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Credit travel or debit card???

Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino
Hi
Just wondering what is best based on experience … a travel card, normal credit card or normal debit card?
Many thanks
Austin
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
Hi
Just wondering what is best based on experience … a travel card, normal credit card or normal debit card?
Many thanks
Austin
Best ask your home bank what charges they make for overseas usage but it's normally better to pay in the local currency than your home one ie € than AUS$.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Rather a lot, and hopefully more to come
It depends!

If you’re looking to withdraw cash from ATMs, then a debit card - ideally one which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

If you’re ever looking to (for example) hire a car then you’ll need a credit card.

Whatever you use always pay in euros and let your bank or card provider do the conversion.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Cash is still king on the Camino (even during COVID last summer anyway) - therefore definitely bring your debit card to withdraw cash. I only used my credit card before/after the Camino and on the rare occasion that I was booking a hotel directly at the hotel in a bigger city (Burgos/Leon). Visa/Mastercard should not be a problem. When you withdraw cash - 300 Euros will get you bigger city to bigger city no problem, if you are staying mostly in albergues or the occasional cheap private rooms and eating the usual pilgrim meals.
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Although I always carry a credit card with me, I tend to use my debit card for ATM withdrawals and most purchases. But, I now have a separate debit card that I use exclusively for travel. It may be unnecessary, but I prefer not to expose my entire debit account when traveling. Therefore, I’ve set up a second debit account with my bank and simply deposit my trip money into it. As @jeanineonthecamino said above, I withdraw cash generally enough to get me from city to city. The only problem that I’ve found withdrawing money from an ATM is if the bank is a small regional bank. It may not accept your card. However, ATM withdraws work great at the larger banks like Santander. In the past, I found carrying about €200 cash was sufficient. With higher prices now, I’d probably bump that up to €300.
 

DyanTX

DyanTX
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Sept 22 - Nov 3, 2016
Cards advertised as travel cards are usually rife with extra fees. Be sure to read all the fine print before purchase. I got one for my granddaughter when she traveled as a preteen and there was a fee for everything - every charge, every balance check, adding money, etc. A regular debit or credit card is best. I have a Charles Schwab card that reimburses all ATM fees and has no foreign transaction fees when used just like a credit card. I have it set up to send me a message with every charge which makes it easy to track spending.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Debit cards for cash for sure. Pay in cash as much as possible. Find out in your home country about transaction fees. In the United States I use an ATM card that reimburses all fees back to me. There is a wide variety of charges from machines across Spain. Now I don't even bother looking because I get the money back. Better also to use cash in private albergues and hostels when possible as many of the owners are hurting after covid and it is best that they get their full amount. That is why I always advise people not to book online as Booking takes 15% for their service, add the credit card fees and owners are losing close to 20% from the cost of the room. One small way to give back.
 

jflorez

Joe Florez
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: May/Jun (2018), Sept/Oct (2021)
Although I always carry a credit card with me, I tend to use my debit card for ATM withdrawals and most purchases. But, I now have a separate debit card that I use exclusively for travel. It may be unnecessary, but I prefer not to expose my entire debit account when traveling. Therefore, I’ve set up a second debit account with my bank and simply deposit my trip money into it. As @jeanineonthecamino said above, I withdraw cash generally enough to get me from city to city. The only problem that I’ve found withdrawing money from an ATM is if the bank is a small regional bank. It may not accept your card. However, ATM withdraws work great at the larger banks like Santander. In the past, I found carrying about €200 cash was sufficient. With higher prices now, I’d probably bump that up to €300.
>>The only problem that I’ve found withdrawing money from an ATM is if the bank is a small regional bank.

