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Carrying Cash on Tour

Old 09-22-21, 06:35 PM
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TiHabanero
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Carrying Cash on Tour

In planning a cross country trip I have come upon an unexpected topic. Carry cash or rely upon a credit card. Obviously the answer is to have both, however all along I have been planning this trip as a cash trip. Have not been on tour of this length before and am planning a budget of 3000 dollars. I have ridden in foreign countries and only carried cash, but not 3 grand and they were only week long solo tours.
Is it unreasonable to carry that much cash on a tour? Who here has done this? Would you do it again?
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Old 09-22-21, 06:45 PM
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A Debit card sounds good.

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Old 09-22-21, 07:39 PM
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If using credit cards, make sure to let your CC company know ahead of time so they don't lock your account. Mine has done so on several occasions.

I flew from Cleveland to Tampa to buy a car and drive it home in 1100 miles over 36 hours. Nope. Too many out-of-state gas fill-ups and they froze my account. Had to call to get it unlocked.

My only multi-state bicycle tour was over 40 years ago, and I left home with $100 in cash to last me 10 days (five days / 450 miles each way) That'd probably be $400-500 today. I stealth camped, ate at greasy-spoons and/or McD's/Burger King back when I could get three burgers, sm fries, shake and pie for $2 for dinner.




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Old 09-22-21, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post

My only multi-state bicycle tour was over 40 years ago, and I left home with $100 in cash to last me 10 days
Life without concern. It was a nice place to be.
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Old 09-22-21, 09:49 PM
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I bring a debit card for ATMs and credit cards (at least two) when I travel. I might have $250 on me, but no more. Some small campgrounds, bakeries and some restaurants however will not take credit cards and a few won't take any plastic so I always have some cash for those occasions, I like to have at least $50. (I also only leave cash for restaurant tips, but that is just me, I want to make sure the person gets the tip when I leave one.) Some credit cards have a phone app that you can use to turn off the card from working if you are concerned about theft, then turn on the card when necessary.

I occasionally read an article that police pull someone over for some simple reason, finds that they have thousands of dollars on them, confiscates the cash under the pretense that it is suspected proceeds from criminal activity, and then gives them a receipt and wishes that they have a nice day. If they really suspected criminal activity, they would arrest them, but their police dept wants the cash, so they take it because they can.

A couple years ago the police confiscated more money under that pretense than there were reported burglaries that year. Headline from Washington Post:
Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year
By
Christopher Ingraham
November 23, 2015


From same source, less than a month ago:
A former Marine was pulled over for following a truck too closely. Police took nearly $87,000 of his cash.
By
Matt Zapotosky
September 1, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. EDT


Three times one of my credit cards stopped working on a trip, two of those times someone stole the number so the credit card company could not reactivate the cards. The credit card company had no way to get a card to me so I had one less card after that until I got home, thus I think you want two or more credit cards. A friend of mine was stuck for a week in some small community in Eastern Europe until a credit card company could get a replacement card to him on a bike tour.

Credit cards offer more consumer protection than debit cards, thus I only use debit card in ATM or on VERY rare occasion at a store that will accept debit but not credit cards.

Related note, I lost my wallet in a airport over a decade ago. Fortunately my license was in my shirt pocket, not wallet so I had a photo ID. But after that experience, I like to carry a second photo ID when I travel, kept somewhere other than my wallet. When I got my last two passports, I also got the passport card to serve as my backup photo ID.

I do not remember what country I was in when I took this photo, but they wanted american dollars to be spent there.



Don't forget a corkscrew and have a great trip.

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Old 09-22-21, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Oakman View Post
A Debit card sounds good.

​​​​
Yup, some cash and let plastic do the rest
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Old 09-23-21, 01:37 AM
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Some cash, a debit card to get more cash from ATM machines, and two credit cards.
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Old 09-23-21, 03:43 AM
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In day to day life for me cash is king. I only use plastic on large purchases or online.

However there is a lot of wisdom in the above replies. For an excursion such as yours I believe a combo would be where I'd be. Strictly for safety reasons. Tourist MSN's reply has a lot to think about as well. Agencies have taken cars, homes, cash, etc from 100% innocent people and there is absolutely zero the person can do.... poof gone. But hey, that won't happen to me... until it does.

