Before we set off travelling we rarely used cash, everything in the UK was pretty much debit or card based. However, in Europe, day-to-day spending can be more cash-based. So when we are travelling we rely mostly on cash. It is all about what is easy with minimal fuss, less chance of fraud and no transaction fees.
We pay for everything with cash and we only withdraw cash from banks that charge no fees for international ATM transactions. Surprisingly, most banks do not charge for withdrawals as long as you have the right type of card. We use a Caxton FX card (see separate article).
We never exchange GBP Sterling for Euro cash at a currency exchange booths or counters.
UK credit cards work throughout Europe (from supermarkets to restaurants) Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted.
We rarely use our credit card unless we are booking flights or need to cover major expenses. Most petrol stations allow credit or debit cards but PIN validation can sometimes be an issue. This is becoming less of an issue as banking systems across Europe become standardised but until they do, your card purchase could be declined.
Cash is the best, the easiest and sometimes only option especially if you are off the beaten track. If you are planning on taking a bus ride, a taxis, visiting the market or wandering in to local shops then cash is probably the only option. Also sellers might offer you a discount for paying with cash. Having cash on hand can help you avoid a stressful predicament if you may find yourself in a place that won’t accept your credit card.
Minimising debit or credit card use also guards against card fraud or theft. The less you use your cards, the less likely your information will be stolen. Remember, you’re on holiday or adventure, so don’t get stressed about money in Europe just spend it wisely.