Travelling without Credit Card

Hi All,

There are a stack of forum topics on the best Credit Cards for traveling however I haven't seen any mention on here on anyone's experience traveling without a credit card. I am taking my 11 year old son to the USA for 3 weeks and I don't have a credit card and I am wondering if I will have a problem hiring a car, if I need to go 100% airbnb or if there are any other problems I may encounter traveling without a credit card.

Thanks in advance :)



    As long as you take with you a Debit Mastercard or VISA and have money in the account it’ll achieve the same outcome.

    There are a few few free transactions accounts out there with no international transaction fees eg ING

  • +2 votes

    No problem, America is pretty backward so cash is still king.

    • +1 vote

      And they love checks, (as they spell it).

  • +2 votes

    Id encourage you to use a debit card. It's safer than cash. And even if you plan on using cash, you should have a debit card as backup at least as you never know when you might need it.

    Go with either Macquarie or ING transaction accounts. They have MasterCard and Visa debit cards respectively so will be accepted worldwide. Neither have foreign currency conversion fee as well, however ING has more requirements (and need to wait till the following month to get the benefit) but it also rebates the overseas ATM's fee which Macquarie does not. Most importantly inform the bank of your overseas travel dates and know the bank's overseas support number in case you get scammed/skimmed/stolen etc. If something like that happens it can be scarier as it's your money (and not the banks, as in the case of a credit card) that is stolen. But the cards are backed by reputable banks which will replace the stolen funds as long as you inform them straight away. If cash gets stolen you won't get it back. Good luck. Enjoy your trip.

  • +6 votes

    Hotels, hire cars will each take a bond/deposit and lock up that money. Isn't an issue with a credit card if it's within your credit limit because the balance is returned and it doesn't affect future purchasing… But with a debit card you won't be able to use that money until the bond/deposits are returned.


    On my last two trips (2 and 4 weeks) I only used my Citibank debit card. I had a backup debit and credit card with me (neither were good for international transactions), but I didn't have to use them once.


    I primarily use Citibank Plus debit card - no international transaction fees. However, for hotel bonds/deposit I often use a credit card so it doesn't lock up my funds.

  • +2 votes

    When do you leave ? I’d be trying to get a credit card to use for car hire and hotels.

    Do you at least have a debit card with plenty of money ?

    Hotels will put a $250 bond on your debit card and it might take 2-3 days to be refunded.


      I'm trying to avoid a credit card if I can but if I have to then I will get one. I don't have a problem putting a bond down for hotel/car. Am I able to leave cash as a bond so I can take it when I leave?


        Probably not. Part of the reason for CC is so they can charge more than the bond if required. (It'll be in the t+cs you sign when you check in).

        Also if you did use cash once you hit your last hotel you'd be refunded in now useless USD.

        That being said, not all accomodations charge a bond, so maybe check this when booking?

        I'd go and sort out a Citibank account now and as a backup, any credit card with no account keeping fees, to use only if the shit hits the fan.


        No you often can’t use cash. Eg should you crash the hire car they’ll take the cost off your card.

        Why are you trying to avoid a credit card?

        A lot of the US uses card now. I’d try and avoid cash at all costs.

        Get one of the anz ones. The fees aren’t that high for o/s use and you’ll get enough FF points for your next trip. Or for a parents trip away.

        After a year you can cancel it. After the trip, put it in a draw and put a reminder to cancel it in your phone calendar.

        Another reason for a credit card is emergency use, if shit hits the fan and you need to get back to Australia. You’d book something on your card and claim it back on travel insurance.

        What were you going to use for paying?

        @jjjaar I’ve never stayed in a hotel where they didn’t put a bond on my card for the mini bar etc.

  • +4 votes

    Not having a credit card is manageable so long as you have Visa/MC debit as others have mentioned, but also this is not without its hassles.

    To approach this from another angle though, having a credit card provides you with another tool should you get stuck with something. Let's just imagine that for some reason your debit card gets lost/stolen/cancelled … what do you do then? Obviously you would have another debit card with another bank but you may not have the cash in the second account … you could be looking at several days without access to cash while waiting for it to transfer.

    A credit card (while not a silver bullet as it too can get lost/stolen/cancelled, etc.) gives you another option should something go wrong. You want to enjoy your holiday, not be worried about cashflow, locked funds and banking cycles.

  • +1 vote

    You'll certainly get by with a MC / Visa debit card, however, if the option is available to you I'd also get a credit card. It may offer you more flexibility with managing cash flow or if you do come across some place that doesn't accept debit cards. Also if you end up with a legit emergency on your hands the access to additional funds may be very helpful.

    Having at least 2 different cards from different providers can also help avoid the situation where for whatever reason a bank puts a hold on your card (i.e because it's all of a sudden making all these OS transactions - despite you telling them where you were going) and then you can't purchase what you need until you sort it out with the bank.


      I have organised a second Orange account with ING so I will have 2 cards in the event I lose one. I fill their requirements for fee free overseas transactions and I like that they use the VISA wholesale USD rate.


    I've had my cards, once a debit card, and the second time a credit card skimmed during travel to the US. Most of the terminals there does not have chip readers and rely on the magnetic strip and signing. Therefore, it's kind of easy to skim the strip. In the case of the credit card, I just reported the card and then sent me a new emergency card to my hotel in 2 days. Though the 1000+ amount was missing from my account during dispute resolution period of 3 weeks, I didn't really bother as they told me I don't have to settle it with the statement.

    But in the case of the debit card, my actual money was blocked for 3 weeks until they resolved the case. No emergency card replacement as it wasn't a platinum debit card. I had to use a backup card I had during this time. I'm glad I had enough money in my account to compensate for the blocked amount.

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