Bank cards are indispensable when paying and withdrawing cash during a trip. Whether you're booking a hotel and flight, shopping, renting a car, or eating out at a restaurant. But which card is the right one when you're abroad?
A debit card is your go-to bank card. You can use a debit card to withdraw cash during your trip and pay at a number of locations. Fees vary depending on the card provider. It's best to find out about fees before you travel by contacting your bank. In general, a debit card is ideal for withdrawing cash. This is because the charges for using a debit card for cash withdrawals abroad are lower than they are for a credit card.
However, as some shops and service providers – such as hotel websites, airlines, and car rental companies – only accept credit cards, it's a good idea to have one with you as well.
Credit card holders can often enjoy the benefits of their bank's cashback rewards program. For example, they can earn points with every payment or receive part of the payment amount as cashback credited to their account.
You can use the Debit Mastercard to pay everywhere you see the Mastercard logo, shop securely online, and keep your costs under control at all times. Charges are debited directly to your account. So you can meet all of your needs with a single card.
When making a payment, you're often asked if you would like to convert the transaction currency. You can opt for the local currency or choose to have the amount converted into Swiss francs, i.e. your card currency. In such cases, you should always choose the local currency, since this gives you a better conversion rate.
If you're prepared for an emergency, you can react quickly. Before your trip, write down your card number and your bank's blocking hotline. With many banks, you can block the card yourself on the bank's website. Doing so is free of charge.
While it is possible to pay with a card and withdraw cash just about everywhere in large cities and in many highly developed countries, it may be almost impossible in other regions. That means you should find out what the situation is in the country you're visiting before your trip.
Imagine you've just arrived at your dream destination, and you want to get a snack and then take a taxi to your hotel. Then you see the sign: cash only. This is hardly unusual because taxis, public transport, and small food or drink stands rarely accept card payments.
Experienced travelers always carry little local cash with them. The rule of thumb here is: as much as necessary, as little as possible. If you travel off the beaten path, you should have an emergency reserve of US dollars or euros in addition to the local currency. This will help bridge the gap in emergency situations when you can't withdraw money from an ATM.
Change a small amount (up to CHF 200) of money into the local currency before you depart or at the airport. If you need major currencies such as euros, dollars, pounds, or yen, it is best to exchange an amount at your bank while you're still in Switzerland. Exotic currencies, such as baht or krona, are usually cheaper in the destination country. Official banks and hotels are reputable options for exchanging money abroad.
If you need the local currency quickly while you're traveling, you can withdraw cash from an ATM. However, cash withdrawals abroad are subject to a fee that varies depending on the provider. The operator of the ATM may charge a fee as well.
Try to avoid using third-party ATMs for cash withdrawals and rather than making regular withdrawals of small amounts, take out a larger amount once or twice.
Smart travelers never keep their belongings all in one place. It is best to keep your bank card and some cash reserves in a different bags, and only to take out small bills or coins when paying. If your travel funds are secure, you can focus fully on your adventure. Now you can go out and explore the world!
Financial management at your fingertips: with Debit Mastercards from Credit Suisse.