How to pay your way through a vacation

If you have your mind set on a vacation this coming holiday, the question of foreign exchange arises.

Apart from paying your way through your vacation by cash, there are other forms of money available which are safer and ultimately cost less in terms of converting to stronger foreign currency.


Apart from being risky to carry around is that you will spend more because you will be charged to exchange local currency into the currency you need. A small amount of cash is however recommended for small payments such as buying items like drinking water and taxi fares.

Local debit cards

For a stay of several days or longer especially in self-catering accommodation, a debit card in the currency of the country you are staying in the least costly option. Your bank at home should be able to set up a debit card in the country you are visiting and ATM withdrawals, as well as other transactions will be at local rates that are fair

Traveller's cheques

These are cheques of fixed amounts that are bought by travellers in the currency of the country they are travelling to, and are widely accepted in the most countries.

Compared to using cash, traveller's cheques have a real advantage of being cheaper, as they are charged a low commission of 3 to 5 %, compared to the transaction fees charged on cards and they are still cheaper than buying foreign currency. Caution though, some outlets in some countries do not accept these cheques and one may have to exchange them for cash.

Foreign debit card

It is advisable to be wary about how much you spend when charging items or services to your card. While an ATM withdrawal, for example, is about $ 0.4 in Kenya, it may cost something like dollar, a euro or a pound abroad. If shopping for items then, imagine how much more you could be charging to your card. It is possible to over-charge your card or find yourself short while away from home.

For the sake of sticking to a budget, a pre-paid local debit card is best. A pre-paid card is one that allows you to deposit the money you have budgeted for your holiday and thus you are more likely to keep to your budget.

Credit cards

Credit cards are the best avoided altogether, because of the high cost it takes to operate them. If your account is in Kenya Shillings, for example, and you are buying something abroad in dollars, you may pay for the item and exchange commission.

Using a credit card in foreign currency is also unwise because you may intend to pay for it within the interest-free period, but find that it comes to more than you anticipated and that may be the beginning of a debt nightmare as interest is charged on outstanding balance and interest, which is how many people end up with unbelievable credit card debts from a seemingly small amount.

So, consider what form of money will cost you the least to convert and how safe it is to walk around with.

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