ReviewsCash and Payment Card: Pros and Cons for Travelers
Cash and Payment Card: Pros and Cons for Travelers

Cash and Payment Card: Pros and Cons for Travelers

In the age of digital transactions, travelers face a crucial decision: cash or payment card? Both options have their merits and pitfalls. Join us as we explore the pros and cons of these two payment methods, helping you make informed choices on your next adventure.

Pros and Cons of Cash and Payment Card

Payment card brings convenience and added value to transactions. However, cash is a flexible means of payment in all situations.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, many people tend to switch from traditional payment methods to non-cash payments for quick, low-contact transactions and reduced risk.

On the other hand, some people still habitually use cash and think paying by card is quite cumbersome and inconvenient. Both card and cash payments have their pros and cons. You can choose a payment method that suits your conditions and needs.

A. Cash

Cash, the age-old form of payment, is tangible currency. Those crisp banknotes and jingling coins you carry in your wallet. It’s immediate, universally accepted, and requires no technology. When traveling, cash provides a sense of security, especially in remote areas or during emergencies. However, it has limitations: risk of loss or theft, exchange fees, and the need to find ATMs or currency exchange services.

using cash to pay for taxi service
Using cash to pay for taxi service.

1. Pros

Cash helps you pay flexibly in all circumstances and make transactions simple. You no longer have to worry about cases like forgetting to bring your card, having your phone connected to the Internet, or verifying through multiple layers of passwords on transaction applications such as e-wallets, Internet banking, and mobile banking,…

One of the biggest benefits of cash payments is reduced transaction costs. Credit cards or electronic payment methods often come with transaction fees (varied depending on the bank) and foreign currency conversion fees. Paying in cash helps avoid these costs.

Furthermore, in the evolving digital age, personal data security is a top priority. Paying in cash ensures privacy as it does not require sharing bank account information or card details. Additionally, some people choose to use cash to maintain anonymity in personal transactions and keep financial information from being exposed.

2. Cons

The limitation of cash is that it does not provide incentives when trading, meaning you have to pay 100% of the invoice value. As for a credit card with a cashback feature, you may get back a few percentage of the bill value. From there, you can save some shopping costs or use this money for other needs.

When using cash, it is difficult to manage your finances scientifically. All credit card transactions are saved as statements or you can check on the bank’s application. Meanwhile, using cash makes you forget what you’ve already spent and easily exceed your budget.

On the other hand, you cannot pay at a “cashless” store when you only have cash. This causes you to miss out on many shopping opportunities and exciting experiences at tourist destinations.

B. Payment Card

Payment cards, including credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid travel cards, have revolutionized how we pay. They’re plastic or digital, linked to your bank account or a credit line. Payment cards offer convenience: swipe, tap, or insert, and you’re done. They’re widely accepted, trackable, and often come with travel perks (like insurance or rewards). However, beware of foreign transaction fees, potential fraud, and the need for reliable network coverage.

Using a VISA payment card in a coffee shop
Using a VISA payment card in a coffee shop.

1. Pros

Paying with cards such as Mastercard/Visa/JCB brings speed, safety, and convenience. Instead of keeping a lot of cash on you, you just need to carry a compact card that takes a few seconds to make purchases.

Currently, shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores,… are equipped with devices to support payment by card, e-wallet, and Internet banking,… to save time for both sellers and buyers. In addition, when paying by card, you can pay exact change.

Using a payment card when traveling abroad also helps you minimize risks. If there is a theft, robbery, or pickpocketing, cash will be lost. With a payment card, you just need to call the card-issuing bank and request an emergency card lock to protect your money.

Moreover, according to regulations in countries, each individual exiting through international border gates cannot carry more than a certain amount of money. For example, you cannot leave Vietnam with the money equivalent to 5,000 USD. At this time, payment cards are the optimal solution to pay for large-value transactions.

The benefit of a credit card that goes beyond cash is the ability to take advantage of capital, even when your pockets are empty. If you travel abroad at the end of the month but have a lot of shopping expenses, owning a credit card will mobilize significant capital for all transactions. For example, some credit cards offer you a 0% installment interest rate, applicable to their affiliated partners.

2. Cons

Non-cash payment methods only apply in areas with relatively developed technology such as capitals and large cities. Card payment in the suburbs is limited because stores are few or not equipped with devices to support payment by card, e-wallet, or Internet banking,…

In addition, some locations and services such as parking, traditional motorbike taxis, local markets and homestays, temples, etc. often do not accept card payments. It’s best to keep some cash on hand.

Besides that, security from cashless payment services is quite high, but card security risks such as information disclosure and data theft still make users concerned.

With Mastercard/Visa/JCB cards, all information will be displayed on the face of the card such as the cardholder’s full name, card number, expiration date, CVV/CVC number (verification code), etc. Revealing the CVV/CVC number is illegal, which creates opportunities for crooks to access and take over the entire card limit through online payment transactions or take advantage of card information for illegal purposes. If you access unreliable hotel and tour ticket booking websites, you may also fall into the traps of crooks.

A Quick Comparison of Cash vs. Payment Card

Cash– Immediate acceptance everywhere– Risk of loss or theft
– No transaction fees– Need to find ATMs or currency exchange services
– Sense of security, especially in remote areas or emergencies– Exchange fees
– No reliance on technology– Not accepted in “cashless” stores
Payment Cards– Convenience: swipe, tap, or insert– Foreign transaction fees
– Process large-value transactions easier– Potential fraud
– Trackable spending– Need for reliable network coverage

– Travel perks (insurance, rewards)– Not widely accepted in less-touristy places

Remember, the best choice depends on your preferences, destination, and circumstances. A balanced approach, using both methods, might be ideal for your travels!

Making the Right Choice: Cash or Card?

In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Cash provides familiarity and independence, while payment card offers convenience and security. Consider your destination, spending habits, and risk tolerance. Whichever you choose, remember that a mix of both might be the ultimate travel strategy.


cash vs payment card - the broad life pinterest board
cash and payment card - the broad life pinterest board

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.

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