Question to digital nomads and seasoned travelers

What do you do in terms of money?
Do you carry a bunch of USD cash with you and convert as necessary, or do you use some service/bank that allows you to get money internationally (but probably at a high fee)?

  1. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Not a digital nomad. But I carry some thousands of dollars.Depends on the country as I don't like to declare it. Put it in my pocket, in a wallet with me and also in my cabin bag, in case some of it get stolen. Take at least four cards from different banks so the odds of all getting blocked is close to none. 2 debit cards for withdrawals and two credit cards. That's pretty much it. I use a bank that don't charge fees for international withdrawals and use other cards for higher expenses. In case something goes wrong with my cards, I have enough cash untill I get things settled.

  2. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Cash is king, as giorgia meloni admits. but in the EU using a VISA credit card isn't that bad, i.e. the associated fees and conversion rates are still manageable.
    If you're really in a bind you can use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, for me that's only a fee of $5 per transaction.

    tldr use cash but bring along a credit card for unexpected desires or emergencies

  3. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I have a few different prepaid no/low fee credit/cash cards. These are cheaper than using money changers because they convert at mid-market rates (two of them) or 1% FX markup. In my passport case, I keep five new $20 USD bills for visa fees, but it's been a couple of years since I've needed to use them.
    The only time I've ever carried "large" amounts of money was going into Myanmar. I brought several hundred USD because I knew the ATMs wouldn't be an option at the time, but I could still use my cards anywhere that took credit cards.

  4. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    get a wise card, it autoconverts to the local currency at FX rates. you wont get better (unless maybe you are an american and can get a tier 1 credit card)

  5. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Have a good bank which doesn't charge for international withdrawals and refunds ATM fees. Withdraw enough to get through a couple days, and then credit cards for larger expenses/backup.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      >Have a good bank which doesn't charge for international withdrawals and refunds ATM fees.

      I was a 'digital nomad' for a couple years and I used to just withdraw cash at ATMs and eat the $2 atm and 1% bank fee. The Charles Schwab checking account that refunds ATM fees is much better though since from what I understand there's no bank fee and they refund all ATM fees. Never used it before but I plan on moving out of the country again next winter and will definitely set it up.

      >The Charles Schwab checking account that refunds ATM fees is much better though since from what I understand there's no bank fee and they refund all ATM fees.
      This. Also, watch the currency pair to get a feel for the forex if you're going to be there >= 3 months. Then, you can pull out a bunch of cash for large purchases and expenses to get the best rate during your stay.

  6. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Never bring your own currency as cash to convert. You'll get fucked by any desk at an airport or tourist area. Post offices at the destination might convert at an ok rate but its just a pain in the ass why bother?

    I get $50-$100 from my bank before arriving just to have some cash when I get there, this isn't even necessary and your rate isn't great doing this.

    I use a credit card (no foreign transaction fees) whenever possible (VISA/Mastercard only for this, AMEX is rare and Discover nonexistent). Always select to pay with local currency when prompted, your credit card's conversion rate is far better than the POS's rate.

    Any cash I need I will get from the ATM. $200-$300 as the free is usually flat. I will choose an ATM of a bank, not some random no-name ATM in the hotel/airport/store. Again I choose to let my own bank do the conversion, the ATM rate is almost always dogshit and the ATM will try to confuse you into accepting it sometimes.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      >I use a credit card (no foreign transaction fees) whenever possible (VISA/Mastercard only for this, AMEX is rare and Discover nonexistent).
      Try to get both a Visa and a MasterCard from two different banks.
      That way you are equipped in the rare places that only accept one or the other and are less likely to experience troubles in case one of the banks has a hiccup.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      >Never bring your own currency as cash to convert
      bad advice, just stay away from bad money exchanges at airports and tourists traps
      if you use cards, you still need to bother to do your own research about which ATMs to use, where to find them, etc.

      if you stay long term in one country open bank account there, get a local debit card and transfer money there

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        Your advice is way worse. Do you even hear yourself? Open a local bank account over just carrying a credit card and letting them handle the conversions? Moron tier advice do not do this OP.

        Never bring your own currency as cash to convert. You'll get fucked by any desk at an airport or tourist area. Post offices at the destination might convert at an ok rate but its just a pain in the ass why bother?

        I get $50-$100 from my bank before arriving just to have some cash when I get there, this isn't even necessary and your rate isn't great doing this.

