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Traveling with Cash

In a previous thread, I asked about ATM cards, but after the discussion it got me thinking, about how often would I really need cash on the trip. I hardly ever use cash anymore. I keep some, just in case. Even when I travel domestically, I never use the ATM. I have some cash with me and then use the credit card for everything else.

I could easily see getting about 300 euros to have on hand and that should be enough for incidentals.

Thoughts?

Posted by
7257 posts

Whatever you do get small notes 5, 10, 20 for those little things you buy. And hold on to coins for some places to use the toilet.

Posted by
6458 posts

Far too much. Maybe 100. Small denominates, definitely some coins. Use tap Credit or Debit cards.

Posted by
9904 posts

I think 300 sounds good, depending on where you are going. In Paris there are taxis that will say their CC machine is broken and want you to pay cash so although I do not take a lot of cabs, I always have cash on hand just in case. I'm trying to do everything via Apple Pay or CC but I do keep cash. I always want cash to pay the taxi driver from the airport as well.

I actually had seen the no CC thing discussed on here but had never run into it. When I went to pay for a taxi this last Fall I had my cash and CCs in the same wallet, the taxi driver saw the cash and insisted on that. I learned to keep my CC separately or take it out while my wallet was still in my purse. But, that's another story.

Posted by
6782 posts

Mariam, you could just travel like you do domestically. Some cash, cards, tap, etc. I find that my cards or Apple Pay dont always work here at home, so I like to have enough cash to cover anything I might need if that happens. And some places, I'd rather not use a card, like a market stall. You'll figure out your comfort zone.

Posted by
1381 posts

I recently did the 13 day South England tour, and added 3 days in London. I got £60 a few days after arriving, mostly because I needed to give another tour member £25 for a concert ticket. Most of the rest came home, because tapping my CC was so much easier, and welcome even for small amounts.

Of course, your locations/interests may require a different cash plan.

Posted by
206 posts

I walk up to a cab with my cc in hand and visible. Works every time. Previously I just turned away when told no cc..cabbie called me back and away we went with a Gallic shrug.
21 days in France in April <100€ cash. Tap in Rennes railstation for restroom
Bon Voyage. Brad

Posted by
4590 posts

Mariam, it’s best to use the same habits that are natural for you. For me, we have always just used cash when we travel in Europe except for paying for hotels, so that’s what I did for this recent trip. I purchase train tickets on-line with a cc.

Posted by
2742 posts

I’ve used very little cash my last several trips. It’s so much easier and safer this way. You will occasionally run into places that are cash-only, but that is getting much more rare. Having a few hundred just in case is a good ide, but be prepared to have much of it left at the end. Either save it for a future trip or try to pay cash for things on your last day.

Some places are more cash-oriented. Get RECENT experiences from others, this is changing very fast. The pandemic made a lot of places and vendors avoid cash which sped up the transition. In 2022 I’ve been to Lisbon and a few smaller towns in Portugal, and to Athens, Santorini, and Crete Greece. Ran into a restaurant or two that was cash only, and coin operated restrooms, everything else including taxis accepted credit cards.

Posted by
13711 posts

I usually travel with the equivalent of about $500 but rarely touch it as ATM and Credit Cards do the trick and the exchange rate is better than getting foreign currency from my bank.

Whatever you do get small notes 5, 10, 20 for those little things you
buy.

Hmmmmm
On my last few trips a 10 note (if they have one) would have been equivalent to:
Ukraine 34 cents
Hungary 0.3 cents
Croatia $1.38
Bosnia $5
Albania 9 cents

I suggest slightly larger notes.

Posted by
6509 posts

James E. I think the poster was referring to € bills - 5, 10, 20 and stay away from the €50 or 100 bills because most people don't want to take them or change those bigger bills.

Not sure what you meant by a 10 note.

Posted by
26 posts

If you do end up using a lot of cash and you are visiting multiple countries, keep in mind that some countries use the 1 and 2 Euro cent coins and some don't. My list visited started in countries that do and I accumulated a bunch, but then the last stop was Ireland and nobody would take them.

Posted by
864 posts

I understand that Germany and Austria cling to cash a bit more. But I used cash exactly once during my two weeks in Spain in March. And that was only to break a 50 euro note to have smaller bills, "just in case".

Posted by
42 posts

Going to Scotland/Ireland and England shortly. A private tour guide (listed with RS) wants cash. Also, taking a tour that you personally pay the hotels - and they want cash. SO - there are exceptions to the general rule that a tap credit card will do in most cases. But I believe you will know about these situations in advance.

