My child will be traveling to Paris in 2022 on an escorted school trip (he will then be 13). Does anyone have experience in the best/easiest/safest way to provide a minor money while they travel? Should I give him cash, a prepaid debit card, add him as a user to my credit card, use Moneygram?

  • 6
    He probably won't need much money, will he? Cash is probably the easiest option, though a prepaid debit card could be useful in some situations.
    – jcaron
    Jan 26, 2021 at 17:30
  • 24
    Please talk to his school, they should be taking care of everything since it is a school trip, unless he wants to spend something for his own like buying something
    – Gopi
    Jan 27, 2021 at 5:13
  • 6
    Do you use Euros in your country? The best way may depend on this. (e.g. Revolut/Transferwise and similar might be better at the exchange)
    – Nyos
    Jan 27, 2021 at 11:08
  • 34
    "My child will be traveling to Paris in 2022" - such confidence...
    – AakashM
    Jan 27, 2021 at 12:47
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    I'm still owing my tax declaration for 2019 and you are chiseling out the last details of your son's school trip in 2022 !? That is beyond my event horizon for about anything. (I'm mostly good at things that can be done in one afternoon.) Jan 27, 2021 at 17:25

4 Answers 4


Most schools will let you know how much money to give for the trip.

Most of the time they will also tell how, cash, card or other methods.

How much depends on what the kids have to pay, how much you allow as extra money and you will likely adjust the method to the amount.

If it is just a small amount, for some souvenirs and the odd snack, cash in euros is still the easiest. Unless the kid already has a card that will work in Paris.
If the kids have to pay for lunch cash and/or a prepaid card.

I would not give a teen a credit card, certainly not without a limit on it.
Besides, for the small amounts I expect a teen on a school trip to need, credit cards may not be accepted. (Although the comments on this and other answers indicate that in France credit cards and debit/bank cards on the Mastercard and Visa systems are all accepted in all places that accept cards, but there might be a minimum amount depending on the place.)

If your kid already has a smart way to pay, like a phone or watch, that might work.

If the school tells to bring cash and each kid has to arrange their own, see if you can get other parents to work together, saving effort and money on the transaction. Or ask around whether friends or family members still have euros and you can buy them for the market price without having to pay a bank, good for both parties. (Internet does give good values, just search pound to euro or dollar to euro or whatever.)

Some school trips have a teacher collect the money at the start and handing it out once a day, or more often, on request. This basically works with cash but some schools may accept money in a bank and hand it out in cash, so if the kids need to have quite a bit of money that might be worth asking.

  • 1
    Yes, the school should have guidelines about money.
    – Max
    Jan 26, 2021 at 22:46
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    And if you opt for cash, although it may be obvious to most on here, it may be worth being explicit: if your home currency is not the Euro, you should give your child Euros (i.e. convert the currency yourself) rather than have a 13 year old attempt to change money while on a trip.
    – David
    Jan 27, 2021 at 2:08
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    @David I would also add that you should shop around if possible when looking for the currency conversion. Different financial institutions will charge different amounts (though almost always more than the exchange rate would suggest), so you may be able to save a bit of money if multiple banks in your area do currency conversions. Of course, the search may have to go pretty far afield depending on where the OP lives. Jan 27, 2021 at 12:43
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    @AustinHemmelgarn certainly 2 years ago buying Euros in the UK the top few rates were so close together for getting £200-worth that merely starting the car to drive to somewhere with a better rate would cost you more than it would save. Pre-ordering at a supermarket you go to anyway will be among the cheapest options and easy as well Jan 27, 2021 at 12:48
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    My kids must be different from yours, becuase I always gave my kids a CC (along with a "conversation" about how much to spend, to keep to track, and that I'd see where they spent the money). Never had trouble with them.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 27, 2021 at 22:29

In most european countries, both cards and cash are widely accepted. However, "cards" means bank cards, not credit cards. Many smaller shops do not accept credit cards. So unless you can provide a european bank card (Girocard, EC-Card), cash is your best option. France is not one of the few countries where cash is going away, though the Corona epidemic is accelerating the trend towards cash-less payments all over Europe. On the other hand, street vendors and some small shops may not accept cards at all. In summary, that you cannot pay with a card is still more likely than that you cannot pay in cash.

