Your Guide to Cashless Travel
How to leave the cash at home and travel credit card only.
Apple Pay, mobile wallets, credit cards and more. The future of money is increasingly cashless. And, so too are your travels. From convenience to cash-back offers and rewards points, there are many reasons to leave the cash at home and pack the plastic.
From nice-to-have to necessity
Who doesn’t like added perks? Using a credit card to secure flights and accommodations can lead to major rewards. Just ask The Points Guy who has proven time and time again how invaluable credit card points and miles are toward getting the most out of your travels. And, check your card benefits – you could be entitled to free or discounted travel insurance.
Credit cards also offer an additional layer of security to cash, travelers checks or, even, debit cards. Whereas stolen cash can rarely be recovered, fraudulent activity and charges are more easily caught and refunded when using a credit card. Even so, it is always advisable to notify your credit card company when you will be using your credit card in a far-flung locale to avoid false fraud alarms.
While the discounts and perks are a bonus to using plastic, some service providers and retailers are going completely cashless to provide more efficient service and greater convenience to customers. Restaurants, rental car companies, in-flight food service and many other business transactions are increasingly going credit card only, making a credit card a necessity.
While cashless travel has many perks, there are a few things to keep in mind before ditching the coin for the card.
Know your destination
Many destinations accommodate credit card-only travel; however, cash remains king in certain areas. Knowing your destination is key to determining if you’ll be able to travel cashless. Just like certain purchases you can only make with a credit card, like renting a car, other activities, from local markets to tipping, will require cash. Know how and where you plan to travel to best evaluate your cash needs.
It’s also smart to carry more than one type of credit card. Not only are all cards not universally accepted, but sometimes good cards are declined. Notifying your credit card company of your travel plans also may help to eliminate the hassle of a declined credit card, but it’s still a best practice to have a back-up payment option handy.
Secure your cards
Digitally and physically, it is more important than ever to secure your credit cards and other alternate payment methods. Ensure any mobile pay, like Apple or Google Pay, options are secured with a unique, strong password and avoid using this same password for other purposes.
Locking your phone can also go a long way toward maintaining the safety and security of your credit card information and travel funds. While a simple pin number will do, biometric locks, like fingerprint scanning or facial recognition, are the most secure options for your smartphone. RFID blocking wallets also work to help prevent stolen credit card information.
Prepare for the worst
Make certain you know how to quickly access your credit card company if your card is lost or stolen. Whether you download the card provider’s online app, program its toll-free number into your mobile phone or email yourself scanned copies of your card, be prepared to act quickly to report any issues and request replacement cards.
While you can plan to travel as credit card only as possible, things happen, so it’s never a bad idea to have a small amount of cash on hand for emergencies and situations where other payment options are not available. And, just as you would do with cash, store your various payment options in more than one place. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you will have access to additional payment options.