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In Cash Overseas part one we discussed the main cash/purchasing options while traveling abroad. Here in part two, we’ll go into the good and bad of your backup options and emergency good-to-haves.

Cash backups:

  1. Checks
  2. Travelers cheques
  3. Travelex Money Card
  4. Mobile Wallet

1. Checks:

I always carry two in case of emergency. You may be able to cash them at an embassy or consulate. I haven’t tried taking one to a local bank. Might possible if you know someone with an account at said local bank.

2. Travelers cheques:

I haven’t used one of these since 1998, and even back then it was a hassle getting the thing cashed. I don’t know anyone who uses these anymore: to include Pauline Frommer, who says the hassle of trying to find a bank to cash them is usually more work than it’s worth. Can be a good last ditch chance for cash if you’re robbed though.

3. Travelex Money Card:

This is a option that works overseas and takes advantage of what I like to call the “Jason Borne effect”. This card is independent of your normal bank, so if someone steals it, they have access to only the funds on the card, not your entire savings account. I’ve used it with great success.
*These also have the ‘chip’ which is basically ubiquitous outside of the US.

4. Mobile wallets:

I looked into Google wallet, but didn’t find where it would be of much use overseas outside of using it to book hotels or flights with online booking apps.  You can send cash to another G Wallet user though – but that won’t buy you a pizza.  Also – you’ll most likely still need a cc for incidentals once you checked in to a hotel.  I called Hotel Tonight and they said that in an emergency, they would call the hotel to waive the requirement to produce the card. How about that for customer service???

With a bevvy of cash alternatives, good cash carrying behavior, blending in and taking steps to prevent yourself from being a target in the first place you should have zero problems with having to get cash in an emergency (fingers crossed).

Annnnnd just for fun, here’s some weird money laws to illustrate that it’s always best to do your homework first before traveling :

  • Algeria requires you to keep track of your cash upon entry and exit. They will not/not allow you to change Dinars back to Dollars ANYWHERE. Not even the airport. Nor will they accept Dinars at the airport to pay for items. Once you enter the airport, you’re taking home whatever Algerian cash you have.
  • Conversely Morocco has limits on how much Dirham you can leave the country with.


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