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Should You Use Cash, Debit, or Credit While Traveling?

Traveling doesn’t come cheap, and part of keeping your finances intact during vacation includes knowing the best way to pay for your purchases during your getaway. Should you primarily use cash, debit, or credit cards?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each choice so you can make an informed decision during your vacation.

Cash may be going out of style, but it’s still the preferred payment method for some travelers.

First, cash works anywhere. Sticking to a budget is easy when you’re only using cash. Also, money is easy to use to pay for small purchases when on vacation.

Conversely, cash is not the most convenient to lug around. You’ll also need to decide how much money you need for your vacation before leaving home because you may not find an ATM connected to your credit union while on vacation. Finally, cash always carries a risk of loss or theft.

Your debit card may always be your go-to payment method, but should it be your first choice while on vacation?

First, let’s take a look at the good news. Your debit card rarely carries any surcharges or merchant fees, and the money comes directly from your checking account, so there will be no surprise bills waiting for you when you return home. Tracking your spending is easy, with account statements available on your financial institution’s website or app.

The bad news is that your debit card does not come with robust purchase protection, and there’s generally no way to return a purchase. Also, your particular card may not be accepted by every vendor.

Credit cards are generally the recommended choice of payment method to use when traveling.

First, credit cards offer unparalleled security with fraud protection and the ability to dispute charges. Also, many credit cards provide travel-related perks for purchases, including travel insurance, rental car coverage and access to airport lounges. Finally, credit cards often offer competitive exchange rates compared to currency exchange kiosks when traveling internationally.

Unfortunately, credit card use does have some downsides for vacationers. Using your credit card when vacationing can trigger overspending, leaving you with a nightmare bill to pay off when you return home, often with interest charges. Last, some credit cards have foreign transaction fees, which can add up to a significant amount throughout your trip.

Cash, debit, or credit? It’s a tough decision, but with all the pros and cons of each choice laid out for you, you can make a responsible choice for your vacation.

Holiday Closure: All DoverPhila locations will be closed Saturday, May 25, and Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day.

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