Top tips for travelling with cash, card or cheque

Have you ever been traveling on your own and used an ATM which swallowed your card? What if this happened at 7 am, meaning no banks are open? And upon checking your wallet, (which doesn’t have any cash in it) your stomach drops as you realise you haven’t got a train ticket which means you can’t get to the airport and the flight leaves in an hour…

If this sounds familiar or like your worst travel nightmare, get prepared for your next trip. Here are some tips for carrying cash or plastic when you next go on holiday.

Travelling with cash

The best approach for travelling with currency is to bring a mixture of options with you so that if one is stolen, you have others to fall back on. While it is not ideal to carry large sums of cash, it can be a good idea to carry a small amount hidden somewhere away from the rest of your valuables, such as your credit and debit cards, wallets, passports, etc. Try hiding your cash in areas such as inside your suitcase or in a clothes wash bag.

Using plastic

It can be safer to carry credit cards with you rather than cash, as if you carry cash and it is stolen then all your money is literally gone. Here are some suggestions to keep your credit card safe:

  • Only use your card if you see a point-of-sale system. If you don’t see one, then draw some cash out from an ATM. Never let your cards be taken away from you and where you can’t see them.
  • Keep any specific travel plans to yourself and don’t tell strangers any accommodation details.
  • Carry more than one card, but keep them in different places. This way if one is stolen, you can cancel it and you’ll have a backup alternative card.
  • Check that your card will be accepted in the country you are travelling to.
  • Consider a travel card – most banks can supply you with a travel money card, which allows you to transfer cash onto the card and secure the exchange rate, allowing you to travel on the local currency and avoid paying exchange costs each time you make a transaction. You may also get given a back up card too which is handy if something happens to the original one.

Traveller’s cheques

The bonus of carrying traveller’s cheques is that if they are lost or stolen, you can easily replace them by calling an emergency phone number. You can use them as local currency and in Australia you can obtain them from Australia Post in these currencies: United States Dollar, British Pound, Euro, Japanese Yen, and Canadian Dollars.1 If you are traveling to developing countries such as in Asia, the US Dollar is widely accepted.

Traveling safely with cash or card is possible if you’re prepared. Check out Australia Post for more information on Traveller’s cheques, Lonely Planet for more tips on travel safety and Smart Traveller. Also, before you go on your trip, make sure you check out our travel insurance to cover you for any unexpected medical expenses or lost luggage.


This is general information and does not take account of your financial situation.

  1. Travellers cheques, Commonwealth Bank
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