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How Much Hard Cash Do You Carry?

I'm going to Norway for 6 months or so. I expect all my transactions to be in EU. Do you think it wise that I still carry $200 to $400.00 in Greenbacks ???

Posted by
5687 posts

I would. I do even when I travel to Europe for just a few weeks. Presumably you'll be using your US credit union or bank account to get cash from ATMs while you are traveling...but it's always nice to have cash backup you could exchange somewhere in a pinch. I'd also have several credit cards.

Posted by
11511 posts

You have a visa so you can stay beyond the 90 day Schengen limit?

Posted by
6788 posts

I typically bring around that amount ($200-$400) in US currency. But I never use it - it's buried deep in my money belt thing, only for use in a highly unlikely emergency situation where I couldn't access local currency or use a credit card. I have to laugh - I think I've carried that same $200 back and forth on a dozen trips, never used it. It's just for peace of mind.

I do bring along whatever stash of Euros (or other local currency) I have brought home from previous trips - that hard cash I do use upon arrival.

Posted by
752 posts

Isn’t Norway still using the Norwegian Krone? I haven’t been there in a few years so I may have missed something.

Posted by
5428 posts

I'm going to Norway for 6 months or so. I expect all my transactions to be in EU.

Expect your transactions to be in krone.

Posted by
1343 posts

I expect all my transactions to be in EU

Do you mean that your transactions will be performed before you leave EU and go to Norway? or do you mean that they will be in EURO?

Norway is using the Krone (NOK) but Netherlands use the Euro (EUR).

Please clarify.

Posted by
11507 posts

As a Canadian I always kind of laugh at american answers . I travel to Europe ( various countries) for 4-5 weeks at at time at least every 2nd year , sometimes with a few shorter trips in between , and I never carry american or Canadian cash - I arrive with 100-150 euros to start , just to avoid ATMs at airports and pay for taxi or public transport to first stop hotel . Never had an issue .

Whatever the currency of the country is that you arrive at , have some of that , but I don’t what you guys are thinking having “ green backs “ is going to do for you , only ones who will take it is currency exchange places , and they rip you off badly .

Posted by
8889 posts

Norway . . . . I expect all my transactions to be in EU.

Can you please come back and clarify.
As above, Norway is NOT in the EU and they do not use the Euro (abbreviation EUR), they use the Norwegian Krone (NOK).
And US dollars are as much use as monopoly money if you want to pay for anything. Even banks will rarely change them, unless you are an account holder. Exchange offices will, but only exist in tourist locations in big cities.

Have you told your card issuers that you will be using your cards in Norway?

Posted by
8239 posts

We only carry $100 when we travel. Norway is perhaps the most electronic society in all of Europe. ATMs are universally available there, but most people use their ATM cards for every purchase.
We use a Capital One credit card for everything we purchase, rooms and rental cars.
For walking around cash, we make withdrawals on a credit union ATM that doesn't discount 5% and charge $5 per transaction like Wells Fargo. We use the ATM card rather sparingly.
And we also have a secondary ATM card and credit card as backups.

Posted by
16110 posts

According to past posts, you have been to Norway (Oslo) on a fairly recent trip? So you already know about krone? Maybe your trip is to the Netherlands and not Norway, as that's the forum you've posted to?

And as mentioned above, you have a visa to allow you to stay in either the Netherlands or Norway for over 90 days?

Posted by
8645 posts

I think one reason that having some US $ is so popular is that Rick Steves suggests having $100 "emergency" fund with you. I'm not sure what good it does in Europe, but it can be handy on return to the US at the airport.

Posted by
971 posts

Lets face it, the idea that you need to have a couple of 100 US dollars in emergency funds in Europe is a bit condescending. It buys into the idea that good 'ol American dollars are good anywhere and that the poor locals will be grateful to get their hands on some hard currency. That hasn't been the case in Europe since the cold war and then only behind the Iron Curtain. If you try to use Dollars in Norway or the Netherlands (or wherever WhateverLA plans to go), you will most likely be rejected or get a lousy exchange rate.

