The best ways to spend money abroad

1 min readLast updated November 10, 2023by Lisa-Marie Voneshen

If you have a vacation coming up, it can be easy to focus on all the fun activities and overlook how to spend while abroad.

Choosing the wrong way to spend abroad could cost you a lot in avoidable fees.  

Here are the pros and cons of the four best ways to spend abroad.   

1. Travel debit cards  

You can use your debit card, but this can be an expensive mistake as you may pay unnecessary fees when you spend or withdraw cash from an ATM.  

Of course, this isn't an issue if your card offers fee-free spending abroad. 

You may be able to reverse a disputed charge via chargeback if any issues with the merchant cannot be resolved.  

2. Travel credit cards  

Travel credit cards tend to benefit from decent exchange rates, but it’s worth checking whether your card will charge any fees.  

One downside is that you need to pass a credit check and pay off your balance in full every month to avoid high interest. It’s also best to avoid withdrawing money from an ATM using a credit card, as you’ll usually get charged interest.     

3. Prepaid travel cards  

You can load prepaid travel cards with cash and lock in an exchange rate in advance. Similar to debit and credit cards, checking any fees before applying for a prepaid travel card is wise.    

Locking in an exchange rate can be both good and bad, as you’ll know what rate to expect, but you might not necessarily get the best on offer.   

If you’re on a budget, a prepaid travel card can help you stick to it, although you can always top it up if you’re running low on cash.   

While you can block the card if it goes missing or gets stolen, these cards might not be accepted everywhere.   

4. Cash  

Cash is helpful in emergencies, but you should make sure you have a safe place to keep it so you reduce the likelihood of losing it or getting it stolen.   

Cash can be useful if you’re keen to stick to a budget or want to lock in an exchange rate.    

And if you end up with too much money at the end of your trip, you can either save it for your next one or sell it. 

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Senior Content Writer

Lisa-Marie Voneshen

Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.