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I'm based in the UK and travelling to South Africa in two months. I'm slightly against carrying a lot of cash since I have a habit of losing things and we are going to be staying in a lot of different hotels. I want to convert my money with the best exchange rate I can and also have a method of paying which secure and versatile.

For this reason I am unsure what the best approach would be, with the most obvious options being:

  • A prepaid travel card
  • A mastercard with no charge on foregin purchases

Since I'm not a regular traveller I'm a bit stuck. What does the communiuty recommend?

marked as duplicate by Gagravarr, CMaster, Tor-Einar Jarnbjo, VMAtm, Community Jan 19 '16 at 12:38

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A good idea would be to take the credit card if you will have internet/phone service. If someone steals a prepaid travel card, you've just lost that money. If you lose a credit card, contact the company and have them cancel the card immediately. The only problem is, it will take them a long time to send you a new one(if they'll send to South Africa). So, just to be safe, I'd recommend taking a credit card and a prepaid travel card. Only use the travel card if your credit card gets stolen. That way, you have your bases covered, and you can go without fear of not having enough money.

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You need to check with your bank what are the charges they will apply for both a credit card payment and a local cash withdrawal. Some banks don't apply any charge for foreign payments. Others have huge charges so you really need to check with them.

From my own experience, a Master Card or an Amex would make it great. Those are also interesting for the insurances they offer to protect your goods and your travel.

You could also opt for a travel card but I am not familiar with this solution. Not sure if it is really interesting so I won't comment on it.

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    Recommending an Amex for inernational travel? Really? – CMaster Jan 19 '16 at 10:07
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    To explain my above comment: Outside of the US (and maybe Canada?) American Express has pretty awful levels of acceptance, and some places that do accept it will charge you more. If you want a card you can rely on in most of the world, it has to be Mastercard/Maestro or Visa. There are still some places (often relating to either financial embargoes or local banking laws) where these will let you down too. – CMaster Jan 19 '16 at 10:14
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    In my own experience, it really depends on what you are doing. Amex is widely available in most of the countries, especially in the hotel chains. If you opt for hostels or things like that, a Visa card or cash is probably more recommended. – Olielo Jan 19 '16 at 10:28
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    @CMaster I rarely have trouble with my Amex for things such as hotels, restaurants, chain stores and so on. If you find a shop charging more for Amex, then you should complain to Amex as this is usually not allowed by the agreement Amex makes with the merchant [in some countries it is permissible]. They will often refund the delta to your card. – Calchas Jan 19 '16 at 11:27
  • Amex is getting wider acceptance in Europe, but the USA card charges a ghastly 2.75% foreign transaction fee. – Andrew Lazarus Jan 19 '16 at 15:23

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