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Holidaymakers are going cashless

Holidaymakers are going cashless

Category: Travel

Updated: 19/12/2016
First Published: 05/08/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

When you head abroad, do you take cash or cards to cover your holiday spending? Chances are, you're starting to lean towards the latter, with research from finding that a growing number of people are relying on the plastic.

19% don't use cash

While the majority will opt for a combination of payment methods, a surprising 19% said they don't take any cash with them at all, relying solely on the cards in their wallet. This suggests that the days of needing to frantically exchange currency in advance could be coming to an end, with more people opting for the convenience of travel credit cards.

However, cash still leads the way, with 81% of respondents saying that they use cash when abroad – but 36% will use their debit or credit card, too. Nonetheless, the fact that cash can be used in even the most far-flung destinations leads people to still rely on this method, but perhaps some should ease up on the amount they bring with them.

Carrying around too much cash at any one time is always going to be risky, but perhaps even more so in tourist destinations where pickpockets will be on the lookout for an easy mark. It's worrying, then, that travellers bring an average of £450 with them in cash, and 21% said that they typically carried in excess of £500.

This could be a big mistake, particularly with 23% admitting that they don't check the amount of cash that's covered under their travel insurance policy. If you need to claim for a higher amount you could well be out of pocket, and in this respect, opting for a travel credit card will be far safer, as if it gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it straightaway and won't have lost any physical cash.

Combination is key

Ideally, it's worth having a choice of payment methods when you're travelling abroad. This means you'll have a backup plan should one form be lost or stolen, but it also gives more flexibility – if you're tempted by a particularly pricey souvenir, you'd be better off paying by card than cash, and conversely, if you head to a local market stall, chances are they won't accept card payment. It's all about being prepared!

It seems that many people are taking this on board, with 28% of respondents using at least three payment methods when they're abroad, including cash and cards. Pre-paid travel cards are another popular choice, with 11% of respondents using one, and given their advantages (you can't go over-budget, won't rack up credit and won't be charged for foreign transactions, for example), it's no wonder.

"It is interesting to see how many people are now choosing not to use cash at all when going on holiday," said Chantelle Dadd, brand manager at "Debit, credit and currency cards can give you peace of mind but may not be accepted in more rural areas of the world, which may explain why cash is still so widely used."

This is perhaps why so many people bring a combination of payment methods with them, and as long as you check the cash limits on your insurance policy and keep your cash safe and secure at all times – either on your person or locked in the hotel safe – you can be confident that you won't lose out.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.