back to article Card fraud-fearing Brit tourists carry cash

Four in five of Brits are worried about possible fraud if they use their cards overseas with many (60 per cent) choosing to carry cash instead. Card cloning tops the list of fraud worries (46 per cent) followed by card not present fraud (42 per cent) among a sample of 1,700 Brits quizzed on behalf of marketing and travel …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who else read...

    Card fraud-fearing Brit terrorists carry cash

  2. Iain Purdie

    Fraud even with cash...

    Every time you withdraw cash from a non-Nationwide account, you're subject to a charge for using an overseas ATM. So even if you do use cash rather than plastic, you're being ripped off.

    As for just taking cash over with you, just yesterday morning, two Germans in my dorm had around €500 stolen from a handbag (we think by another two Germans in another room who legged it). So, yeah - there's a one in a gazillion chance your card will be cloned and you'll lose cash that you can claim back through your credit card. Or a slim chance you'll have your pocket picked or your bag gone through and you'll never see the money again.

    If you *are* going to carry lump sums, spread it around - different pockets, different bags.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the point in worrying?

    I'm sure you're at more risk with a large wad of cash than you are with plastic. Just take the same precautions you would at home, and if the worst happens; that's what insurance for.

    NB. Your bank can also help; when I took a year off to go travelling, my bank's (HSBC) fraud team were all over my international movements like a rash; this was sometimes annoying (they always seemed to freeze my card at the most inconvienient time), but it proved they were diligient about potential dodginess.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Card skimming

    It's no joke - we had a card skimmed in friendly Vancouver Island. The Canadians don't yet have widespread use of PINs, so they were always taking the card to run through manually and one scally did us.

  5. Solomon Grundy

    Card Fraud Expert

    What a crock of shit - "but consumers are still not taking the basic security steps needed to protect themselves"....

    Seems to me they taking more secure steps. If you use cash you don't have to take all those extra security steps. Looks like people are catching on to the scam of plastic money and going back to cash. Everyone gets screwed by plastic money - the consumer and the merchant both. The only people plastic money benefits are the banks/card issuers. Screw 'em.

  6. Steve

    wrong precautions...

    People seem to forget that a lot of 'card fraud abroad' is the result of cards being skimmed *in the UK* and then used abroad where there is no chip&pin to prevent it. Not taking the card abroad won't change that.

    As to taking cash instead, that is plain daft. When it gets nicked you have no comeback, at least with card fraud you have bank guarantees and travel insurance to fall back on.

  7. dervheid

    Cost of ...

    Airline Tickets £240

    Travellers Cheques £10.

    Foreign Exchange £25

    Not being scammed by some devious bastard...Priceless

    For everything else there's M***ercard.

    Or any other card.

  8. Tom M

    In my case...

    I don't use my cards abroad 'cos as soon as I do, my bank disables the card anyway "to protect me from fraudulant activity".

    Cash is the only way to ensure I can actually spend my money when on holiday!

  9. Eddie

    The banks don't help

    I've had my cards stopped by my bank for using it the mainland - even when I've told them I'm going on holiday to exotic places, e.g. Zeebrugge.

    Add in bizzare charges for currency conversions or using ATMs in other countries, it really doesn't make it convenient for travelling

    I've gone back to the wad of Euros gaffa taped to my bollocks for security when I go travelling, it's harder for my bank to screw me up.

  10. pctechxp

    @Tom M

    That's why they advise you to tell them if you are going abroad you numpty.

    If they did not have fraud monitoring systems and charged you for the lot you'd be crying foul.

    Yes cards charge fees but its a helluva lot safer than carrying notes/greenbacks/coinage or however you want to term your currency.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I check my statements...

    I always use cash when abroad (other than large purchases), but unlike a lot of people, I have no issues with getting cash out of a machine over there... so I get the best of both worlds (no large pile of cash for any pickpockets!)

    Most people worry about their card company stinging them with charges for getting cash out abroad, but in my case I've found that they charge a small fee, but still works out as a better exchange rate than when I got the euros over here!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've never had a card stopped. Then again, I don't assume that my bank knows my every movement :P

    If you know that you're going on holiday - perhaps you should tell your bank you are off to exotic far-flung places so then they don't stop your card.

  13. Kevin Johnston

    If only

    We took the precaution of telling our card issuer we were going to France for a long weekend and yes.....second transaction was rejected as the card had been blocked. Didn't help my temper when the charming person on the card helpdesk suggested we alert then if we will be travelling...

  14. Dan White

    Re: "In my case..."

    Call them before you go, and tell them where you're going, and the dates you will be there. Works for me.

  15. Chip Mefford

    Everywhere I go

    I carry cash.

    Accepted in more fine establishments than



    American Express combined.

    This ad paid for by people for a stable economy.

  16. TimM

    Risk is higher, but same with cash

    I'd rather not be carrying a wad of hundreds of £ in foreign cash (that I'd likely have got at a rip off tourist exchange rate) and get mugged whilst looking like the typical Brit tourist that I am, than risk plastic.

    Just carry some back up cards and the phone number of the relevant card issuer to get it stopped and report relevant fraud.

