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Monday, March 14, 2022

US travel: Is it better to use credit card or cash when traveling?

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Monday, March 14, 2022

US travel: Is it better to use credit card or cash when traveling?

What money to take with you to travel around the USA, cash or plastic - we answer these and other questions regarding money. Including in what cases cash is needed and which ATMs to use, Visa or Master card and others.

It is known that you can travel without money in two cases - in a dream or through YouTube channels.

In the US, the role of cash is minimized, you can pay with a card in 99 percent of cases, but there are nuances that we’ll talk about. But first, a few words about bank cards.

All known payment systems work in the States, but if you choose between Visa or Master Card, then Visa is preferable - it is pegged to the dollar. Therefore, either a dollar Visa or a Visa in your national currency. In this case, you will still pay a small percentage for the conversion, the money will be withdrawn at the rate.

IMPORTANT. When traveling in the US, always take at least two bank cards, in some cases, for various reasons, one of them may not work. However, this rule also applies in other countries.

The bank that issued the card must be large and reputable, otherwise there may also be problems with card payments in the United States.

For those who are going to spend a long time in the USA, it makes sense to get a bank card from an American bank - for this you need to open an account with a US bank. To open an account, you need the address where you live in the United States, for example, a rented apartment, a hotel address will not work. There is no residence permit in the States - so this is not a problem.

When paying in stores, they may ask if you have a debit card or a credit card. By default, cards of banks of the countries of the former union are considered credit, even if they are essentially debit.

You can get cash from the card through an ATM. In an ATM of another bank, they take a commission of $ 2 plus a commission of the issuing bank, which can be 1-2%. Conclusion - we do not use an ATM at all and take some cash with us.

How much cash to take to travel in the US?

A little, I usually take 10-20 percent of the amount. For example, if the total budget of the trip is supposed to be $3,000, then $300-600 in cash is enough, the rest is evenly distributed over two or three bank cards. It is better when one of the cards has a credit limit in case of unforeseen expenses. Part of the cash is worth having in small denominations and coins. In America, vending machines for services that accept only coins are common - parking meters, washing machines.

Where you will need cash in the USA

In 90 percent of cases, you can pay with a bank card, but there are exceptions.

1| Small private car parks

Usually, cards are also accepted in the parking lot, but sometimes there is a payment only with coins or give money to the parking attendant. This happens even in Los Angeles, though rarely.

2| Buses

On the bus, you can only pay in cash, and the driver does not change money and does not give change. The machine only accepts $1 bills or 25 cent coins.

3|Tips for maids

Usually tips in restaurants, bars or cafes, as well as types of taxi drivers are charged from a bank card. In the case of hotel maids, tips are paid in cash. $1-$5 is enough for such purposes. Cash also comes in handy if you want to reward a street artist, musician, or guy who helps you find a parking spot.

4|Automatic laundry

Often in small and inexpensive hotels or apartments there are automatic washing machines that only accept 25 cent coins. The same laundry machines are on the streets in cities.

5| Souvenir shops and small shops

Small souvenir shops or private shops in some Indian wilderness also accept only cash. The same story with buying from private sellers.

6| Small purchases

Not always, but quite often, purchases less than a certain amount, for example $5-$10, can only be paid by cash.

7| Game machines or drinks vending machines

In entertainment areas or public places there are vending machines for drinks and small items. Only cash is accepted there. The same story with children's slot machines.


  • Stock up on small bills and 25 cent coins.
  • You can exchange a $100 bill either at a bank branch or by buying something small in a supermarket.
  • If there is no cash at all and you don’t want to lose money by withdrawing cash from an ATM, you can ask the cashier to give you cash back when paying with a card - usually you can get up to $20 this way.

How to rent a car while traveling in the USA?  - Guaranteed a good car at the best price from both leading car rental companies and local rental companies. We are happy with them, and we wish you the same.

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Thanks for reading US travel: Is it better to use credit card or cash when traveling?

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