I also use a specific debit account card for travel, and also ran into this issue with small regional banks that indicated by network they would accept my debit card, but when I tried to withdraw cash it would return the error: "No funds available". That was a surprise! I was just thankful I was able to get the card back, or I'd have had to use a credit card for withdrawing cash the rest of the way. I ended up always looking for and finding Santander ATM's after that which never had a problem.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
Charles Schwab debit card works well throughout Europe and there is no ATM fee to withdraw money. If by chance there is, CS will credit you the amount charged back to your account. Upon arrival at the airport in Spain or other EU countries I go to an ATM and get euros so I have cash available.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Charles Schwab debit card works well throughout Europe and there is no ATM fee to withdraw money. If by chance there is, CS will credit you the amount charged back to your account. Upon arrival at the airport in Spain or other EU countries I go to an ATM and get euros so I have cash available.
I agree, that for those from the US that a Schwab account is the way to go, but unfortunately, @Austinpaterson is from Australia, so can't use a Schwab account.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Cash is still king on the Camino (even during COVID last summer anyway) - therefore definitely bring your debit card to withdraw cash.
In general in Spain, any Visa or MasterCard (debit or credit) is taken "everywhere". If you have tap-to-pay, even better... (easier for you). Some albergues might take cash only, so don't forget to get some cash as well (check your banks fees for taking out Euros in Spain).

There may be some municipals and donativos that still take Cash-only…but most places do take Visa or Mastercard as @ivar says! There is no need to stuff lots of cash in a moneybelt or some other creative measure to protect your bargeld. I went to an ATM twice and took out 300 Euros+ in 25 days for two people and departed with 200 Euros. We booked private albergues, pensions, hotels and Casa rurals…all of which took Visa or Mastercard. Every Supermarket and restaurant we ate in took those cards as well. We used the cash in bars for coffee, water, or purchases under 10 euros.
With a pandemic still looming in the background using tap and pay technology is a safer method of purchasing for all involved.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2022)
I agree, that for those from the US that a Schwab account is the way to go, but unfortunately, @Austinpaterson is from Australia, so can't use a Schwab account.
ING''s Orange Everyday Account rebates ATM fees both here in AUS and when travelling O/S, but only 5 per month and you have to deposit x amount of dollars to get this. I used an ANZ travel card once, only got it for the free travel insurance. Was declined once at the end of our trip when there was plenty of money in it. What saved us was that we never travel with just 1 card, at least 2 and from different banks. On the occassion our card declined I called ANZ to be told their whole banking system (ATM, Eftpos etc) was down. Thank heavens our other card was a Credit Union card, the fees didn't matter as it got us out of a pickle.
 

cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Hi
Just wondering what is best based on experience … a travel card, normal credit card or normal debit card?
Many thanks
Austin
Credit card. I’ve taken to paying with a credit card via a phone tap when possible. From what I understand, the credit card number is not transferred, making it safer.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Credit card. I’ve taken to paying with a credit card via a phone tap when possible. From what I understand, the credit card number is not transferred, making it safer.
That's true. A unique number is generated for each payment. I usually find it easier to pull out my phone than a credit card card, so I love using Google Pay to tap and pay.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
There may be some municipals and donativos that still take Cash-only…but most places do take Visa or Mastercard as
Yes - this is true - there are still a lot of "cash is king" places - especially in the smaller towns. I was more just commenting on whether or not credit cards "WORK". Yes - they work if they are Visa or Mastercard (not necessarily American Express) - but that is assuming you are trying to use a card in a place where a card, ANY card, is accepted.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
See signature. Too many to list here.
Yes - this is true - there are still a lot of "cash is king" places - especially in the smaller towns. I was more just commenting on whether or not credit cards "WORK". Yes - they work if they are Visa or Mastercard (not necessarily American Express) - but that is assuming you are trying to use a card in a place where a card, ANY card, is accepted.
Totally. Yah. Look for the sign that says, "no aceptamos pago de tarjeta", or something like that. That means credit cards are no bueno. That means no ApplePay or the like. You always gotta carry some cash! Just don't spend it unless you have to (in my opinion).
 

Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
I’ve always worked with the idea that I would prefer that neither my government nor any of its subsidiaries would know where I am nor what I am squandering my hard earned pensions on. I also seek to avoid assisting my banks or their commercial partners in targeting me with their latest cunning scheme for creaming back a half percent or more of every of life’s little transactions.
I find stashing an assortment of sovereigns, krugerrand and minor currencies in available body cavities meets all my needs and helps avoid detection when abroad.