If you're gonna carry a lot of cash try to figure out a place to stash the cash. Such as if you have drop bars, pull the bar plug and roll up the majority of the cash in the handle bar. And keep a hundred or so on you. You don't want to be pulling out a stack for lunch and having others around you seeing the stack.
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Old 09-23-21, 05:17 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Hasek View Post
...
If you're gonna carry a lot of cash try to figure out a place to stash the cash. Such as if you have drop bars, pull the bar plug and roll up the majority of the cash in the handle bar. And keep a hundred or so on you. You don't want to be pulling out a stack for lunch and having others around you seeing the stack.
A few weeks ago someone on this forum started a poll, road bike shorts or mountain bike shorts for touring. I recall saying always mountain bike shorts that have at least one pocket. When touring my wallet is in a zipped pocket. I have my other backups in either a toilet kit or somewhere in my handlebar bag which goes in restaurants or stores with me. I also have photos of my IDs and plastic on my phone. And I have my credit card company phone numbers in my contact list in case I need to start calling them about theft, which I had to do once over a decade ago.

Some stores do not want me carrying a handlebar bag in the store, for example a local hardware store in my community. But I just leave the bag with the cashier and don't make a big deal about it.

This is my wallet of choice for touring, however they usually start cracking and falling apart, probably will not last for a three month tour. But I have used them for a four week, five week tour and seven week tour. A small amount of cash, an ID and a couple credit cards will fill it up. But for touring you want a wallet that does not hold much, so a minimalist wallet forces me to carry only what I need.
https://www.amazon.com/Coghlans-9918.../dp/B000FAMT9K

Ex Officio, a travel clothing company used to put a passport sized zipper pocket on some of their pants at ankle height but I think they stopped doing that over a decade ago. Unless you were looking for it, you did not even see it. I do not carry those pants on bike tours, but I wear those pants when I go to Europe or some other location where I am vacationing in touristy areas. Ex Officio also has zippered passport size pockets on some of their shirts. And a couple decades ago REI also had zippered passport pockets on some of their shirts. A few other companies have done something like that too, I have a Royal Robbins shirt that has a velcro closure pocket inside that is passport sized. These clothes are not designed for wear on a bike on a bike tour, but were designed for travel. And I usually bring at least one item that has a passport zippered (or velcro closure) size hidden pocket to wear off the bike when I bike tour.

I am spending way too much time writing this stuff, quitting here. You get the idea.
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Old 09-23-21, 07:33 AM
  #10  
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I like to carry a some cash and have both debit and credit cards along. I try to limit cash carried to a couple hundred dollars or a bit more depending. I use credit cards so as to avoid fees or interest so I choose cards with no fees, pay them off each month, and also choose ones that pay a reward. I might have a card associated with a fee or menbership if the benefit is a big enough bonus. REI and Costco both wind up paying me hundreds of dollars per year to use their cards. So I generally prefer using the credit cards over the debit card most of the time, since I know I'll be getting a 5% dividend or airline miles or whatever. I most often use the REI card and get some nice gear or clothing each year with the dividend.

Some small businesses seem to greatly appreciate cash payment. Also some campsite had honor boxes for payment so having cash in small denomination bills for exact change is good. So some cash is nice. A paper check usually also works for the honor boxes though. These days cash seems to be less and less necessary in daily life, heck even yard sales will take some kind of electronic payment.

Not sure I'd be all that worried about getting robbed or whatever, but carrying $1000 or more in cash just seems like a bad idea. I have never had anyone complain about me taking a bag or small backpack into a store. Heck, I have rolled my bike up and down the aisles of grocerry stores and walmarts and no one has said anything. So I have always been able to keep my bag with me and would have had no problem if I had carried a lot of cash.. Maybe I have just been lucky, or maybe I just have a harmless grandfatherly look.
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Old 09-23-21, 07:42 AM
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Always use cash, always

Always take cash with you.
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Old 09-23-21, 08:01 AM
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If you are strongly a cash-only type person, I guess you could have a spouse, relative, good friend, etc. send money to you every two to three weeks. Walmart, Western Union, MoneyGram, and others offer cash transfer services but the fees I think start at $6 & up and you may only be able to send a few hundred dollars. I am not overly familiar with them but have seen them even in smaller towns, i.e. I think Western Union can be sent to Dollar Generals which are in a lot of rural locations.