Posted by
3521 posts

The only US$ I take with me are those I might have in my pocket already (definitely less than $50). US$ are totally useless in Europe. That includes Norway. Sure, you could change them when you arrive at the airport, but the rate you get will be bad as it is at any currency exchange. Just get a few Krona from the ATM there if you feel better having cash. Good news is now, especially in Norway, credit and debit cards are used everywhere without issue. Most merchants there prefer non-cash payments.

I only have local currency when I arrive in Europe if I have visited that country before and had some left from the previous trips. I never get any in the US before departure (I did once or twice when I first started traveling which was before the existence of debit cards and ATMs on every street corner and when Traveller Checks were still a thing). There are dozens of ATMs at every airport I have arrived at in Europe. Maybe a small number could be out of service, but with the large number there, I have never had issues getting money nor have I had wait in a line. This is for over 50 trips to Europe since 2000.

Posted by
3073 posts

Morten: I really don't think that it is patronizing. I think it is emergency money. Yes, if you try to use USD, you get a bad exchange rate. But there are cases where you need money, and having USD is better than nothing. In my numerous trips to Europe in the last 10 years, I have always had $200 in USD, and have never used a single USD once we have left the main US airports.

Posted by
27431 posts

Some of the major tourist destinations in the former Iron Curtain countries have currency-exchange booths scattered all over. I have no idea what fees they charge, but their posted rates are not bad at all (as little as a 2% difference between buy rate and sell rate) and they seem to be rather heavily patronized, so it is not accurate to say that in Europe, in general, it is hard to exchange currency.

I agree that the likelihood of needing to exchange currency is microscopically small, but the cost of carrying $100 or $200 (if it is your native currency) around with you is zero as long as you have a way to keep it safe (such as a money belt). Carrying emergency funds like that around in an exterior pocket or purse on a day-to-day basis is completely ill-advised.

I always take about $100 with me. Although I normally take the express bus back home from the airport, in a pinch I might need a taxi, and that would take most of the $100. I also want to have enough money to buy food prior to my initial departure just in case there's some sort of credit card hiccup. I doubt that many US travelers strip every last dollar out of their wallets before departure, so we're quibbling over how many dollars to carry, aren't we?

Posted by
16894 posts

The definition of an emergency is something such as a power failure or card failure that won't let you get cash out of the airport ATM upon arrival. $400 is too much; $100 is about what I bring. If you have local currency from a previous trip, then you're golden. If you exchanged some money at home, then you already took a hit on the exchange rate in order to feel prepared. Once you do get local cash, keep it "in stock." The home bills will be spendable when you return home with them. Or, there could be some emergency later, such as getting diverted by a storm at a US airport, etc. This is just one of a few back-up plans, which also include carrying multiple ATM and credit cards, if you have them.

Posted by
2127 posts

Okay.....this response will cause lots of people to begin piling on saying how stupid I am.....or that there is no merit to my reasoning.....but okay........

We never leave the country without at least $500 (sometimes more) in US cash....worn deep in RickSteves neck wallet adapted to holster style for my spouse. Some of it (in smaller bills) is then taken out and earmarked for taxi home from the airport.


Emergency back-up cash. Yes, currency exchange places are costly....but less costly than having to pull funds from a credit card (should the ATM network not work). now everyone will say, some ATM somewhere will always work.

But, there could be cyber issues with your bank (or banks, plural, if you have a back-up second bank) or a couple of ATM networks (or even credit card processing systems) right when you might need money the most. DO NOT LAUGH until you read some the previous speeches by FBI heads. Do NOT laugh until after you talk with some of the heads of IT security at large banks. Let's hope none of us ever has to experience that worst-case scenario. But, it really is a HUGE threat....a real one. Some threats play out, many do not.

$500 too much for you? Okay, do not take that much. Do not take 10 cents in US money. We all do what we are comfortable doing.

In a real emergency situation, $500 will not go far.

We do what makes us comfortable.

