As mentioned before, even though it may be more expensive, you can use your American credit and debit cards in Europe, depending on the brand. Smaller names like Discover are often not accepted, but most places take both Visa and Mastercard. One thing that causes a bit of confusion for most Americans is that even when you have a debit card, you will have to run it as a credit card for any vendor to accept it. In addition, when you run your debit card, a 3% transaction fee will be added on to your total by your credit card company.
Because you can’t be sure what places will accept certain cards and which will not, I would suggest bringing two brands of cards, one or both of which you can withdraw cash from in case of an emergency, and local currency. Although you may only use it when you’re buying something off the street, it is important that wherever you go you have cash on you. Transitioning to and from foreign currencies can often be difficult. My best suggestion is to note both the shapes and the weights of the currency as this will make counting change and digging through your purse easier. For example, if you’re in England, you can take note that a pound is the heaviest coin you will encounter, while a two pence piece will be the biggest you find.
Travelling with cash does have its downsides. Whereas if your credit card or debit card gets stolen, you can simply call the bank up, cancel the card, and remove the fraudulent charges, when your cash gets stolen there is no way of getting it back. To protect yourself from getting your money stolen I suggest a money belt. I was sceptical of money belts at first, but they have proven to be extremely useful and extremely safe. I would suggest keeping 30 euro/pounds in your wallet or purse and the rest of your money in your money belt. That way if you get mugged, you’ve only lost a minimal amount of cash. Women, when you get into places like Italy and Eastern Europe, hold on to your purse – do not have it simply hanging off your shoulder. A more conspicuous way of hiding your purse would be placing on your shoulder as you would normally do BEFORE you put your coat on.
If you’re really interested in keeping larger items safe, I would recommend purchasing a Pacsafe backpack.
|An example of one of the Pacsafe Backpacs|
They have a one year warranty, slashproof straps, wire mesh on the bottom of the backpacks and zippers with clasps. To find more information on these backpacks, visit pacsafe.com.
Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also make sure to click the follow button at the top of my blog to stay updated with new tips and tricks on how to travel through Europe of a budget. Check back next week for a blog about transportation through Europe!