Nightmare Travel Scenario #1: Losing Your Credit Card and Getting Access to Cash

Every time I use an ATM, anywhere in the world. I get worried.

Worried that the machine will gobble up my card and hold onto it forever. Worried that I might shove it in too quickly before the flashing lights come on, somehow pissing it off. Punishing me by depriving my cherished piece of money giving plastic.

Ultimately losing your credit card is losing your access to cash whilst on the road. I can think of nothing worse than loosing my credit card, being stuck in some far flung destination with no access to cash.
It’ll be bad enough in Birmingham…

Would you have enough cash to buy credit for your phone? Enough to call your bank? Your mum?!

If you loose your credit card and left with nothing; either through theft, loss, or a dreaded ATM ate it, here are some simple tips to get some access to cash should this disaster happen to you.

  • Have a SPARE CARD!
  • Did you start your travels without a spare card? Slap yourself on the wrist! Hide a spare card stashed away separately from your wallet, buried in the bottom of your backpack.

    If you have bad credit or don’t have time to apply for a normal credit card back home, there are pre-pay credit cards available. (I use FairFX)

    They work like this: You transfer money to it from another account, and it acts like a charge card, similar to a top-up phone.

    You can also choose between Master card or Visa for worldwide usage. Rates tend to be quite good too, with minimum foreign transaction / withdrawal charges.

  • Stash some cash
  • Hide £20/$30 somewhere in your backpack. Prior to this calamity, if you have to spend your hidden cash in a beer related emergency – replace it!

    That little amount of money can pay for a room, a phone call to mumsie, or a bus ticket to somewhere where you can sort yourself out.

  • Get some friends
  • Your traveller friends can bail you out in a pinch. You can’t borrow money off strangers. How many times have we heard “Can I get 50p for the bus please mate?”

    Beg, borrow, (but don’t) steal! Say you’ll wire them money via PayPal in exchange for hard cash money (remember the 4% Paypal charge!).

  • Get some cash wired to you
  • MoneyGram and Western Union offer mega-quick wiring of money to banks in hundreds of counties around the world should you lose your plastic.

    You’ll need someone back home to help facilitate the transfer to a local bank wherever you are in the world. Hopefully you choose someone trustworthy for this critical task and not your mate ‘Dave’ from the local.

    They may need passport information for both sender and receiver, and may be asked for a security password between recipients to help authentication. “Gimme the money!” is a recommended strong password.

    There are some fees involved with both of these services, but I’m sure you’d swap a digit for a fist full of cash in this situation!

    Check more about these services here.

Good luck!


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