Traveling without Credit Cards?

Apr 2nd, 2002, 09:19 AM
  #1  
JB
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Traveling without Credit Cards?

I don't use credit cards at all. Is it possible to travel in Europe without one? If it is possible, is it very difficult or inconvenient? Specifically the UK, London.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 09:25 AM
  #2  
elaine
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It means that you have to rely on cash, which can be lost or stolen, on frequent atm withdrawals which can incur transaction fees, and/or on travelers checks which you pay a fee to buy, and then pay another fee to cash into local currency at an exchange desk, at a bank, or worse, at your hotel. Not difficult, just not conventional wisdom these days.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 09:33 AM
  #3  
trying
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JB: Actually, it may be marginally easier to travel in Europe w/out a cc than in the US. There are any number of small hotels that don't take credit cards (or who don't want to but will for an additional cost). Whereas, in the US, you are encouraged if not required to "reserve a room with a cc". One thing that may be impossible (and I don't know) is to rent a car. It is virtually impossible in the US to do so without a credit card and the same may be true in Europe (I just don't know). But obviously (or not) you won't need a cc to ride the public trans. in Europe.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 09:36 AM
  #4  
Sherry
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I am really amazed that you never use credit cards.
This is not a criticism, it is just an observation.
How do you do it?
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 10:08 AM
  #5  
xxx
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More important than "how do you do it" is "why do you do it"? Unable to trust yourself in overcharging? I don't feel comfortable carrying around large sums of cash. A credit card can be reported stolen and you're never out anything if it is. So much easier than always worrying about having enough cash. And if you pay once a month when it is due, it doesn't cost anything.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 10:10 AM
  #6  
xxx
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JB, I admire the fact that you don't use credit cards, but don't you get hassled a lot when you pay for airline tix in cash? You didn't mention if you use ATM's- if you do it is very possible to travel in Europe, in fact I get a better exchange rate by using my ATM's than I do with my credit card.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 10:53 AM
  #7  
JB
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I don't use them because I don't trust myself. I don't have much trouble in the US because I never travel, unfortunately. I'm usually too broke and also I have little kids and am recently single so have almost no opportunity. So, sadly, it's not really for admirable reasons that I don't use them.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 11:09 AM
  #8  
Bob Brown
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What might be an option is one of these prepaid debit cards. I never used one but I have heard of them. Perhaps someone with more experience can explain more about how they operate.
My understanding is that you have a prepaid amount of money credited to the card.
In reality I think they are debit cards because you are drawing down against a prepaid balance. The advantage would be that you don't have to carry large amounts of cash with you and you don't spend what you haven't got. Theft is my fear to be quite frank about it.
I was targeted by a pickpocket in Paris, but he did not take my billfold out of my back pocket. I think he did not take it because it was too thin for him to bother with. The important stuff was under my shirt.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 11:27 AM
  #9  
Christina
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There was a thread on here recently about those prepaid debit cards. VISA has one and AAA sells it, among other places. It's just called a VISA prepaid travel card or something like that. That might be a good idea, but if JB has a regular ATM card, it wouldn't add any benefit. It still means you don't have credit so a place using a credit card as a screener for financial viability or risk wouldn't accept it. Those prepaid debit cards are similar to an ATM card, but a fixed amount of money you buy. I've seen some bank's terms that had commission fees and high withdrawal fees when using them, so I think a regular ATM card is better. It was just like selling you traveler's checks, only in card form. Because AAA doesn't charge a fee for travelers checks, they might be the best place to get that, also (although the fee may go to VISA, because it's 1 pct similar to their CC foreign exchange fee). Anyway, I agree, the main problem with not having a CC would be to pay a really big bill, like the hotel bill. Otherwise, it wouldn't matter (that's mostly what I use them for myself when I travel).
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 11:41 AM
  #10  
John G
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What?? Are you crazy?? What would you do in the case of an emergency?????? On Sept. 11, my mother and step-father had just landed in Rome. They met hundreds of Americans who were stranded and couldn't get planes home. One woman they met was stuck in Venice for 4 days, paying $300 a night for the hotel, plus meals and other expenses. She said to my mother, "Thank god for Master Card." What would you do if this happened to you and you had no credit card? Plus, how do you rent a car if you have to? What if you lost your plane tickets or missed your flight and the airline made you purchase another ticket(s)? I would be terrified. Also, many hotels will not allow you to use the phone if you don't let them take an imprint of your credit card.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 12:01 PM
  #11  
Bob Brown
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I personally would not go as far as 70 miles without a credit card -- which would get me to Atlanta. I can understand the risk of overspending, but still, they are like an insurance policy.
Emergencies, unexpected expenses, etc. are the main reasons I would not go far without one.
For foreign travel, I doubt if you can rent a car without a credit card. I am not even sure that a hotel will let you stay there without a credit card unless you pay cash in advance. I believe in the US that the first question after I sign in is "How are you going to pay for this?"
I travelled about Europe for 7 weeks once before credit cards became available. I could not have qualified for one at the time anyhow. I had my money in traveler's check form to guard against loss or theft. But I had to predict my expenses carefully and I had to make frequent trips to the bank to convert the checks to currency. Even though the checks were denominated in Deutsche Marks, businesses would not accept them in West Germany. At least they were convertible at banks in Italy and Switzerland.
And my doomsday defense was in US dollars.