        I use a credit card (no foreign transaction fees) whenever possible (VISA/Mastercard only for this, AMEX is rare and Discover nonexistent). Always select to pay with local currency when prompted, your credit card's conversion rate is far better than the POS's rate.

        Any cash I need I will get from the ATM. $200-$300 as the free is usually flat. I will choose an ATM of a bank, not some random no-name ATM in the hotel/airport/store. Again I choose to let my own bank do the conversion, the ATM rate is almost always dogshit and the ATM will try to confuse you into accepting it sometimes.

        Is speaking truth. Always use cards and let the credit card companies do the conversion. I have an Amex gold and a chase sapphire that covers everything I’ve ever had to do. Can even do cash advances on them for a $10/5% fee if you really need cash. Everyone takes visa, about half of the places I go in europe take Amex. Bonus to this is that you’re racking up credit card points/miles while you’re at. I’ve only paid for two flights in Europe and almost never domestically back in the states. Flying to Japan and home completely free next year.
        As he said having a small amounts ($100) of the local currency or usd is a good idea. When I went to Turkey they had a nice little scam going where they only take cash for the Visa stamp, and direct you to an ATM after waiting in a huge line.

        • 2 months ago
          Anonymous

          why it's worse?
          I hope that you realize that in third-world countries majority of places where you go don't accept your credit card, you need to get cash anyway
          those places who do accept often add 3-5% "credit card fee" on top, and you can't avoid that

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            Not him, but I thought your advice was pretty nonsensical, too.

            I don't know exactly what you meant by "staying in a place long-term," but you can't typically open a bank account in another country without being a legal resident. Additionally, simply funding such an account would necessarily entail either depositing large amounts of cash for conversion or wiring larger amounts of cash. In either event, the person opening the foreign bank account would likely be affected by significant transaction fees or significant conversion fees.

            This just isn't good advice for someone who's visiting another country on a tourist visa, even if they're staying there for several months or more.

            I live in a third-world country (I'm American), and opening a local account was a massive pain in the ass even though I'm a legal resident and have the right visa and paperwork to open one.

            • 2 months ago
              Anonymous

              I've opened bank accounts in several third world countries on tourist visa, if it's impossible in your country then of course it's not an option
              "significant transaction fees" mean fixed 10-15€ fee for SWIFT transfer, which is nothing when you transfer several thousands
              "significant conversion fees" are much lower compared to using credit cards, many credit card companies add extra 1-2% on top of the rate + there are local ATM fees

  7. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I unironically just withdraw cash from ATMs.

    I still bank with my university's credit unions, and they only charge $1 for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, along with a 1% transaction fee. Under most circumstances, this means that that I pay less to use an ATM than for money exchange, since the exchange rate reflected in my statements is almost always current.

    As another anon mentioned, never accept a foreign ATM's "dynamic currency conversion." DCC is basically a thinly-veiled scam where the ATM's owner sets the exchange rate, which is almost always going to be significantly lower than the prevailing exchange rate. For example, I once visited a Burger King in Istanbul and accidentally selected DCC on the payment terminal: the exchange rate at the time was 1 USD : 7.5 TL, and they billed me at 1 USD : 1.75 TL, which was the exchange rate in fucking 2013.

    also,
    >inb4 hur dur you went to Burger King in Turkey--I was living there for a year, and I got fucking sick of Turkish food after a few months

  8. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    If you’re from the US get a capital one 360 debit card, you can withdraw cash in almost every country from their atms AT THE EXACT EXCHANGE RATE , at most you will pay like 3 dollars which is charged by their atm directly. Best card

  9. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Other than being sure to have a few hundred euros or Swiss francs in my wallet while in transit, I don’t travel with much cash unless I am going somewhere where there might be no ATM access, and there are very few places left in the world where that’s a risk. My own bank doesn’t charge me withdrawal fees abroad and typically offers good enough exchange rates, so I withdraw cash occasionally if needed (if given the option, remember never to accept the ATM’s exchange rate and use your home bank’s, which should be at least a little better), and otherwise just use plastic (I carry four credit cards from three banks, denominated in three currencies, plus two debit/ATM cards denominated in a total of three currencies, but this is not for any kind of strategic reasons, it’s just the way my financial life wound up by chance).

