How To Deal With Your Dollars While Travelling
6 expert money-managing tips.
You don’t have to wait for your pay to come in before booking your holiday. Why not use your Qantas Points instead? That way you can avoid the wait.
Keeping an eye on our money when travelling can be a little stressful. But thanks to technology we don’t have to exchange a bunch of money at the airport anymore, hide it in a discretely placed fanny pack, and pray we don’t get pick-pocketed. We’ve partnered with Qantas Cash – the newest travel money card available for New Zealanders – to give you some handy money hacks for keeping it choice when you’re on the road. From the best apps for converting money to dealing with foreign ATMs, we’ve got you covered.
Download a foreign exchange app
Bad at maths? Knowing how much things actually cost is a whole lot easier when you’ve got a currency converter at hand. It stops you from spending $150 NZD on a pair of shoes you thought were $100, or from thinking that 1000 Yen is actually a lot of money (it’s more like $12). There’s a few apps on the market, but the XE Currency Converter seems to be the most up-to-date and easiest to use when it comes to exchanging the NZ dollar with over 180 different currencies available. Bonus: It actually stores the last updated results so it can work offline – handy when you’re in a marketplace in the middle of nowhere and near WiFi.
Where should you stash your cash?
The age old question – should you invest in one of those dorky money wallets that hangs from around your neck? Well, we’re here to say ‘yes’. You totally should. Even if some of us would die to admit it, we all know it’s the safest way to travel and protect your goodies when abroad. Having your notes, cards and passport hanging out in an easily accessed pocket or a backpack zip is just too risky. And it’s not just about the threat of thieves digging inside your bag when you’re not looking. Think about all the times you could have dropped your bag, or left your wallet behind at brunch. Mistakes happen, so really the only way to safely travel with actual real life money is to have it strapped to your body at all times.
Credit cards vs travel money cards
Unbeknown to many, using your regular credit card can lump you with a heap of hidden fees if you decide to use it abroad – these include foreign transaction fees, currency conversion fees and ATM withdrawal fees. Get to know your bank’s policies before you head off.
The newest addition to the travel money game in New Zealand is Qantas Cash, the travel money card for Qantas Frequent Flyers. Qantas Cash is built into the back of the QFF membership card – so you don’t have to bring a wallet full of cards on your trip. Simply load up to nine currencies including NZ Dollars and use it to pay for things anywhere MasterCard is accepted electronically. You earn Qantas Points for every dollar you spend abroad, and that even extends to online shopping. Plus you’ll also earn Points on domestic purchases at home too – score!
Speaking of cash, do you even need it?
There once was a rule that when you were travelling, ‘Cash is king’, so exchanging a few hundred bucks when you first arrive at your destination was kind of a given. These days cash isn’t as necessary as you might think. In most countries, you’ll find they will accept any Visa or Mastercard, but American Express card holders, be sure to have a backup. Because of its association with MasterCard, Qantas Cash is accepted at millions of ATM locations and with no ATM withdrawal fee. Bonus! So depending on where you’re headed, having money in your pocket is really more a preference thing. In the US – where tipping is a necessity – cash certainly does come in handy (but not essential). As for Cuba, credit cards are not accepted anywhere, so don’t even think about visiting without a wallet full of pesos (US dollars are subject to a 10 percent surcharge FYI).
Help! My ATM doesn’t speak English!
Finding an ATM in a foreign city can be tricky – not to mention trying to operate one. Try to stick to major bank ATMs as you can get slumped with high transaction fees at some of those smaller, sketchier ones you find at convenient stores or hostels. Also, major bank ATMs usually offer an English translation on the main page, which is definitely a plus.
Most importantly, always choose to be charged in the local currency of the country you’re in – for instance, when a British ATM asks you if you wants to be charged in pounds rather than New Zealand dollars, say ‘yes’. If you say ‘no’, you’re effectively letting the ATM do your currency conversion for you, which can result in hidden fees and an inconsistent exchange rate.
Are traveller’s cheques still a thing?
Apart from being a particularly archaic way to pay for things overseas, traveller’s cheques are still used as a safer alternative to cash. You can purchase them from foreign exchange brokers like Travelex, and once you purchase your cheques, you have to sign them immediately so no one else can use them. Once you arrive at your destination, you then have to find a place where you can cash the cheques for local currency. The benefit of these was that you didn’t need to take all your travel cash as cash, which was a whole lot safer. There’s also the added advantage that if you lose or misplace your cheque, you can get it replaced – something that (sadly) doesn’t happen with regular money.
Surprisingly, traveller’s cheques are still commonly used in our current age of electronic finance but to be honest, because of the fluidity of exchange rates these days, the right credit/debit/travel card can give you far more euros, pounds or yen to your dollar – and you’re not locked into a specific exchange rate at the time of purchase.
(Lead image: Christian Dubovan on Unsplash)