    Though I do agree there is a higher risk. Many places in America for example just take your card out of sight, it's swiped, and that's it. You may sign a receipt but that makes crap all difference, the payment is done. Usually you sign and leave without anyone checking. Petrol (sorry "gas") stations can sometimes require you to leave a card behind the till while you fill up the pre-arranged amount you asked for. Who knows what happens to your card then? ! (which is why I try to find pay-at-pump places, though they don't always accept my card or they demand a ZIP code).

    Anyway, using (of course) Nationwide for the no fees, both a debit and credit card, then take out small amounts of cash from a reputable bank ATM as you need it and pay the rest on credit card, and carry another card or two as back up. Other than that, I get a small amount of cash up front from Travelex ordered online (best rate) for bus/taxi/drinks/whatever before I can get to a local ATM.

    And just avoid in-store ATMs which may charge a fee (regardless of being with Nationwide).

  17. Lyndon Hills


    <quote> wad of Euros gaffa taped to my bollocks </quote>

    Must make paying for things interesting. Would you want to handle that cash, having seen where it came from?

  18. Pete Silver badge

    and when the restauranteur says "Non!"

    Yes, yes. credit/debit cards are wonderful - and sometimes useful abroad. However, when you find that "off the beaten track" little 2-star restaurant, finish your meal and wave the plastic, be prepared for embarrassment. It's not unusual for places away from cities to not take your particular card: or even cards in general.

    Given that the "survey" was commissioned by a travel assistance firm ) and that they're probably merely trying to drum up some business by stirring the FUD, I'd say that carrying some cash is not only a good idea, but much more common that the "60%" figure suggests. As it is, most experienced travelers take both and have the sense to look after their belongings.

  19. synonymous custard

    cash please

    I always prefer cash, of course the fact I look like i'm about to mug you, does help.

    I'd love to be there as some guy runs down the street with eddies wad (of pubes).

  20. Eddie

    @Lyndon Hills

    I'm more concerned with sterilising the Euros /before/ I stuff them in my boxers - an absorbent fiber matrix must be a wonderful breeding ground for bugs, and they're handled by dozens of people - who knows where they've been before you get them...

    Most paper money tests positive for E-coli and other nasty bugs, and in Rome, apparently most tests positive for cocaine - so that E50 note has probably be stuffed up someone's nasal cavities... lovely...

    So in brief - not worried at all (especially since it was a joke. I actually put it all in a suppository and...)

  21. Jeremy

    @pctechxp, AC

    Yeah right, tell them before you go. That'll sort it...

    Nope. I told my bank (who shall remain nameless *cough* Natwest *cough*) twice - once verbally on the phone to the branch and followed up in writing - that I was moving to the USA and would be using my card over there. Card worked for EPOS a few times and then whoops - would you believe it, first time I stuck it in a cashpoint, declined and blocked. "Please contact your issuing bank"

    To be fair they unblocked it as soon as I contacted them but still, they knew and still blocked my card even though they were pre-informed.

    So yeah, cash please, paid into a pre-pay debit in the local currency...

  22. Pete Silver badge

    @Lyndon Hills @Eddie

    > who knows where they've been before you get them...

    Quite. there might be another person who secretes their cash down their Y-fronts ... and then secretes.

    You probably wouldn't be the first person to contract an STD from a banknote, but you might be the least blameworthy. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @and when the restauranteur says "Non!"

    you should have either

    1. observed to see if they accept cards, clue little sign on door?

    2. vous acceptez ce type de carte?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    get one of those payg credit cards - top it up in euro (or groats for visting "oop north") or

    just open a euro bank account abroad -

    use cash and ignore stupid "research" carried out by Indian call centers!

    Paris.. cos i'm sure she could be PAYG

  25. David Barr
    Thumb Up

    Proper Advice

    Take around 50 quid in cash with you. Open an account with the Nationwide and use that debit card to draw money abroad from a cash machine. Nationwide do not charge fees, or load the exchange rate against you, all other banks do. They're running it as a loss leader, in the hope it makes you bank with them. You don't need to move your account there, just open an account and shuffle money in before you go abroad. Also take your own main bank account card with you as a backup, and your credit card. Let all your card providers know you are going abroad 48-24 hours before you travel.

    Be sensibly careful using ATMs abroad, you are less likely to spot a device installed on them as you are back home. If you're not comfortable don't use the machine. Be aware that some ATMs abroad may charge you for using them, and this is not your banks fault. In the US for example the majority that I've found charge, but I found that a particular supermarket (Publix) had ATMs that didn't charge. This is the _ONLY_ way I know of to avoid the treble bank fees, or double foreign exchange fees. (Bank fees - Bank charge for withdrawal, ATM operator charge for withdrawal, loaded exchange rate). (Exchange fees - Commission, loaded exchange rates). As a side note "Commission free" only means they've loaded the exchange rates against you higher. Travellers cheques are a bad idea too. Keep enough money to cover you for 2-3 days. When you have less than enough to cover you for today and tomorrow... go and get more cash. Don't get caught out because the only ATM around you're comfortable using is out of service, or doesn't look right.