  10. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I was a 'digital nomad' for a couple years and I used to just withdraw cash at ATMs and eat the $2 atm and 1% bank fee. The Charles Schwab checking account that refunds ATM fees is much better though since from what I understand there's no bank fee and they refund all ATM fees. Never used it before but I plan on moving out of the country again next winter and will definitely set it up.

  11. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I really should jump through the hoops as a Canadian to get an American credit card.

  12. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Try to pay in US dollar. Sometimes they will accept it with change at the exchange rate because they can either sell it above spot or know it holds its value better than their currency.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      This is bad advice outside of very limited areas with unstable currencies.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      This is bad advice outside of very limited areas with unstable currencies.

      Agreed that apart from in countries with dollarized or semi-dollarized economies, this is rarely a good deal. If USD are in wide circulation somewhere, sure, it might be a workable idea, but otherwise, nobody wants to have to deal with changing a US$20 bill into something they can actually spend. Better advice is probably to find and use black market/informal currency exchanges, where such things exist, as the rates are almost invariably better than official rates.

  13. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    i just use the cards(one visa and one mastercard) i put in my apple phone as even 3rd worlds countries have moved on to contact less payments now and keep my real credit cards hidden in my airbnb/hotel in case i some how loose my phone

  14. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    3 different bank cards, 3 mastercards, 1 online only and 2 physical, crypto and a small safe filled with cash amigo

  15. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    Open an account with a bank that doesn't charge for ATM transactions on other bank's machines.

    Make all your withdrawals through a legitimate bank in the country, ideally the biggest and most famous bank and ideally on their premises (to avoid skimming and other scams or robbery).

    Even if you can't open an account with a bank that doesn't charge, you'll still end up paying just a relatively minor fee as long as you are withdrawing the maximum each time, it will hardly add up.

    Bring cash in dollars (or euro) only as backup and don't use it.

    Make sure you have a backup plan if you actually lose your cards, computer, phone, etc.

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      Pretty much this. Have multiple cards and put them in different parts of your luggage in case something goes missing. I usually carry anywhere between $100-1k in USD bills spread around my luggage and person as well for emergencies. Started doing this after having a number of phones, wallets and bags stolen over the years.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        >having a number of phones, wallets and bags stolen over the years.

        How does that even happen? I'm probably old enough to be your dad and never had anything stolen or lost

        • 2 months ago
          Anonymous

          For the first 8-10 years I was travelling, I never had anything stolen. Then in the last couple of years I got a bit careless. Not really bothered by it, I had a pretty good run and insurance covered most of it. It's more of a really annoying inconvenience when it happens.
          >Vietnam: Cash stolen from AirBnB while I was out, phone pick pocketed
          >Thailand: Phone pick pocketed
          >Europe: Phone and wallet pick pocketed

  16. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    NYT on the Chase Sapphire card:
    Dear Tripped Up,

    I have long been a business traveler, and therefore have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, touted to be one of the best travel cards out there, if you can stomach the high annual fee of $550. But on a trip earlier this year to Italy and the United Kingdom — my first and only significant travel in the past year — I tried to use the card every day for four days, and every time it was declined. Each time, I called Chase and spent hours speaking with various members of their team. They either claimed my card had been reset and should work again, punted me to someone else, disconnected me or hung up after being rude to me. I would like Chase to fix these problems and provide some recompense, such as some or all of my annual fee refunded. Can you help? Grace, Corona del Mar, Calif.

    Dear Grace,

    I am feeling your pain: I travel with the very same Chase card you have, as well as a Delta-branded American Express card. On my current trip to Brazil, I have had dozens of transactions declined. Every attempted purchase is a crapshoot — sometimes switching cards works, sometimes inserting the card instead of tapping works and sometimes taking deep breaths works, if only to calm me down. It’s not quite bad enough to make me long for the days of traveler’s checks, but it’s close.

    That said, the fact you couldn’t get your card to work at all is worse, and especially troubling since it’s supposed to be a great choice for travelers and comes with a hefty annual fee. (Though, to be fair, the effective cost of a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is $250, since they do refund your first $300 of travel expenses.)

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      I asked Paul Lussier, a Chase spokesman, to look into your case. He told me that the first two times your card was declined (at a parking lot in Monopoli, Italy, you said) it was because of “an invalid or partial chip read.” That could have been the fault of the card reader, how your card was inserted or a number of other things, he said. The third time, another element of the fraud detection system kicked in and blocked your card, and he acknowledged that your call was disconnected, though it’s unclear how. After the fourth attempt and your subsequent call, he said, the problem was resolved, though by then your trip was over.