Posted by
5837 posts

The wonderful thing about carrying USD currency as an "emergency" source of money is that assuming you are an American, you can use the emergency fund USDs back home should you not need to go to a currency kiosk to buy local currency.

Keeping in mind that the USD cash is a short term extreame fall back plan, the important thing is to do what it takes so that your ATM/Debit card(s) and credit cards are not rejected. And should you card(s) become compromised you have a way to get through the day and resolve the problem.

I have seen one couple not be able to get their ATM card returned from the cash machine. I have had a credit card locked out and payment denied when the fraud detection system identified a fraudulent transaction attempt.

Posted by
362 posts

I too always carry 3-$100 which I never use but have to just in case. I always use my debit card when my home bank is open because I’ve had 2 instances where I had to call because I couldn’t get money.

Posted by
2829 posts

Is this about Norway or Netherlands after all?

In any case -- it doesn't hurt (other than foregone investment return) to carry some US$ in the wallet. This means that, should an emergency arise, you would be able to exchange the currency at the nearest exchange office, even if the rates are bad. However, if you do not use this cash reserve, it just goes back with you to the US, and then you really only lost the interest for not investing this small amount during your trip.

Both Norway and Netherlands are more "digital-transaction oriented" than the US. You will find these days card reading machines virtually anywhere, including at small food vendor kiosks. As long as you have a workable card, you can count on spending little to no hard cash, at all. Some establishments and services are actually "cashless only".

Posted by
2035 posts

In addition to foreign currency we purchase before leaving home, we always carry about $100 each when we travel abroad. We haven’t yet landed moments before a nationwide power outage shuts down the ATMs, but I’m still planning on it. The travel gods have, however, stranded us in US airports for hours or cities overnight when cancellations a/o weather disrupted our plans. Those greenbacks stashed in the wallet served us well. Just another back up.

Posted by
996 posts

I have to agree with Maggie up there. In the event you need US cash, you may find yourself in an emergency situation that requires more than just the cost of dinner. You can always put your emergency travel cash back into the bank when you return, but in the event that there is an actual situation, consider the possible variables.

I always travel with additional US cash when I travel abroad. Yes, I'll lose money on the exchange rate, but there are situations where that would be acceptable.

Posted by
2674 posts

I expect all my transactions to be in EU.

If you mean EUR no. Currency is NOK.

Do you think it wise that I still carry $200 to $400.00 in Greenbacks

No, from my experience Norwegian shops or businesses (except non-domestic ferry lines and very few in tourist regions) will not accept other currencies than NOK, if so more EUR than USD.

Furthermore notice that you will need a visa for stays longer than 90 days:
"Norway is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Norway for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. "

Posted by
14580 posts

In terms of US $ I usually carry ca. $100 in my wallet, give or take a bit. I don't leave home without it, to quote that generic phrase.

On my person what I carry in Euro is a different story, ie much more as the total amount is not all in one place but dispersed.

Carrying the US bills in Europe is always an option, if not a viable one...too bad.

Except for the hotel bill in Vienna, where payment is always done by credit card, I pay the daily expenses usually in cash in Austria and Germany but more often with a credit card in England and France.

Posted by
10358 posts

If you’ll be gone for six months, yes, it’s a good idea to have some stashed away in your residence for whatever reason. Carry it, no. Will you need the greenbacks, probably not, but if it makes you feel better, just take some.

Posted by
14580 posts


Keep in mind that having US cash in Europe on you/with you does not mean it is intended to be spent, regardless of the exchange rate. I would rather carry the amount literally anywhere from $80 to $140 on me than storing it in my spinner or carry-on shoulder sack.

Your alternative: not to bring US cash at all...not an option, period.

Posted by
5837 posts

After a long return flight to LA from Norway and a time change, you will be happy to have some USD on arrival so you don't need to find a ATM cash machine in your travel fatigued state. It will be cheaper to bring some extra USD at the start of the trip than find a Norwegian bank that will sell you some USD currency. A lot of travelers like to have several hundred USD on arrival in the States.