    The above assumes you're going to a country where ATMs are common and you can use your card there. That does cover most of the world, but check before you go.

  26. kain preacher Silver badge

    Hates bank fees

    I paid for some thing in Canada (I live in the states) it cost me $14USD $5USD to have it shipped . $5USD international money conversion charge . What the hell happened to NAFT ??

  27. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    I use cash..

    I live in the states, and I do not have a credit card. I do have an ATM card, and pay cash for all transactions. In the US at least, credit cards place responsibility for fraud on the vendor essentially... Debit cards (which are being pushed more and more) place the responsibility ON THE USER. The bank *can* be nice and reverse fraudulent charges, but they are not required to do anything. Some dude could simply drain my bank account if I had one of these, and the bank wouldn't have to do a thing about it.

  28. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Pre Pay Cards

    When I went to Russia I made sure the HSBC FIRST DIRECT knew I would be there, the dates I flew in and out, and the cities I expected to be in, so that they would know it was me and not fraudulent use of my card; so of course they BLOCKED MY CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD FOR THE DURATION!!

    If I had not had a spare card from a different bank, I would have been fcuked.

    This year I am taking three different credit cards, from three different banks and a Pre Pay credit card as well as my debit card.

    As mentioned earlier, draw the cash out there, you get a better rate, no commission or fees beyond the overseas withdrawal fee, and then I spread it around different pockets and luggage.


    Mine's the smugglers coat with 200 pockets full of plastic

  29. Vincent Ballard

    People use their cards in the UK?

    As a fraud-fearing Brit I use cash in the UK as well as abroad.

    I can offer some anti-pickpocketing advice which avoids the need for duct tape or suppositories: take an old pair of trousers fit for converting into rags, cut out a pocket, and sew it to the inside of your non-raglike trousers. Repeat as necessary for each pair of trousers or shorts you plan to wear on holiday. Then you can carry a day's supply of cash in your wallet and the rest safely tucked away where pickpockets can't get at it and muggers shouldn't notice it.

    Ladies, this probably works with skirts as well, although it may be harder to make the stitching non-visible.

    Of course, if you plan on removing your trousers / shorts (e.g. to go swimming) you should make sure you choose a hotel with a safe and leave your wad there.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    What happened to traveller cheques?

    I almost never use a card (debit, of course: no need to increase the credit crisis, right?), not at home either. The risks are just too big: you are not just risking your wallet but all your bank account and possibly even more.

    Lately I don't travel so much and anyhow, euros are accepted almost anywhere you go, but in the past we used to either carry cash or, more commonly, traveller cheques, easy to convert in local cash anywhere. What happened with them?

    And, well, I almost never make Internet purchases that require credit card either. What happened to the old good custom of paying for goods at arrival at the post office?

  31. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Bank Scam

    Since the latest 'Verified By Visa' scam the banks have cooked up - the customer is now entirely responsible for 'impossible' on-line fraud - I've gone back to using cheques. I'm never in that much of a hurry. Suppliers hate it of course.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    'Homeland Security'

    Yeah right, inform your bank in advance about your travel dates and destinations so the minimum wage teenager from the call centre can tip off his mates who will burgle your place knowing no one will be there.

    I certainly don't trust some bank call centre employees any more than I would trust a bum on the street.

    I have never had any problems using my fee free Nationwide credit card abroad, despite never informing them when and where I would go.

    And if it get's cloned, tough sh1t, it's a credit cards so it's the banks money and problem not mine (has happend to me and wasn't any hassle for me at all, I just had to send them a letter disputing the transactions and that was it for me).

    Remember unlike when you use a debit card, when you use a credit card it's the banks money you are spending not yours, you do not have any obbligation to pay for disputed transactions on the bill.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    Carrying cash.

    8 out of 10 pickpockets, who expressed a preference, said that they'd rather tourists carried large quantities of cash instead of credit cards.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Just carry cash...

    I'd rather loose 300 rand or whatever than several thousand dollars. Anyway, completely secure cryptographic payment is possible. That it is not used is shameful. Perhaps a credit card company could get some more customers by being the first to introduce truly secure payment through a cell phone. Yeah, right, maybe in another decade or two. The killer thing about NFC is it has the ability to be secured, but you know it won't be.

  35. Andy Bright

    I think you'll find they are..

    "Awareness about card fraud abroad is growing but consumers are still not taking the basic security steps needed to protect themselves."

    Travelers Checks. 100% refundable if stolen, usually within 24 hours. 99% of tourists know about them, have the ID to use them (passport) and those that do have taken every step needed to prevent credit card fraud (by not using credit cards). Funny thing about travelers checks is they aren't subject to international currency scams, decent banks give you them for free and don't charge you extra money to use them in a foreign country (which is sort of the point of them in the first place).

    Shit, in most western countries you can use them in a supermarket or a restaurant or pretty much anywhere you'd go shopping that wasn't some flee-bitten tat bizarre tourists lovingly call an open market. The days of needing a bank are long gone.

    And of course the best part about them (aside from the guarantee they'll be refunded if stolen) is that you aren't using credit. So no nasty bills or currency scam surprises when you look at your next statement.

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