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 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 Porucheno 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, withdraw cash at the ATM in Kulal 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
Michurin 12 Feb 2017, 09:51
I find it easier the old fashioned way, cash and card, more simple and prizemleniya method the most reliable. ...
Katakana 26 may 2017, 15:55
how many are traveling, always make sure that need cash and cards will be useful, but the checks never used... ...
Dimasta 11 Jul 2017, 12:55
I think that plastic definitely ...
helga3682 22 may 2017, 20:17
If you're in a popular tourist town, you need to take cash.
Well, if, for example, your journey will be in the fields of Tuscany, feel free to take the cash (because the map there is still need to manage to use properly).... Then depending where...50/50, I guess. ...
admin 23 Aug 2017, 15:09
Well, all right, what are the benefits of credit card if used will not work ...
nausla 23 Aug 2017, 16:21
I think it all depends on the task and situation. Here I climbed through the mountains of Northern Norway and I didn't need any money. When down was used mostly by cards. But in the mountains of Austria cash was not needed, but the cards needed on a regular basis, lifts, food, equipment. In the same situation in Russia cards do not only apply the cache. As for example in Nepal, but there you can still find places where the terminals operate. ...
, Malytka 03 Sep 2017, 05:05
I always had to use cash only. ...
Walker 19 may 2017, 16:49
Take cash and be sure to get enough for housing and road feedback and a map. And of course put in different places. Checks have not tried yet. ...
admin 19 may 2017, 17:43
It seems that a long time will not be able to use cheques. Half a year ago, I tried to find them on sale, thought the situation has changed and you can buy. Anywhere did not find, not sold in Russia . ...
lonik 23 may 2017, 14:56
A journey always take cash and cards, you never know what can happen. ...