I only charge 1% net for this invaluable advice. Anyone wishing to follow it can simply PM me with their bank account details, date of birth, Mother’s maiden name and, under some regimen, NI number. And relax: I’ll take care of everything else
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013, CF from Lourdes 2015, CP Porto 2022
There are too many moving parts for me to spend time trying to wrangle the best path to take on this subject.

I try to carry €100 cash on me most of the time. I have a bank card that I use to withdraw euros. The fees are the fees and I can’t over-stress about them. I only withdraw euros from my debit account (US), not make a cash withdrawal from a credit card.

Using cash only helps me not overspend, also.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
You always gotta carry some cash! Just don't spend it unless you have to (in my opinion).
I don't know about this part... I kind of like carrying cash and trying to not use my cards at all! I totally can keep tabs on how much I have spent and I have no debt when I get home! In 2021 I took out 300-400 Euros in the big cities. In 2022 - I actually got all my Euros at home and never needed an ATM. I don't recommend others carry that much cash - but I actually enjoyed not having to worry about finding ATMs or worrying about the ATM fees and not using my cards most of the time! Thankful that I didn't get robbed lol... but I already keep my fanny pack on my body or at least within sight at all times.

Yep- the opposite of what I do in the US - but it was kind of nice not to be tied to bank and credit cards. The only time I used credit this year was when pre-booking lodging online.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Rather a lot, and hopefully more to come
I don't know about this part... I kind of like carrying cash and trying to not use my cards at all! I totally can keep tabs on how much I have spent and I have no debt when I get home! In 2021 I took out 300-400 Euros in the big cities. In 2022 - I actually got all my Euros at home and never needed an ATM. I don't recommend others carry that much cash - but I actually enjoyed not having to worry about finding ATMs or worrying about the ATM fees and not using my cards most of the time! Thankful that I didn't get robbed lol... but I already keep my fanny pack on my body or at least within sight at all times.

Yep- the opposite of what I do in the US - but it was kind of nice not to be tied to bank and credit cards. The only time I used credit this year was when pre-booking lodging online.
Whilst I have rather taken to waving my ‘phone around to pay and pronouncing on how clever the Chinese are (same joke, different audience every night) I concur wrt cash. Unusually for me - and snatching a minor victory from the jaws of interminable disaster - I bought an unreasonable quantity of actual euros and dollars when the pound spiked on Brexit-night, and I’m still spending them.

An ample supply usually resides on Camino securely pouched where in a time long-ago (we’ve been married for a long time, and happily married for most of that) only Mrs Henrythedog might once have found them.

Yes, well, enough of that. I’m currently doing my level best to work my way from left to right through the offerings of the old guard-house in Malaga. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. The automatic spellchecker on this phone really is como los cojones del perro. And multilingual, it appears.

hic
 

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TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Whilst I have rather taken to waving my ‘phone around to pay and pronouncing on how clever the Chinese are (same joke, different audience every night) I concur wrt cash. Unusually for me - and snatching a minor victory from the jaws of interminable disaster - I bought an unreasonable quantity of actual euros and dollars when the pound spiked on Brexit-night, and I’m still spending them.

An ample supply usually resides on Camino securely pouched where in a time long-ago (we’ve been married for a long time, and happily married for most of that) only Mrs Henrythedog might once have found them.

Yes, well, enough of that. I’m currently doing my level best to work my way from left to right through the offerings of the old guard-house in Malaga. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. The automatic spellchecker on this phone really is como los cojones del perro. And multilingual, it appears.

hic
Spain undergoing huge increase in cashless transactions, up something like 25% at the mo!
Even some very small establishments seem to be taking them. Have noticed even those very small establishments offer the option to pay in euros or ‘home currency’ even for a €3 wine purchases!

