It is cheaper to take a trip, credit cards or cash

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We have already examined in detail the question of what is more profitable: cash, credit cards or traveler's checks. But the bridge is already "plenty of water", and traveler's checks out because in Russia the most popular travelers checks of the American Express company are no longer available. We therefore once again in more detail and to qualitatively compare the two remaining the most popular ways to carry money in the journey: cash vs. Plastic cards.

We are in no way not discussed in this article security issues, as well as the profitability of the use of plastic cards with various "magical" options reset type 10% into the account, and the like. We will focus exclusively on exchange rate differences and the commissions held by payment systems and banks, or charged by the currency exchange, the examples of conventional debit cards.

So, in order to understand the question, what is good to take with you when you travel, credit cards or cash checks, we have performed some practical Experiments with the removal of money in ATMs, payment cards in shops, the exchange of currency. The experiments were conducted in may and June 2014 in Thailand and Malaysia using plastic cards of Visa and Mastercard, both the ruble and the dollar.

The results obtained in the table:

Operation Spent Received
Experience 1. Cash withdrawal at an ATM in Thailand with ruble card
Cash withdrawal at an ATM in Thailand with ruble card 22 506 roubles 20 000 baht
The conversion operations through cash 22 506 roubles 20644 bat
Conclusion: the exchange of cash through cheaper in 644 baht, or 3,22%
Experience 2. Payment card in a store in Thailand with ruble card
The credit card payments in store Big-C 1 381,08 rubles 1 269 baht
The conversion operations through cash 1 381,08 rubles 1 283 baht
Conclusion: payment by cash is more profitable for 14 baht or 1.13 percent
Experience 3. Cash withdrawal from ATM in Malaysia with dollar card
Cash withdrawal from ATM in Malaysia with dollar card 128,56 $ 400 ringgit
The conversion operations through cash 128,56 $ 403,95 ringgit
Conclusion: the exchange of cash through more favorable at 3.95 ringgit, or 0.99 percent
Experience 4. Payment in the store in Malaysia with dollar card
The credit card payments in the shop on Penang island $ 4.31 13.5 ringgit
The conversion operations through cash $ 4.31 13,27 ringgit
Conclusion: payment via cash advantageous 1.7%

General conclusion:

As shown by our experiments, the calculation of cash in Asian countries is cheaper than a plastic card. Especially the difference is noticeable when withdrawing cash when using the money card. With the dollar card, everything looks better, and it may even be a little more profitable cash.

What will be the difference when using plastic cards in Europe or America, we did not expect, but you can spend a similar experience.


For those who want to double-check the conclusions, here is the detailed information of the calculations for the experiments:

  • Experience 1. Cash withdrawal at ATM in Hua hin (Thailand)

    Date: may 14, 2014.

    Remove cash from ATMs 20,000 baht with the ruble credit card Visa. ATM holds his Commission – 180 baht. From the ruble account is debited 22 506 roubles. On the same date buying rate of dollar in exchange offices of Hua hin 32,05. The selling rate of the dollar at home in a real Bank (not a Central Bank rate) to 34.94 R. per dollar

    Do the calculation, how much would we have received if I had charged 22 506 rubles in cash in the same day:

    22 506/34,94*32,05 = 20644,46

    Thus, spending 22 506 rubles through an ATM we received 20,000 baht, and if it changed through cash, would have received 20 644 baht. The difference is clearly not in favor of ATM, cash is more profitable. And this difference is significant, and 3.22%.

  • Experience 2. The credit card payments in store Big-C

    Date: June 12, 2014.

    We make purchase in Big C in Bangkok in the amount of baht 1269 with the ruble credit card Visa. From the ruble account is debited 1381,08 rubles. On the same date buying rate of dollar in exchange offices Bangkok is 32.2. The selling rate of the dollar at home in a real Bank (not a Central Bank rate) 34,65 R. per dollar.

