Money matters on the road

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Money is one of the biggest concerns when traveling. Aside from saving enough for your trip, the other pressing concern is how much to bring and how to bring it. When I travel, I usually bring cash (peso and US dollar, when overseas), my ATM and my credit cards. I developed this terrible habit of relying on my credit cards for more expensive items, specially when the establishment accept credit card payments. This of course, results to me going beyond my budget.

On the other hand, having a credit card proved useful when I found myself unable to find an open money changer upon arriving late in Kota Kinabalu and specially when I found out that the US dollar bills I bought were practically useless as the money changer wouldn’t accept it for exchange. It also helped a lot when I ran out of cash on the last leg of my Southeast Asian backpacking trip in 2009.

Convenience always comes with a price. In exchange for the service, you pay interests for your charges (of course) and you also pay an annual fee to use the card.

A great alternative to credit cards are debit cards. Debit cards work like ATM cards: it’s tied to a savings or checking account, and you’re only allowed to use the available funds within the account. This means no going over budget, no interest charges, and best of all, no annual fees. You use it like you would a credit card, paying for items without having to withdraw cash. Of course, you can still use it to withdraw money from the cash machine without the additional cash advance fee.

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When I traveled solo for the first time, I made sure I was prepared. Along with the dollars and pesos in my wallet, I also had two credit cards (one Visa, one Mastercard) and two debit cards (both Visa Electron cards). What I liked about the debit cards is that I was able to use my local ATM card to withdraw money from any machine that has the Visa logo.

Now that I’m trying to be more responsible and control my spending, I’m making an effort to limit my credit card abuse. While I’m not comfortable completely eliminating my credit cards, I think the debit card would be a great compromise.

Visa believes that one of the most important financial tools is not a product but knowledge. That is why Visa has been developing financial literacy programs that teach individuals how to spend, save and budget responsibly. In 2009 Visa committed to reach 20 million people worldwide with financial education by 2013. For more of Visa’s financial literacy materials visit

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. Louis says:

    Most banks now specially in United States are phasing out the Debit Card. I don’t know yet the reason why but I guess the Debit Card is being taken out to make people use credit card. Most Debit card comes with perks that credit card gives like mileage points and cash back which were originally belongs to the credit card.

  2. summer says:

    i was suppose to email you and ask if i really needa CREDIT CARD when travelling,most especially abroad.. And then, I have read thisblog and I got the answers.. heheh..Im contemplating on letting go of my CREDIT CARD.. :)

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