Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What shall we take to Cyprus - cash, travellers' cheques or Thomas Cook cash card?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 22 July 2013
Q We are going to Cyprus. Which is the best to take: cash, travellers' cheques or the Thomas Cook cash card? I always take my credit card for emergencies too, because you just never know what might happen.
Susan Thompson, Newcastle
A Delete travellers' cheques from your list at once. In the 20th century they were valuable weapons in the holidaymaker's armoury, but they have outlived their usefulness: if you need the security of knowing you will get your money back in the event of loss or theft, simply use a pre-paid card of the sort offered by Thomas Cook. You can load this with euros at a specific rate, and use it in ATMs to draw cash abroad. Or to pay for goods or services as you would a credit or debit card - only without the charges and exchange-rate uncertainty this can entail. If the card is lost or stolen, it is PIN-protected.
Fees for pre-paid cards are levied in different ways for loading, spending and using ATMs, so shop around to see which is best for you if you choose to use one.
Personally, though, to somewhere safe and UK-friendly such as Cyprus I would simply take sterling in cash. You will find plenty of bureaux de change offering rates that c to the very best obtainable in the UK, so you can just change what you need as you go along.
Finally, I heartily agree that a credit card is a useful last resort; I have just switched from Halifax - now levying a punishing 3 per cent "Non-Sterling Transaction Fee" - to the fee-free Capital One Aspire World. But if you are using a credit card merely as a back up, there's no compelling reason to switch.
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