Best payment methods for travelers in 2023
One of the 10 ways to save money while travelling is to find the best payment methods in each country to reduce the amount of commissions that you pay whenever you buy anything or withdraw money. In general, the majority of banks and cards charge less money when you pay by card than when you withdraw money. However, for some countries like Indonesia cash or other payment methods like Wire or Grab Pay are sometimes more accepted than paying by Debit or credit card. In the following two sections you will see the best ways to save money while withdrawing and while paying. Finally, I will also talk about a section of transferring money which is becoming very popular in south east Asia.
Best way to save money while withdrawing money:
This totally depends on the possibilities of your home country and on the country you’re landing. For some countries, it’s more worth it to bring some cash and exchange them manually there (like we did in Sansibar or what is recommended for Argentina) but for Asia in general, the ATMs offer good rates and you are more secure, having less possibilities of being scammed while obtaining the money than if you do it with another person.
We chose the second option which is less of a hustle and risk as well because you do not need to bring cash all the time with you. Some of the ATMs in Indonesia don’t charge any fee so then everything depends on your home country.
Before doing such a long trip, we really recommend checking all the banks existing in your home country to find the best option that charges the lowest commission and has the best exchange rate worldwide. For us, living in Germany, DKB was the best option since as long as you have an active account (minimum 700€ a month), you can enjoy a free debit visa that
has no limit of the times and amounts you withdraw,
doesn’t have any commissions for withdrawing money abroad
and has the official exchange from Visa (which is one of the best in the world and it is very similar to the exchange rates that you find when you search the exchange rates in Google).
With the following referral link you and I will get 25€ when you open an account by DKB:
However, for DKB you need to live in Germany. Another option that works everywhere in the EU and some countries outside of the EU is Revolut. This is one of the best banking platforms I found and we also have an account there for backup and for instant transactions
It doesn’t need an active status (no minimum amount of money)
Doesn’t have any commissions for withdrawing money abroad up to 400€
Has the official exchange from Mastercard (which is very similar to the Visa one)
Moreover, it has instant transactions and instant deposits for free by paying to yourself via another credit card. This option has saved us in some situations where we needed bigger amounts of money on one account (like when renting a car without insurance)
Since this is available almost everywhere in Europe, I will send my referral link here so that you can get up to 30€ when you register
Best way to save money while paying:
The best way to save money while paying is to use a card that has no commissions when paying abroad and has the best exchange. Ideally, even a card that gives you cashback.
The above mentioned banks are one of the best banks in Europe to offer that. They basically don’t charge anything and Revolut has even a cashback program even if it’s typically only 0.1%.
However, there are some better options that work worldwide in which you can earn up to 8% cashback while traveling abroad without having to pay the commissions of paying abroad. All of them involved a combination of cards and the cashback you earn will be earned in cryptocurrencies. The good news: you don’t need to know about cryptocurrencies to use these cards:
Curve + Plutus: This is our preferred combination while traveling. Plutus gives you by default 3% of cashback on each transaction you do with their card. You don’t need to know anything about cryptocurrencies since the account is just in Euros or GBP directly (for now it’s only available in Europe). Plutus has commissions when paying abroad. However, if you combine it with the Curve card, you can get rid of these commissions since the curve card basically works as a card where you can add all your cards and it has no commissions when paying abroad except for 1% when paying on the weekends. We have written a detailed post on how to combine the cards for the ultimate combo to obtain cashback while traveling and avoid spending on commissions. But for now I leave the referral links here so that you can get 5€ and 10€ discount on Curve and Plutus. Curve link Plutus link
Curve + Binance: In the past (up to June 2023), Binance was ideal for cashback. They did not charge anything, you had the best exchange and you had cashback on every transaction in one of the top cryptocurrencies in the market BNB. However, they are a bit more stingy now and they want to charge 2.5% when buying abroad. That’s why, this is only worth it if you combine it with Curve in order to avoid the price of the commission abroad. I leave my referral link for Binance so that you can get 100 USD free trading commissions: . Binance used to have free withdrawals worldwide with the best exchange… I really liked that platform but now they are getting more stingy about this as well, even though it’s still one of the best ways to pay, buy cryptocurrencies and so on.
Best way to save money while transferring money:
Try to avoid Paypal. It has much bigger fees than the competitors. The best ways to transfer money are using Wise (referral link) and Revolut.
Wire and revolut offer competitive prices when paying in currencies of south east Asia and they are very common payment methods in Indonesia for example. Here you have my two referral links to get a discount on both:
Apart from this, there are different popular methods in Asia such as Alipay, Grabpay and Wechatpay. In Singapore Grabpay was very popular for example and we would recommend anyone to use it since it’s free and you can just associate the card to it and then scan a QR code to pay. It works in most of the shops and it works on the food courts as well, where you would think that only cash is possible.
I hope this post was useful and not too long for an overview. Please, let us know what you think in the comments below :)