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To be honest, I am not sure which is a better way to ask the question: Is gold an acceptable means of currency exchange in most travel-able countries? or which countries is gold NOT an acceptable means of currency exchange?

This question comes to mind in respect to backpacking across Eurasia. I know most European countries take gold, but I have little knowledge on topic from Eastern Europe on to the eastern coast of China.

The idea is that gold carries a lot of value with very little displacement and weight. With gold at it's current value, one could feasibly carry a few ounces to finance the trip.

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Do you really plan to take gold with you? Why not Euros, Dollars and credit card? –  RoflcoptrException Jan 30 '12 at 17:41
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I don't want to be tethered to a financial institution. I work at one and well aware of the problems that arrise when going to say, the Ukrane. There are countries that are "too high risk" to do any card transactions and are blocked all together. However, I would use combination of cash/gold. Cash can be bulky at the amount I want to carry, so I want to use gold as a backup. –  hydroparadise Jan 30 '12 at 17:52
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So you think it is risky to use bank services in countries like the Ukraine. But on the other hand you don't think it is risky to backpack with a really heavy cluster of gold in your backpack for weeks through Eurasia? –  RoflcoptrException Jan 30 '12 at 17:53
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While gold is certainly a high-value commodity, its trade is regulated almost everywhere, mainly since it's a great way to illegally transfer wealth across borders, and is frequently used in money laundering schemes and tax evasion (it's hard to be traced, unlike electronic transactions, paper money or, to some extent, diamonds). Also, almost any amount of gold would cause raised eyebrows at customs, as you might be required to pay an import tax, and in certain countries, it might even be confiscated. –  mindcorrosive Jan 30 '12 at 18:02
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Why the downvotes people? This is perfectly legit question! –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 30 '12 at 22:31

3 Answers 3

up vote 23 down vote accepted

It is certainly not true that "most European countries take gold". You cannot pay for goods in a shop with gold. Nor can you walk into a high street bank with gold and walk out with currency - you would need to do it through a specialist dealer.

There are places where you can sell gold jewellery, but you will get very poor prices.

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Very helpful. I guess I was mislead to thinking it was freely traded. –  hydroparadise Jan 30 '12 at 19:37

Although gold is at a high value now, it's not easy to convert into cash. A lot of places are doing "cash for gold" in shops for people to sell their old jewlery etc. However they pay maybe one tenth the price per troy ounce. I know this is the case in numerous European countries. So you'll have to buy it at 100%, and sell it at 10%, meaning a 90% drop in value. Gold is a terrible way to convert your cash when travelling around Europe.

You'd be much better bringing Euro or US Dollars.

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I am not aware of any country where gold is an acceptable currency. Banks typically don't buy gold from strangers. They require that you have a checking account with them.

Jewellery stores, pawn shops and thelike will probably take your gold for cash, but it's a gamble: They'll guess the value and make an offer based on how much they value your coin. Maybe more importantly, you might not find such a shop when you need them.

The risk of a credit/debit card getting blocked is real. However, carrying two cards or one card and cash / traveller's cheques should be fairly save.

EURos are good all over Western and Central Europe. In Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia, USD is popular. Changing cash is no longer the ripoff, it used to be; often cheaper than credit card transactions, certainly cheaper than selling gold.

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