Cashless travel is a viable option for convenient and safe travel. Here’s how you can do it.
How to Travel Without Cash
Remember the old days when we used to carry bulging wallets filled with wads of cash whenever we travelled to foreign countries? If you didn’t want to carry cash, there was this thing called a traveler’s cheque - a piece of paper you purchased in your home country to use instead of cash. They could be exchanged for cash, if they were in pristine condition, without creases or folds. But nowadays, no one uses them anymore. If you want to pretend to be a lost time traveller, try asking a random stranger where you can cash a traveler’s cheque.
Today, cashless travel doesn’t imply that you’re broke. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to not carry cash when you travel. With the rise of digital payment options, debit and credit cards, and convenient solutions like the RHB Multi Currency Visa Debit Card, going cashless has become an increasingly popular lifestyle choice.
Why go cashless?
There are several reasons why cashless travel is a great option. First, it's more convenient. With mobile payment apps and contactless payment methods, you can make payments quickly and easily without having to fumble around for cash or check each note’s denomination. No more long queues at the money changer, either, only to find out they’ve run out of the currency you need. This can save you time and hassle, especially when you're on the go. You also won’t need to worry about pockets full of coins and small change. No more last-minute spending sprees on snacks at the airport to get rid of your loose change.
Second, it's safer. By using digital payment options or cards, you can reduce the risk of theft and loss. Carrying around a lot of cash can make you a target for theft. If you must look at each note before paying, you’ll be an easy target for scammers or pickpockets who will pounce on your tourist naivety. And losing your wallet with your freshly exchanged cash can be a nightmare when you're far from home. If you must carry cash, just bring along a minimum amount. You also save yourself the argument with the shopkeeper who won’t accept your rain-soaked bills.
Finally, it's more eco-friendly. By using digital payment options, you can reduce the amount of paper waste generated by traditional payment methods, such as receipts. If you do need to make a claim after making a purchase, you can always generate a digital statement.
And here’s a little travel tip: Use your RHB Multi Currency Visa Debit Card and save. How? The exchange rates for up to 16 foreign currencies are locked in to protect your money from currency fluctuations. You also won’t be charged any sneaky currency conversion fees. It’s like carrying multiple currencies wherever you go.
How do you go cashless?
Ready to embrace cashless travel? Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Download a mobile payment app (or a few) before your trip and link your credit or debit card to them. This allows you to make convenient payments without having to carry cash or cards. Check which apps are widely accepted in your destination country.
- Use contactless payment methods. Take advantage of contactless payment technology available in many credit and debit cards. Simply tap your card on a payment terminal to make quick and hassle-free transactions, avoiding the need for PIN entry or signing receipts.
- Check if your destination accepts mobile payments. While mobile payments are becoming more common, not all destinations are fully cashless yet. Research in advance to see if your destination is mobile payment-friendly. You can also ask your hotel or tour operator for recommendations on where to use mobile payments.
- Keep your phone charged. Since you'll be relying on your phone for payments, it's important to keep it charged throughout the day. Bring a portable charger or look for charging stations at airports and other public places. If you are using a public charging station, use your own secure cable that only allows charging and not data transfer.
- Be cautious with public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks can be insecure, posing risks to your personal and financial information. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, make sure to use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data.
Where can you go cashless?
You can go cashless just about anywhere these days, and each country has their own preferred mobile app, but here are some countries where going cashless is the norm (in case you are planning a holiday any time soon). These are also countries where you can use your RHB Multi Currency Visa Debit Card.
- Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland are interesting examples. Sweden, in particular, holds the distinction of being the first nation to introduce banknotes. Currently, Swedish merchants have the right to refuse cash payments – that’s how widespread cashless transactions are. It is estimated that by 20251 half of Swedish merchants will no longer accept cash payments.
- Hong Kong is expected to see cash transactions make up only 1.6% point-of-sale transactions by 20242.
- China. WeChat. AliPay. Need we say more?
- Thailand, our neighbours in the north, leads the region in embracing digital payment methods. According to a 2022 survey by MasterCard3, 94% of Thai consumers have utilised digital payments across various platforms.
- Australia could be fully cashless as early as 2025, with cash transactions making up just 4% of retail transactions4.
By embracing mobile payment apps, contactless payment methods, and other digital payment options, you can enjoy a more convenient, safer, and eco-friendly travel experience. So next time you hit the road, leave your wallet at home and embrace the freedom of going cashless!