Navigate your spending abroad: Cash or card?

Are you gearing up for that dream vacation? Whether you’re eager to explore ancient ruins, enjoy big-city nightlife or unwind on a beautiful tropical beach, being well-prepared is essential. You’ll avoid unexpected surprises or unfavourable exchange rates that could disrupt your budget and dampen your holiday spirit.

Pros and cons of currency exchange vs card payments abroad

Should you use cash or cards when travelling? Both options have their pros and cons. Choose the option that causes you the least stress, so you can focus on the fun stuff.

On one hand, having cash on hand makes small expenses, like quick snacks or taxi rides, quick and simple. On the other hand, cards mean you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash, and most cards come with nifty security features to safeguard your funds during your journey.

Pros of using cash when travelling

  • Cash is universally accepted almost everywhere, provided you convert to the local currency.

  • It’s a reliable choice for businesses that don’t offer card facilities, like local markets and street vendors.

  • Cash transactions don’t come with additional fees.

  • You can buy local currency from your bank before your trip, so you know exactly what exchange rate you’re getting.

  • Cash transactions offer a higher level of privacy. They don’t leave a digital trail of your purchases.

  • Cash is essential in remote regions where card payment systems may not be available.

Cons of using cash when travelling

  • Carrying cash can be risky and stressful if you don’t have a secure place to store it.

  • If cash is stolen, your money may not be fully protected. Insurance providers often have limits on how much they’ll reimburse for stolen cash, and you may need to pay an excess on your claim.

  • You may struggle to estimate how much you’ll need, which can make budgeting tricky.

  • If you’re travelling with cash only, you may find it difficult to add impromptu activities.

Pros of using a bank card when travelling

  • Most South African bank cards are linked to Visa or Mastercard, ensuring global acceptance.

  • Cards offer convenience and eliminate the need to carry large sums of cash.

  • Cardholders can benefit from built-in safety features.

  • Informing your bank of travel plans can prevent card blocks due to irregular transactions.

  • Some cards (especially credit cards) offer cashback or reward benefits for overseas spending.

  • Credit cards provide a safety net in case of unexpected expenses, giving you access to a line of credit while abroad.

  • Some bank cards, especially premium or travel-specific ones, offer free travel insurance coverage.

A foreign currency account is easy to open, with a low minimum balance and no monthly fees

Cons of using a bank card when travelling

  • Some countries may lack the infrastructure for card payments.

  • Card transactions may incur foreign transaction fees and currency conversion charges.

  • Cash withdrawals with credit cards can result in high ATM fees.

  • Foreign exchange rates used for conversions may not align with wholesale rates, affecting the final cost.

  • Differences between authorised and charged amounts can lead to budgeting challenges.

Rather than deciding between cash or card, why not use a combination of both on your holiday? By blending cash and card options strategically, you can maximise your travel experience and have the flexibility to manage your finances effectively while exploring the world.


Making the most of your money: Nedbank travel solutions

At Nedbank, we offer a range of travel-friendly options tailored to your needs.

Debit cards

When you travel with Nedbank debit cards, things get easier. You can access your money from anywhere, and they even work with digital wallets. Provided that you are connected to a trusted internet source, your transactions are safe, so handling your money while travelling is simple.

Credit cards

If you’re going on a trip, remember to pack your Nedbank credit card, whether it’s Visa, Mastercard, American Express or SAA Voyager. These cards also include travel insurance, and special rewards and benefits to make your experience even better.

  • Nedbank Travel Card The Nedbank Travel Card is accepted all over the world, and you can load it with up to 8 different currencies, all at fixed exchange rates. You can shop, eat, and enjoy your travels without any worries.

  • Nedbank Foreign Currency Account A foreign currency account is easy to open, with a low minimum balance and no monthly fees. Moving money in and out of the account is simple on the Money app, so it’s perfect for those who need flexibility on the go.

  • Exchanging forex If you need cash in a foreign currency for your trip, you can count on our forex services. We’ll secure you an excellent rate, whether you’re buying or selling currency.

We’re here to help you make the best decisions about your travel spending and ensure you have an unforgettable, stress-free trip.