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

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%.

🕒 October 12, 2018

Comments / recent posts on the topic on the forum
Vishnevaya 3 April, 2018
The fact of the matter! Heard more than once that the Bank can block the card for security purposes, if it is to pay in a foreign country. So I always travel with cash. Moreover, it's easier to control costs, and the card is denominated and how much in euros will be removed - unknown: . Therefore pay cash everywhere, and the amount on the card is just for insurance. ...
admin 3 April, 2018
Have you heard that tourists are sometimes robbed, steal money from the hotels and even safes? Take, of course, primarily cash. And just like banks cards do not block. If you notify the Bank that you will use the card abroad, no one map will not block. And even if you forget to do this, the card lock can be removed on the phone. ...
nausla 3 April, 2018
To remove technically possible, though it is not sickly quest (my own experience). But I unblocked for an hour, then had to stretch the cash. And I received money only at the Bank, under the bleating operatsionistki that they suspected that the card has been stolen. Of course I then saved about 3 thousand euros, but was not happy at all. In the end, went to AlfaBank. ...
nausla 4 April, 2018
No, SB, I left eighteen years ago.) Even then, they carefully threw the customers. ...
admin April 4, 2018
Clear. I'm with RSB 10 years, although with them, lacks any surprise commissions, etc., but with the maps problems were solved at once by phone for passport data and the code word, and of course when calling from a linked phone number. ...
nausla 4 April, 2018
With the alpha I have no problems so far. But I even warned that for use abroad. Don't really know were taken into account or not. ...
admin 5 April, 2018
Now, many banks issue a special kit for travel. From Bank to Bank conditions change, but in General: one-time or annual service, cashback, work abroad without restrictions immediately, withdrawals without a fee from the Bank all over the world (rare), and the bonus of symbolic medical insurance during the trip subject to the purchase of products on this card. Oh, and sometimes interest on the balance of own funds on the card and rewards program with miles or just bonuses. So I recommend just to look at this card and not to use salary or social cards, which raises the most problems. Even if you have one or two trips a year, the card can be used to pay for ordinary purchases, and cash back and bonuses the service will be free. ...
nausla 5 April 2018
Well, I always use the classic type.) It does not have such problems as salary of electrons. And it is not necessary to overpay as gold or platinum. ...
kamneedoff 21 April, 2018
Of course cards, and more cards...and with the possibility to withdraw cash in foreign currency without the Bank fee (but maybe with the Board ATM!) But the ATM will be notified. I have with Tinkoff, ICD never had a problem. In Russian Standard, though called and warned, still on the last day at Barcelona airport blocked the card. I was very annoying calls to the service of the Bank and chatter on the phone about where and when am I going to go...other banks will not need to call in a private office in the corresponding section there are dates and countries and it works...period. ...

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