Like others, I use a combination of cash ($100-$300 always on hand with always some small denominations), debit cards (Schwab Bank does not charge ATM fees for anywhere in the world and will reimburse you if you are charged, regardless of amount or location), and credit cards. I also scatter cash in various places on my bike, i.e. wallet, handlebar bag, panniers, drop tube, etc. in case I lose my wallet or my bike is stolen, I hopefully have a few places with cash left over.

Have a great trip!
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Old 09-23-21, 08:04 AM
  #13  
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Donít carry $3K in cash.
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Old 09-23-21, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...
Some small businesses seem to greatly appreciate cash payment. ....
I just put in a new furnace and AC unit, total bill was over $12k. I told them that I could write a check if they gave a discount, otherwise would use a credit card. They said a credit card would be fine, no discount for cash. I got 1.5 percent back from that purchase on a rewards card. Small locally owned HVAC company, I expected them to prefer cash but they apparently see credit card fees as a normal cost of business.
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Old 09-23-21, 08:12 AM
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Comments by John N on money transfers made me think a bit. Some large national banks have branches in most states, you could have money in a checking or savings account and go to any local branch to get cash with your photo ID. Chase comes to mind as a bank with lots of branches. Bank of America might work too, but in my case they have no branches in my state. There is a US Bank branch a block from my condo.
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Old 09-23-21, 08:16 AM
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Cards are accepted everywhere you go. It would be silly to carry more than $100 cash.
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Old 09-23-21, 08:43 AM
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1. I do not see any benefit in carrying cash. Nowadays most places prefer contact-less payment (phone or NFC enabled card). If you lose your card you can get replacement; if you lose cash you're toast. As someone mentioned in this thread, many CCs give you cash back. CCs take little space in you wallet. CCs provide a detailed monthly statement.

2. I carry no more than $200. Some places (ex campings in remote areas) may not accept cards. When this happens, I take a picture as this is becoming quite an exceptional experience

3. I carry cards from more than 1 issuer (ex: 1 Visa, 1 MC) in case zealous security kills one. One in my wallet, and the other in some other place so I am unlikely to lose both at the same time. Actually, I have loaded several cards on my phone and don't remember the last time I've had to use a card to pay for a product/service.
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Old 09-23-21, 12:42 PM
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I wouldn't carry all that sum in cash, but instead expect to mostly rely on debit/credit cards.

I've had three occasions touring where my I had difficulty getting cash from a card, but those are not circumstances I anticipate arise easily in a tour across the US at present:

1. Way back in 1988 took a six week trip from Boston to Rochester MN. This was in early days of bank cards and networks. I had an ATM card on the Plus network, but that network wasn't everywhere yet. My partner accidentally threw away her wallet including our alternate credit/debit card when we were near London OT. We were fortunate to get back into the country (pre 9/11) with our word and a police report about a lost wallet.
a. We had some travelers checks that should have been OK with a signature, but there had just been a news story in Michigan about fake travelers checks so some were wary of taking them.
b. My plus card had a 1-800-THE-PLUS number you could call from a pay phone but unfortunately we didn't seem to be any nearby ATMs.
c. Eventually I got hold of my bank and they let me know the location of the *four* plus ATMs at that point in entire state of Wisconsin.
d. Eventually we had her parents send Western Union to place near Green Bay so we were able to pick up cash.

2. More recently in 2006, I took a ride through Ukraine and southern Russia.
a. I tried to do everything right and let my credit union know of travel plans so they wouldn't trigger a fraud alert.
b. Unfortunately, part way through Russia, my debit card seemed to stop working. When we got to our Russian destination, we checked with our host (who worked for a bank) and even his bank wouldn't let the transaction go through.
c. On the way back, flying through Frankfort, my debit card worked again.
d. Apparently, what happened is the bank had a breach of numbers - and the hackers had done this somewhere in Russia or eastern block. So rather than selectively turn off accounts, they turned off all transactions in Russia and selected countries.