Posted by
21844 posts

We have always used a lot of cash for most things less than maybe 50 euro or so. Find it easier and often more convenient. Some complain about credit cards being compromised or not working. Doesn't happen with cash. For us it works for others it is what is most comfortable for you.

Posted by
646 posts

I think it depends on when and where you are going. We go to Austria and Germany every December for the Xmas Markets and most everyone there wants cash. Many small/local restaurants throughout Europe also prefer cash. And we always tip in cash. We do use our CC for hotels and more expensive purchases, but we tend to use lots of cash when we are in Europe. Now, here at home, we never have cash with us.

Posted by
1916 posts

I am with Marna. Headed to Scotland and at least 2 B&Bs want cash. Makes a pretty good chunk since I am staying a few days. But also as she mentioned, I know this ahead of time. Making generalizations across “Europe” is not a great idea - it can get pretty country-specific.

Posted by
12970 posts

I always travel with cash in Germany , Austria, and France carrying 10, 20 and 50 denomination Euro bills as well as the coins, especially the one and two Euro coins. In Austria I always make sure I have on hand one or two 50 cent coins too.

In Germany and Vienna I have seen often enough patrons at restaurants when paying only to be told that their credit card is not accepted and some had to go to the ATM for the cash.

Posted by
13711 posts

Nancy

I was referring to:

Whatever you do get small notes 5, 10, 20 for those little things you
buy. And hold on to coins for some places to use the toilet.

But I see the OP did reference Euros ... so I guess I should have assumed this was advice for traveling to the EU (and Montenegro) and not to Europe in general. Sorry.

Posted by
28098 posts

I've just returned from a shortish driving trip to see friends in Switzerland, driving through France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Germany, France, and home to England.

I returned with the same Swiss money I started with (CHF 20 and about CHF 7 in coins) having used none, and one 20€ note less of the 50€ I took (kebab dinner in the Saarland of Germany), and about 3€ left of the 7€ coins I started with ( a pair of ice creams in a St Peter in the Black Forest ) so spent about 23€ spent in cash. All the rest was Apple Pay or for self service fuel, chip and pin.

Posted by
933 posts

Just try to spend it all down or convert it back to $ before you get on your return flight. Some currency exchanges in larger cities, so I hear, but, unless you know you're headed back soon, don't bring Euros or pounds home with you.

Posted by
93 posts

We took out 40 pounds on our recent 14-day trip to Scotland and London, and by the end of the trip were looking for chances to spend it. We had a handful of occasions that we needed coin change (laundry facility on Skye, public toilets in London), but used our tap & pay cards everywhere else.

Posted by
1243 posts

I understand that Germany and Austria cling to cash a bit more.

I recently spent one month in Germany, and only twice was I not able to use my credit card. One was a drink vendor on a KD cruise ship, and the other was a very tiny shop in a small town in the Black Forest. Otherwise, I used my card.

Posted by
127 posts

We needed cash in Germany in May (Black Forest, small towns). One night I forgot to ask about cards before ordering dinner, and ended up having to leave the family to walk to an ATM down the street... I also like the suggestion of keeping some on hand for tips, as most card machines we used didn't allow any addition. Hard to "round up" a few euros in that case!

Posted by
11973 posts

I have two supplies of cash with me. I generally keep about $200 in twenties in one section of my neck wallet (I prefer using this over a moneybelt, extra pocket or leg wallet). It's for emergencies. Normally when I get home, it's still there.

I'll get euros from an ATM. Typically, I'll keep euros in two places. In one of my front pockets, I'll carry a day's petty cash, generally no more than 50 euros, in tens. Most stores frown when they see a 20-euro bill or higher, especially if you're purchasing morning coffee and taking all their change. I'll also keep a supply in my neck wallet (maybe another 200-250 euros) for future days and recharge as necessary.

Most of the time, a decent credit card is better than carrying cash. Occasionally, a small business or street vendor will want cash (probably more so in Italy than in Scandinavia) so I carry some. I keep a credit card in one of my front pockets and extra cards (different accounts, not extra cards for the same account) in my neck wallet.

I don't keep anything in my pockets I'd be overly worried about losing. Anything I'd worry about goes in the neck wallet. I seriously avoid getting into my neck wallet in public.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks everyone for this lively discussion!

Is sounds like having some cash is smart, but mostly using CC works.