Cash also has the advantage that it is more tangible. Children often do not (yet) understand money well enough to deal with it entirely in the abstract. A €10 bill is still a lot more real than a €10 card transaction. It will enable your kid to control its spending better.

You don't say how long the trip will be. If more than a week, I would consider also including a "reserve fund", which in case of emergency or unexpected expenses can be turned into cash. This can be the old Traveler's Cheque or a debit card or something else that takes one additional step to make it less likely that it'll be cashed to buy some cookies (or croissants).

  • 9
    How much do travellers' cheques cost these days, and how easy are they to change? I used them in the 90s and even then finding an appropriate bank wasn't always easy, and the cost was significant. Prepaid ATM cards may be better these days even for teens Jan 27, 2021 at 12:46
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    In France, there is no difference between a (Visa or Mastercard) credit card or a debit/bank card in terms of acceptance, they both go through the same "Carte Bancaire" network. On the other hand, Amex, Diners, JCB, UnionPay, etc. have extremely limited acceptance (though Amex is getting better). One thing to take into account is that there's often a minimum amount for card purchases, ranging from 1 euro to 15 euros depending on the merchant. The threshold has a tendency to go down (especially since the pandemic) but there are still a few holdouts with surprisingly high thresholds.
    – jcaron
    Jan 27, 2021 at 15:14
  • I surprised to read that travellers cheques might still be available. I did a quick on-line search but could not find any place offering euro travellers cheques for sale. Jan 27, 2021 at 16:10
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    I would have given a +1 for the warning not to use a credit card, but your recommendation to use a travelers cheques would get you a -1. Those are not good anymore for people who are experienced with them. School kids who have never used them, are not familiar with the city and the language will be lost and the teachers will likely not have time to guide them to a bank that still accept them. It will be easier to give the kid a bank note of their home money and tell them that if they really need it they can ask their teacher to exchange it for them. Or the teacher can hold emergency funds.
    – Willeke
    Jan 27, 2021 at 16:15
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    @LaurentS. In many (possibly event most) countries, yes, there are separate systems for bank cards and credit cards, which may or may not use the same terminal, and merchants can choose to accept one or the other (there are separate merchant contracts). In France from the start of the CB system (back in the 80s), Visa and Mastercard were associated with the national system, and as far as I know all merchants (accepting cards) accept any card with either CB, Visa or Mastercard logos, this is included in the merchant contracts of all banks. Other cards (Amex etc.) are separate.
    – jcaron
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:57

So I have been to a few school trips in foreign countries (Tho only one with a foreign currency) and my school always advised our parents to give us cash. Its easier to spot how much one has left and many smaller stores or bakeries don't accept credit card in Europe.

For the amount: I was given 100 pounds for 6 1/2 days in Great Britain about 7 years ago.

  • 4
    Time has moved on and now cash free payments are much more common. Amounts depend on what you have to pay for, like lunch.
    – Willeke
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:14
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    Yes true but bakeries, fast food stands, crepe stands, etc still don't except credit cards in most of Europe. I haven't been to France in quite some time so that might have changed but in Germany this is still the case.
    – SirHawrk
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:38
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    It is quite hard to find any establishment in my area of the UK which is cash only. Even market stalls take cards and at the barbers each worker has her own card machine linked to her phone.
    – mdewey
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:55
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    Experience from the UK is kind of irrelevant here, as this varies between countries and even within the countries depending on how rural your destination is. I can definitely second @SirHawrk 's experience about cash only establishments in Germany. It would be good to get some first hand experience from France. I personally would at least make sure that my child has a way to get cash from an ATM. Jan 27, 2021 at 11:15
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    So I'd like to say that the last time I was in France was September of 2019 and when I went to get breakfast the bakery only accepted cash
    – SirHawrk
    Jan 27, 2021 at 14:46

Check with the school. They will likely provide guidance on this nearer the time anyway, along with information about what your child needs to bring with them (and what they should not - e.g. expensive electronics or jewellery).

Many school trips recommend cash and operate a bank system. Before departing, each child gives the teacher the majority of their foreign currency and the teacher looks after it for the duration of the trip (often along with their passports). At regular intervals there will be an opportunity for each student to withdraw cash from the teacher's bank. Typically this would be at breakfast/dinner time, or immediately before a shopping trip.

Source: I have accompanied trips with several UK schools.

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