers think is the max safe amount to carry on your person when you're in a foreign country and will be doing a lot of walking. For simplicity's sake, please give amounts in US dollars.

  2. This is a question I've never thought about. Safe? I guess it all depends on where you go and how you store you money. I usually card when its possible and have about 100-200 dollars in cash. There are ATM machines in all the bigger cities.
  3. #3 Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    ^^That's true.

    For more expensive purchases, I could use a cc, although it's a pain sometimes. I love that my bank is cautious, but I hate having to call them to clear transactions, especially when I'm out of the country.

    However, for small vendors in small towns, I'd prefer to have the cash than use an ATM because it might be hard to find ATMs that take US bank cards. It was hard for me to find one even in a major European city that I visited last year. I walked around and around for hours and found several ATMs there, but I couldn't find an ATM that took US bank cards.
  4. ^ That's odd. Its usually not a problem as long as its MC or VISA.
  5. I always call my cc companies before I leave the USA and let them know what cities I will be traveling in and the dates I'll be there. Amex once asked me how much I thought I would be spending which I thought was a bit odd but besides that it is better to make the cc company aware before you leave so you dont have to follow up with calls okaying transactions. I always use the ATM machines at the banks- never anywhere else-same as in the US. I usually carry about $100-$200 each day for meals and sight seeing. If you use a debit card at an ATM just make sure it is linked to your checking acct otherwise there could be problems. My dd went on a trip to France in high school and some of the students only had savings accts and could not acces $ with their debit card. I had given my dd a visa card under my acct and she had no problem accessing cash at ATMs. Have a wonderful trip!!
  6. Really? I've never had a problem with this at all, especially with Visa and Amex. In fact, in my experience the Amex exchange rate is usually better than the exchange rates to get cash.
  7. I'm heading to England next month and was told by my bank that I could pull cash out of an ATM as long as it was MC/Visa-endorsed (not sure if that's the right word). The lady told me that when you use an ATM for cash, you get the best exchange rate possible; the only downside is the bank hits me with a 3% convenience fee. Do any of you know if there's a similar fee added to CC purchases, every time you use a Visa? Or is it more like a one-timefee that's added on at the end of your billing cycle?

    I'd soo much rather use a CC than carry loads of cash, but the fees could really add up.

    OP if I had to use cash, I'd feel OK carrying around $200-300 at a time. Enough to cover transportation, meals, incidentals etc for a couple of days at a go.
  8. Thanks, everyone.

    I have a follow-up question: do you get all your cash you'd need before you head overseas, keep it in a safe/your hotel, and just get a couple hundred from your stash each day when you head into town? Or do you just get a couple hundred before you head overseas and withdraw from a local ATM at your destination each day?
  9. As someone who splits time on both continents I can tell you that taking cash out of the ATM give you the cheapest rates BY FAR. Even with a 3% added fee. The standing currency exchange places take a large percentage of money out, a good rate is 7% in France! Before you go call your bank and tell them where you will be traveling and then you shouldn't have any problems. The other thing is how you're going to be carrying the money on you. Really really watch you bag and no wallets in back pocket for men especially.

    Personally I don't get any more than 200 before I go and then withdraw from the ATM. Your credit card is way safer than a hotel safe because even if someone illegally uses your card you are usually protected, stolen cash will never be returned.
  10. I always take about $200 worth of euros before I leave the country this way I dont have to look to exchange money as soon as I land. I like to have euros on hand so I can get a coffee and grab a taxi to my hotel. I usually take out $ on a daily basis ($100-$200) I dont like to leave $ behind in the hotel- I carry my cash with me. I use my cc for shopping, eating out at restaurants and paying for the hotel. I use cash for transportation, cafes and sight seeing.
  11. This.
  12. I don't like using my credit cards overseas for the most part, but that depends on the store/restaurant and the country. I tend to feel comfortable with more cash than most have posted at least $500 USD at a time and I don't let it get below about $200 or so just in case I run into ATM problems. Most credit cards charge an exchange fee of 2-3%, wiith the exception of capital one - but I prefer Amex still in case there is a problem.
  13. I would just get a little bit of foreign currency out (for emergency use) and get more out once i get to the other country because it's more expensive to exchange money in the US. All airports should have a currency exchange booth. I'd suggest get enough money out for a day or two and then go to the local atm every other day to get more cash out if you need it. I usually get no more than $200 at a time. The atm fees usually aren't that much, and certain atms will have no fee depending on your bank. Fidelity doesnt charge a fee for their debit card and Bank of America also doesn't charge a fee when you withdraw from Barcleys in the UK. I've found that it's too easy to spend money abroad, so if I withdraw too much at a time, I'll tend to spend it faster, lol. Some credit cards (capital one, charles schwab, fidelity...) don't change the extra 1-3% exchange fee, so they're good to use on international purchases as well.
  14. I just returned from Europe:

    No problems using my Visa debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs. My bank (BofA) charges 3% + $5.00 fee. Therefore we took out 500 euros each time.

    I wore a money belt. I would carry about $100 in my cross-body bag for that day's food/souvenirs and then put the rest in my money belt (along with passport and CCs).

    There is no need to get ripped off by the airport currency exchange. Just hit the ATM as soon as you clear customs. There will be a bunch of them!

    To feel safer maybe just bring $100 USD and if you can't find an ATM right away then you can exchange.

    I would get the maximum out that you can at a time because many banks charge extra fees...so why pay the fees twice?

    I only used CC for bigger purchases or at restaurants. And no problems using Amex at any restaurant.

    I was in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.
  15. Great tips!

    Do you all find Mastercard as easy to use as Visa in Europe?