Money makes the world go around…

Travelling, how to get your money in different countries, how not to pay too many fees, how does it all work? 

You could carry around a big wodge of cash, but how do you get more when that runs out? Unless you’re working, getting paid in cash, and then spending that cash, at some point you come across e-money. Credit cards, ATMs, debit cards. If you use a debit card to take money out of the local ATM in Belize, how much is your bank in Sunnyvale or Croydon going to charge you for that privilege? We don’t have the answer to everything, (42, isn’t it?) but having checked out a few tips from other travel bloggers, and done some research ourselves, this is what we’ve found works for us. Of course, your mileage may vary…

Before we sold up and started travelling, we were living in the USA, so we started our research there. We discovered that Charles Schwab offers a debit card with no ATM fees. Not only do they not charge fees, but they also will credit you any ATM fees charged by the local bank, anywhere in the world, that you might use! Thank you Chuck!  It’s a little bit fiddly, as you have to open a brokerage account first, transfer money into that, then you can open a checking a/c with a debit card. You transfer money from the brokerage a/c into the checking a/c, and simply use the debit card anywhere in the world, and get any ATM fees credited. Ok we’ve got cash covered! Onto credit…

Credit cards, oh where to start?! There are so many, with many different rewards schemes. You could have an airline card, and earn miles on that airline, you could transfer your balance from one to another, and get bonus miles for opening a new card. You could also go crazy! We decided to keep it relatively simple. I was so tired of getting home from holidays, seeing all those nasty foreign exchange fees on the credit card statement, phoning them, pointing out that we had been customers for many years, and please would you remove that fee. Mostly they did “just this once”. Capital One offers a number of different credit cards, and they don’t charge foreign currency exchange fees when you use them in another country! Yes, that works! Their rewards scheme is pretty straightforward, you accumulate points, and when you use the card for something travel-related, you can then go online and get a credit on that travel cost up to the value of your points. Easy-peasy!

I’m sure there are many other credit and debit cards that offer similar advantages, but so far these two work fine for us. Their customer service people have been very helpful when we’ve needed to talk to them, and when we needed a replacement credit card while staying in England, they shipped it there for us.

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