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How much cash?

Generally when we travel internationally we take the equivalent of a few hundred dollars out of the destination's local atm. Although much of western Europe seems to be going cashless, we use it for small purchases such as convenient store drinks & snacks, ice cream, and fresh market shopping (and the always present pay toilets). If we have any cash left over we generally use it to partially pay the last hotel bill and pay the remainder with a credit card. This system helps us not incur a ton of foreign transaction fees for small purchases. This year we are not staying in any hotels so I would not want to be stuck with a lot of leftover SEK. I keep reading that Sweden is cashless, any suggestions on how much cash we should withdraw for a family of 4 for 3 days? We would mainly use it for incidentals or groceries. Thanks for any suggestions!

Posted by
5687 posts

Do you not have a credit card that incurs no foreign transaction fees? There are a lot of cards like that now that are easy to get - at least in the US (not sure if you are from the US or not). Even the Costco Citi Visa has no foreign transaction fees.

I take out small amount of cash from ATMs here and there as needed when I travel. My credit union doesn't charge any per-use fee for ATMs, though they charge a 1% currency conversion fee (Visa's fee). Otherwise, I try to charge everything on one of my no-FTF-credit cards.

Posted by
8245 posts

I always carry two credit cards and two ATM cards--one each for backups. We charge anything possible on one Capital One credit card we get double miles for travel and it gives full value on the conversion. We use a credit union ATM card without any foreign transaction fees. We get just a little foreign cash, as we are used to running on close to no currency at home.
I'm not about to use my primary ATM card from Wells Fargo that charges $5 and 5% discount on foreign transactions
Scandinavia is just about all cashless, and I think Sweden's talking about a cashless society.
But we hate it when that Visa bill beats us home. It's always a whopper..

Posted by
2 posts

I generally use a Bank of America card and they charge you for everything. I will have to explore some other options as there must be better cards for travel out there. Thanks!

Posted by
5687 posts

I urge you to dump your big bank and find a good credit union. Not all credit unions are great, but the good ones are far superior to any of the big banks: lower fees and better service, generally.

Posted by
5837 posts

Starting point would be getting a no FX transaction fee Credit Card (e.g. Capital One or a no FX fee BoaA card) and use the no FX fee credit card for all significant purchases. Yes, the Nordic countries are advanced and credit/debit transactions are the norm. If your credit card has FX fees, use it as your back up card. No FX fee BofA card:

I use my minimum FX fee (1%) credit union atm/debit card for ATM cash withdawals. It only charges me the 1% Visa fee. I use cash for small purchases. I would start with 900 SEK (about $100 USD) and see what your cash spend rate works out to be. If you still have SEK remaining, get a beer and sausage at the airport on departure.

Posted by
15717 posts

I recently spent nearly a week in Stockholm. I spent no cash. All credit card. Even the smallest purchases. No one blinked.

There are tons of "no foreign transaction fee" credit cards. Even from the big banks. Look into getting one before you leave.

Posted by
4352 posts

We also spent 5 days in Stockholm and spent not a bit of cash. To make my husband feel better (he didn’t believe me), I got SEK400 from an ATM after we arrived - ended up spending 200 in Copenhagen instead. The other 200 is still sitting here looking at me. (Didn’t get any cash in Copenhagen either.)

But the key is to have a credit card with no fees. I have Capitol One also.

Posted by
7050 posts

I keep reading that Sweden is cashless

My advice is to heed that warning instead of trying to figure out how much cash to take out. Use a credit card instead, even for small incidentals. Do as the Swedes. Ditch the expensive Bank of America card, there are lots of other options.

Posted by
92 posts

if you typically pay for your hotel with a credit card, are you using a card without a foreign transaction fee? if so, use that card.

or consider getting a card with no foreign transaction fee if you don't already have one.

we were recently in stockholm for about 6 days and i didn't take any money out at all. i used android pay on my phone for nearly everything, and the downloaded the app for for public transportation.