    Do the calculation, how much would we have had if I had written off 1381,08 rubles in cash in the same day:

    1381/34,65*32,2 = 1283,35

    Thus, spending 1381 ruble when paying by card we received 1269 bat, and if they change rubles by cash, would have received 1283 baht. Cash won again, but the difference is not so significant, only of 1.13%

  • Experience 3. Cash withdrawal at ATM of Kuala Lumpur with dollar card

    Date: June 07, 2014.

    For purity of experiment we use dollar debit plastic card. Theoretically, a foreign exchange loss of this card must be less than the ruble. A feature of the card is that for every cash withdrawal, the Bank shall withhold 1.5%, i.e. if it takes off $ 100 from the ATM, really from the account will be written off 101,5 dollars. It will all be taken into account when calculating the totals.

    Now, remove the cash from an ATM in Kuala Lumpur, 400 ringgit. Is deducted from the account 128,56 dollar. The exchange rate of cash in exchange of Kuala Lumpur on the same day and 3.19 ringgit but the dollar.

    We count how much we got ringgit if got cash at the ATM in dollars and changed them on the ringgit in the exchanger. Of course, minusuem of 1.5%.

    128,56-(128,56*0,015) = 126,6316 (so much would be removed in dollars)

    126,6316*3,19 = 403,9548

    The difference is again not in favor of the map, but she, fortunately, is quite small, only 0.99%

  • Experience 4. The payment at Penang (Malaysia) dollar card

    Date: June 01, 2014.

    Making a purchase in the supermarket at $ 13.5 ringgit. Will be charged $ 4.31. The map is the same as in the experiment 3, i.e. for the removal removed of 1.5%. The rate at the exchanger in Penang on the same day – 3,1322 ringgit per dollar.

    4,31-(4,31*0,015) = 4,2355 (so much would be removed in dollars)

    4,2355*3,1322 = 13,26643

    Finally, the positive balance! Purchase was advantageous when paying with a credit card. The difference -1,7%.

Comments / recent posts on the topic on the forum
admin 26 July, 2013

Without problems can buy cheques in almost any country and any foreign currency in banks. Russia is no exception: any citizen can buy checks. Just in case I will remind that now the savings Bank stopped selling the cheques they need to buy only from other banks. ...
9 September, 2013
from 1st August 2013. sale of traveller's cheques of American Express in Russia terminated....alas... ...
admin 9 September, 2013

I already know the problem :( :( :( :( . What kind of country we have, 19th century :roll:. The reason for the termination of sales is low demand. And how can he be high if they are just impossible to buy. Used to somehow the BEAC can be beneficial to buy, however I had to order them in advance, and large checks did not exist. And as the savings stopped sales of the like have no place at all was at a reasonable price to purchase. ...
Adaund 17 October, 2013

what does it mean? What are the implications of that are so "bad"? Explain, please, very interesting ...
admin October 17, 2013

As well, what is the consequence? Now they are not even in Russia to buy. ...
Kira777 30 August, 2017
Don'T know about others, but I have most of the money on the card. Beach valuables and money do not take. For all the negativity was not. ...
nausla 31 August, 2017

About the beach a little weird, not everywhere there are lockers.
I take Himachal from the smartphone on the neck where I put my money.
Also, try to leave at least one guard from the things. ...
kamneedoff 21 April, 2018
If going to the beach not one, not see a problem. If one, in the package (if you swim)...)) If just to sunbathe, then the problem of preservation, too, disappears... ...
Eric December 3, 2018
tell me please I have inherited travellers cheques American Express 200€ where I can change and what documents are needed if there is one signature ...
admin 3 December, 2018

Well, in Russia most likely anywhere else because we have more checks the entrance for many years. Therefore try to cash them abroad. If they can't, give to relatives/acquaintances who go, maybe they'll try it. Theoretically, nothing but a passport to exchange them is not necessary, but about the signature of course the question may arise that in the passport and on the receipt signatures are different. Try your best formal question to American Express to write https://www.aetclocator.com/TCLocator/search.do?lang=ru There is also a contact form and email. ...

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