 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 03:35 PM
  #12  
rita
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Just a question . . . Have any of you credit card carrying world travellers ever tried to replace a lost card while on vacation in Europe? I have, and it was a NIGHTMARE! The television commercial with the guy relaxing on the chaise lounge as the bellman brings his replacement card is a joke.

While I will admit that credit cards are handy when travelling, I will never again travel without at least two cards (carried in different locations), a stash of travellers cheques (enough for four days emergency) and an ATM card.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 04:18 PM
  #13  
Sarah
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JB, you have my sympathies. I was widowed and had no credit built up in my own name. To establish credit, I took out a Capital One secured credit card. The way it works is, you send them funds, say, $500. They will put that money in a savings account to be held as security for your credit card. If you default on the card, they have the funds in the savings account to rely on for the repayment. The card will work as any other card and no one would know the difference. You don't need any credit and can even have poor credit and get these cards. It is a great way to establish credit for yourself. I did this and within a year they released my funds and now I have over 10,000 in unsecured credit available. I don't use them except to travel and pay them immediately.
You would also be able to purchase the credit cards that I bought for my kids when they were going on a trip. Call Citibank. You can buy these cards in the value you want. You can spend the money as any other card. I think the card cost me $10 to purchase. I also have the option to "refill" the card. I don't want my kids to have a regular credit card, but, I do want the flexibility this card offers.
There are fees associated with both of these cards. I traveled to Europe three times with only American Express travelers checks. The TC are cheap to buy and are redeemed at no charge at their conveniently located offices.
I ALWAYS travel with at least $500 in TC, two atm cards, and three credit cards. I wouldn't let the lack of credit cards make you stay home. Go, enjoy, and good luck! You will be fine, I'm sure.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 04:29 PM
  #14  
marnie
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I always thought that travelers cheques were the best because the credit and debit card companies ding you on the exchange rate. I gather that's wrong? or maybe it's just that cc and dc are much more convenient than tc?
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 05:58 PM
  #15  
John G
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Actually, Marnie, you get a better rate with a credit card because many "cambios" and banks charge you to exchange money. This doesn't happen with AMEX travellers checks if you exchange them at an AMEX office abroad. If you change your travellers checks at a bank or "cambio" you will be charged an exchange rate. Some of these rates are very high. Plus, I find it exhausting running around looking for an AMEX office to change my travellers checks into cash, not to mention the fact that if you are in a small town they may not have an office. I put everything on my credit card and pay off the balance when I get my bill. However, you do need some cash because some places don't take credit cards and you can't use them for a taxi.

 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 07:27 PM
  #16  
rand
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JB.
Your question was specific to London?
If you are staying in the city, renting a car is not in the equation.
Your airline tickets are paid for with cash or debit. You can use a debit card to withdraw cash every block in London (or should that be between any two pubs). With travellers cheques, there are many banks where you can cash them. Higher fees are probable, but your question was 'is it possible', not is it the most efficient? Plan ahead to not be caught short on Sunday if using travellers cheques. Do not count on being able to pay your hotel bill with TCs, ask beforehand and if neccesary cash your cheques the day before. You will use cash for all transport, entry fees, and food. I believe that if you are worried about self control, a little extra spent in fees well offsets a $5,000 visa balance that you cannot afford to pay off.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 08:31 PM
  #17  
marnie
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Thanks. Self-cotnrol isn't the issue -- feeling like a dinosaur is. Last time I traveled to any great extent in Europe and beyond I couldn't afford credit cards and debit cards didn't exist. So I'm stuck in TC mode -- or I was. I guess then, that my North American debit card will be recognized there (England, Switzerland) no problem.

Are there any credit cards that work better than others? I read in another post that even MC isn't always accepted. ???
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 08:52 PM
  #18  
Art
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Marnie and JB, I've taken $100 US in travelers checks the last 5 trips to Europe and brought $100 back. I only take it for emergency. Visa is more accepted in Europe but MC is also farily widely excepted as well as AE. As John mentioned, you usually get better exchange rates with ATM and Credit Cards. Ive used them allover western, Central and eastern Europe with no problems. The only thing is you should have a 4 digit pin. Some ATM's will not accept a 6 digit pin.
Have a great trip.
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 08:54 PM
  #19  
Econo-man
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You are a smart person, JB. Got rid of all but one credit card and ended up with so much money. I took two trips aboad last year using not a pre-paid card but a Visa check card. It is accepted just like credit cards, the limit would be what you have in your checking account. Otherwise you use it just like a credit card. I have also traveled using travelers checks just fine - always knew where the AMEX office is and what their hours are!!
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 08:55 PM
  #20  
rand
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Marnie.
My post was directed to JB. The origional poster. I am afraid you are stuck in 'dinosaur mode'. The last time you travelled to Europe, I bet you were not asking for travel tips on the Fodor's board. I still do not even own a cell phone, and this board is full of discussions over whether buying or renting in Europe is the answer. Never mind the 'which digital camera' threads, while I still carry a Nikon that takes 'film', oh my gosh. We all drag ourselves along with the changes as we can.
 

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