Interesting that the majority of banks in Spain charge a fee for overseas card transactions (up to €7 euro in my experience for a UK card) but two countries in I have been in over the last couple of weeks, Italy and Germany, don’t seem to, well certainly the 3 or 4 I used in each countries didn’t! Neither do they offer the ‘euros or home currency’ on card transactions!
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Rather a lot, and hopefully more to come
Spain undergoing huge increase in cashless transactions, up something like 25% at the mo!
Even some very small establishments seem to be taking them. Have noticed even those very small establishments offer the option to pay in euros or ‘home currency’ even for a €3 wine purchases!

Interesting that the majority of banks in Spain charge a fee for overseas card transactions (up to €7 euro in my experience for a UK card) but two countries in I have been in over the last couple of weeks, Italy and Germany, don’t seem to, well certainly the 3 or 4 I used in each countries didn’t! Neither do they offer the ‘euros or home currency’ on card transactions!
I’ve a couple of cards including ‘Jaja’ - which, God help us - used to be the Post Office. (Honestly, the world’s run by teenage marketeers.) and ‘Creation’ who are abysmal.

The only redeeming feature of these charlatans is real-time currency conversion and no fees ex-UK.

If you could see me now, my technology-assisted ability to communicate that in any way is defying something which I can’t quite put a name to.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I’ve a couple of cards including ‘Jaja’ - which, God help us - used to be the Post Office. (Honestly, the world’s run by teenage marketeers.) and ‘Creation’ who are abysmal.

The only redeeming feature of these charlatans is real-time currency conversion and no fees ex-UK.

If you could see me now, my technology-assisted ability to communicate that in any way is defying something which I can’t quite put a name to.
I use Monzo as main card. Got Metro too as back up. Monzo=no charges for ATM withdrawals in EU and free up to £200 a month rest of world. No charges on paying at retail establishment anywhere in world! Very happy with Monzo, especially the immediate ‘Ching’ noise when you do a transaction! ! Get addictive!
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Rather a lot, and hopefully more to come
I use Monzo as main card. Got Metro too as back up. Monzo=no charges for ATM withdrawals in EU and free up to £200 a month rest of world. No charges on paying at retail establishment anywhere in world! Very happy with Monzo, especially the immediate ‘Ching’ noise when you do a transaction! ! Get addictive!
I used Metro for some significant transactions when working for a living, but through gritted teeth. They took some business which no one else would touch. - and the photos of the former chairman and his lap-dog were a bit spooky. (See ‘teenage marketeers’, above). Monzo, however, is interesting. I’ll take another look at them.
 
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TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Cards advertised as travel cards are usually rife with extra fees. Be sure to read all the fine print before purchase. I got one for my granddaughter when she traveled as a preteen and there was a fee for everything - every charge, every balance check, adding money, etc. A regular debit or credit card is best. I have a Charles Schwab card that reimburses all ATM fees and has no foreign transaction fees when used just like a credit card. I have it set up to send me a message with every charge which makes it easy to track spending.
Yes friends in the finance world always advise steering clear of travel cards due fees! That said some people like them as they help manage their money. I guess there is a psychological aspect as we have seen a lot of folks overpaying their credit cards before a trip so they don’t have a big bill when they get back. Strictly speaking not the best use of funds but I understand the approach and the ‘warm glow’ when the next months CC bill drops through! Bit like buying Xmas presents in February! Especially as we are dealing on relatively small amounts to of money.
 
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Sirron

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May-July 2023
Although I always carry a credit card with me, I tend to use my debit card for ATM withdrawals and most purchases. But, I now have a separate debit card that I use exclusively for travel. It may be unnecessary, but I prefer not to expose my entire debit account when traveling. Therefore, I’ve set up a second debit account with my bank and simply deposit my trip money into it. As @jeanineonthecamino said above, I withdraw cash generally enough to get me from city to city. The only problem that I’ve found withdrawing money from an ATM is if the bank is a small regional bank. It may not accept your card. However, ATM withdraws work great at the larger banks like Santander. In the past, I found carrying about €200 cash was sufficient. With higher prices now, I’d probably bump that up to €300.
this is what I do.
 

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