3. Even more recently in 2017, I was going through Argentina. The ATMs there weren't always reliable in having cash available. So I might try more than one ATM and not have it work. I was able to take some clues from locals but as I was going through western parts between Mendoza and Bariloche, the towns & ATMs were spread out, so I had to really keep trying different ones along the way.

So what I've learned in all this is to (a) let me bank know of travel plans (b) still be on the lookout for fraud alerts which can trigger because of an unusual pattern and be prepared to get back in tough with the bank (c) carry more than one debit card from different banks.

Most of that is more geared towards travel overseas in countries where I might not be on the same time zone or where my bank might be more likely to trigger alerts. I don't expect as much of it in a trip across the US. So I would bring a little extra cash, but I certainly wouldn't carry enough for the entire trip as I would expect to either pay with a debit card or pull money out along the way.
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Old 09-23-21, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Credit cards offer more consumer protection than debit cards, thus I only use debit card in ATM or on VERY rare occasion at a store that will accept debit but not credit cards.
That is what I've heard, but there also seems to be some consumer protection on debit cards.

I have set limits on my cards so that I get an E-Mail every time my cards are used. I haven't used the credit card for a while, but usually I get the ping on the debit card sent to my cell phone before I even get out of the store.

I've had the report for using the Visa credit card delayed a couple of days which I find anoying.
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Old 09-23-21, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
That is what I've heard, but there also seems to be some consumer protection on debit cards.
Be careful. Although it depends on the jurisdiction, for credit cards the dominant doctrine is that the merchant is responsible for fraudulent uses unless he can show the customer's signature on the receipt. Needless to say, most fraudulent uses are borne by merchants. For debit cards, there are cases where the card holder may be held responsible, if the issuer can show that the user has disclosed his/her PIN. Things are evolving and I am not current on jurisprudence, but there was a time when there was a genuine risk to the user. See here for instance, where it says that banks cannot charge a customer for fraudulent usage once it has been notified.

In practice, in Quebec (where I live and am a little more current on these questions), I am not aware of cases where the customer is left holding the bag in cases of debit fraud. There are a few instances where fraudulent usage has been demonstrated, and others where gross negligence appears to have lead to out-of-court settlements, but as a rule, if there's something wrong in your statement, you are presumed innocent and the withdrawals will be reversed.
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Old 09-24-21, 06:45 AM
  #21  
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Start with $200 in cash. Use a credit card where possible, carry a debit card back-up. Start to think about replenishing cash from debit card cash-back when it gets below $100. That's easy to do at large groceries and the post office. Avoid ATM fees. Or get a bank account that will cover ATM fees.

Once in a great while it's good to have $100 cash. One trip, a major storm wiped out comm lines in a small town and nobody could process credit cards. A nice hotel, normally over $100/night, offered a room for $50 cash.
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Old 09-24-21, 07:26 AM
  #22  
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Tihab, why are you hesitant in using cards and or simply taking out cash in reasonable amounts regularly?
I don't quite understand, it's easy to take out a few hundred every so often and use cards for many occasions.
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Old 09-24-21, 12:43 PM
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that's of course a big problem ....
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Old 09-24-21, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I do not see any benefit in carrying cash.
Try having your credit cards all hacked before a tour and the replacements aren't going to show up in time. It happened to me last month. Cash was the only way I was able to get through first half of the week until my replacements could be driven down to me. I wouldn't / didn't carry $3k, but I had probably $600 squirreled away in various places on the bike. I was shocked at how easy it was to hide all that money!
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Old 09-24-21, 04:33 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by a_d_a_m View Post
Try having your credit cards all hacked before a tour and the replacements aren't going to show up in time. It happened to me last month. Cash was the only way I was able to get through first half of the week until my replacements could be driven down to me. I wouldn't / didn't carry $3k, but I had probably $600 squirreled away in various places on the bike. I was shocked at how easy it was to hide all that money!
No one at home to wire you some money? Wouldn't be too big of a deal for me to have someone wire me an amount that would cover my trip at this point in my life. That wasn't always the case though, so I know not everyone has the available funds and someone to do that.
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