      You’re not going to like his conclusion. “From our own internal review, it doesn’t appear that any errors on our part occurred,” he said. Nor, he said, were there errors “on the customer’s part.” In other words, the Chase fraud detection system did what it was supposed to do, taking the data it received and determining there was enough risk to decline the transactions, and you did what you were supposed to do, call in and complain. Alas, you two disagree on how well Chase’s customer service performed. He said they listened to the recording of your calls and determined “our agents handled the calls correctly.” I’m guessing that will make you furious, but I’m afraid I can’t determine which of you is right.

      What could you have done differently? At one time, I would have advised letting your credit card company know that you were traveling abroad. But Chase explicitly tells its cardholders that they don’t need to do that. “We’ve got you covered! With our enhanced security measures, you don’t need to set up travel notifications anymore,” the Chase website reads.

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        “Just about every credit card issuer has gone away from that,” said Nick Ewen, a director of content for The Points Guy, a site that covers travel credit cards extensively. He told me he and his wife used to have a ritual, on their way to the airport, of alerting their credit card companies of their destination by phone or app. It seemed like a simple solution, and one that might help me on my current trip, on which about a third of my transactions do not initially go through, making me want to scream “Hey Chase, hey American Express, I’m in Brazil! Get used to it!”

        Yann-Aël Le Borgne and Gianluca Bontempi, data scientists at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the authors of an online handbook about credit card fraud detection, explained what has changed. In the past, human experts created rules that detected potential fraud, including the amount of the transaction compared to your typical spending, or where the purchase took place. “That was the case 100 percent of the time, maybe 10 years ago,” said Mr. Le Borgne. “But now, thanks to machine learning, it has become possible to process huge amounts of data from past transactions and identify these rules through statistics.”

        • 2 months ago
          Anonymous

          In other words, said Mr. Bontempi, fraud is now detected “by hundreds of variables that probably mean nothing to you, but from a statistical perspective are much more accurate.” But that makes it maddening for us humans when our cards are declined — in your case and mine, repeatedly — for no obvious reason. The fact that your calls didn’t help makes it even more vexing.
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          I’m not going to start feeling sorry for credit card issuers any time soon, given their profits. But they do have a tricky task to perform, determining within milliseconds whether any one of a billion-plus transactions a day should be disallowed, especially considering the near-total protection they offer consumers against fraudulent use of their cards. Complicating matters further for American issuers, our credit cards can generally be used without four-digit PINs, unlike cards in many countries. The Belgian researchers could not say for sure, but they told me it was reasonable to assume that, all other things being equal, a transaction with a PIN code would be less likely to be flagged for fraud than one without.

          “We look at a multitude of factors when making a decision to block a transaction for potential fraud,” Mr. Lussier, the Chase spokesman, told me. And here’s the kicker: “There are no concrete tips for consumers to use that would help them guarantee every single credit card transaction they make isn’t denied for potential fraud.”

          • 2 months ago
            Anonymous

            But there are a few things you can still do, said Mr. Ewen, of The Points Guy: First, be sure your phone can receive texts and make calls from abroad, so you can both be alerted to potential fraud and call from wherever you are as soon as your card is declined. (Grace, I know you do receive text messages abroad and did not receive any from Chase, but Mr. Lussier told me that chip-reading issues would not trigger such a text.) Also, travel with multiple cards. I’d add you might even want to bring three, if you have them — two to carry, and one, perhaps an A.T.M./debit card, to leave in the hotel for emergencies. Insist on inserting cards into machines rather than tapping from the beginning of your trip, something that might (or might not!) have saved me from landing on the fraud detection radar.

            Unfortunately, Grace, it looks like this time I couldn’t be of much help, and I would certainly understand if you wanted to cancel your Chase card. One consolation, though: If you do cancel, you won’t lose your points — or, at least, not their full value. For 30 days after you close your account, you can redeem them for cash; transfer them to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners, including United, Southwest, Marriott Bonvoy and Hyatt; or even buy a new iPhone.

  17. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    I withdraw cash from an ATM and use that. I have a PSK (physical security key) for online transactions, which is more reliable than an app or SIM card for 2FA.

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