One obvious way to avoid carrying wads of cash around
when travelling, is to use your credit card. Whether you use VISA,
MasterCard or American Express you will be able to make purchases and
benefit from the policies, such as reward points, guarantees, insurance
etc that your card may offer.
On your travels you will however find that
some cards are a lot more welcome than others. The main reason for
this, is the amount the credit card companies charge merchants,
which puts them off accepting the card or offer to pass those
charges on to you by increasing the price!
The credit card companies say that asking
the consumer to pay a surcharge is against their policies and if
reported that merchant will be removed from the network. We have
seen this first hand, where a travel agent in Thailand was
reported to American Express by an unhappy customer who was asked
to pay a 5% surcharge because he wanted to use his credit card.
The result - the agent was asked to stop
this practice or be removed from the network, the agent chose to
leave the network only to rejoin a year or so later without
changing its policy in any way.
The main problem with this practice seems
to be with American Express, which, while it does offer travellers
some excellent bonuses and benefits, is not, or at least does not
seem to be from our own travels, the most popular credit card
among merchants in Asia.
For example in Hong Kong it is quite
difficult to find restaurants outside of the major hotels that
accept the card, many only accept VISA or MasterCard. In Thailand
it is very common for the establishment to try and surcharge you,
and this applies to all credit cards not just Amex.
So, while carrying your credit card on
your travels will help, it is not all smooth sailing, and cash is
still very much in demand. Also read:
on using ATM and Credit Cards safely.
See other recent news regarding: