Cash vs. Credit/Debit Cards for Vacation Travel

A recent survey by the U.K.-based Alpha Travel Insurance Co. reveals that nearly 20% of survey respondents say they take no cash with them on holidays or vacations at all. Is this smart?

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney explains his financial strategy.

Cash vs. Cards for Vacation Travel

Not everyone is quite so dependent on credit or debit cards, though; plenty of those surveyed like cash and like it quite a lot.

  • 21% typically bring more than £500 on trips ($780+ as of this writing)

If that’s sound high, the survey points out that the average traveler carried at at least £450 ($700+). Unfortunately, nowhere in the survey does it say how long these vacations or holidays lasted.

Suggestion: Cash and Cards

Depending on where you’re going, you probably don’t need much cash but we suggest you take some for the odd bottle of water at a convenience store, perhaps, or maybe a cash tip to an especially helpful service person. Perhaps $100 to $200 to start (£64 to £128) which may be all you need.

As for credit/debit cards, we suggest two. That may be one more than you actually need but it’s always good to have a back-up in case of loss or theft (make a note of the card numbers and contact info and keep separate from the plastic). See good advice on protecting yourself from card loss, theft and scams in this article.

Another suggestion: As long as you have the card out, we can help you find cheap flights.


Updated: August 12, 2015