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Travel smart: avoid fees when paying abroad

You have accommodation, transportation, and even excursions booked, but have you considered local expenses? Have you checked if your cruise is truly all-inclusive? Many times, we budget our trip without taking into account important factors such as currency exchange or the tipping culture at our destination. In this article, I bring you a small guide with important concepts to know if you are traveling abroad, as well as the trick I learned from experienced travelers to avoid excessive fees when making payments in local currencies*.

Price + Tax + Tips

In Spain, as well as in most of the Eurozone, we are used to paying the price we see on the label, menu, or website. However, in many other places, this is not the case. The clearest example is the United States, where the price displayed is for the product without taxes. This is because the tax rate varies in each state, but it doesn't end there. When it comes to services, you also need to add a practically obligatory tip due to the culture, and it must also be a fairly high minimum. All of this means that what you end up paying for something is not what you initially saw. And this also applies to other places like the United Kingdom. Let's look at an example:

You see a dish on the menu for $20. Adding an 8% tax, you end up paying $21.60, and adding an 18% tip (for good service), it would cost you a total of $25.49. And if instead of $20, it's $200, you would pay an extra €54.90. If you also add fees for paying in a currency other than your own, the result is too much.


A good way to control all of this is to inform yourself about how your destination works. Additionally, it's an excellent idea to have a currency conversion app on your phone and a tip calculator if necessary. You can easily find them on the App Store, Play Store, or your mobile system's app store.

If you have an iPhone, you can directly ask Siri or perform a search on the main screen's Search bar, and you'll have the result instantly.

Sky-High Fees

I will always remember my first experience in New York, taking a taxi from the airport to Manhattan. They advertised $40. Not bad, right? Well, after adding tolls, taxes, and tips, the $40 turned into $80. And when I paid with my regular bank, they charged me almost €10 in transaction fees. Wow. At that moment, I knew it was not going to happen again, at least not paying such an exorbitant price for a simple bank transaction.

In New York, I had to calculate everything to get the real price

Revolut: The Trick of Experienced Travelers

The first time I heard about Revolut, it was already associated with being an ideal card for travelers. Essentially, Revolut is an application where you can easily register and get a free account with many advantages, a user-friendly interface, and numerous options for its use. With Revolut, you can set up savings plans, invest in the stock market, or even buy those infamous cryptocurrencies. However, in this post, we will focus on the benefits for travelers.


I use Revolut as a virtual wallet, which means I add the money I want to spend at any given moment. To do this, you can easily add funds with Apple Pay if you have an iPhone or with other methods like direct bank transfers. It's immediate and doesn't cost anything. Once you have a balance in your account, you simply make payments with a Revolut card. This can be done with your mobile phone or watch directly (using Apple Pay or a similar service), by requesting a physical card (they send it to your home within a few days), or by making online purchases with the card numbers they provide. And that's it. It's super simple and free to use. In this case, when paying in another currency, Revolut will automatically perform the currency conversion and charge you the minimum fees (just a few cents).

Another advantage of Revolut is that you can easily create multiple cards, and you can even generate single-use cards for online purchases. Additionally, you can create vaults to save money by setting up recurring payments (for example, saving €10 every week) or rounding up purchases (if you pay €3.70, they'll charge you €4, and the extra €0.30 goes into your vault). This money is easily accessible, and you can deposit and withdraw as you wish, but it's a great way to save. In my case, I used the money I saved this way to go on a mini-cruise.

If you sign up through my referral link, you'll receive a gift of 3 months of the premium plan. This plan includes some paid benefits that you can take advantage of if you'd like and cancel the monthly payment afterward. In that case, set a reminder for 3 months to decide if you want to continue with the premium plan or switch to the free plan. Although, in general, I would say that it's not necessary to pay anything. The free plan provides more than enough for everything I do, and it's likely the same for you too.

Take note!

There are no more excuses. Knowing the payment methods when traveling will help you have a more accurate budget and avoid overspending in any context. Here are my final tips to keep in mind:

  • Research the local currency used in each of the destinations you plan to visit.

  • Inform yourself about taxes and tipping culture. While tipping is mandatory in places like the United States, it's considered offensive in countries like Japan.

  • Use a currency converter on your mobile device to keep track of your expenses and avoid confusion.

  • Sign up for Revolut for free and order your card in advance to be able to make payments in places that don't accept contactless payments.

  • Carry some cash. Not all places accept cards. With Revolut, you can also withdraw cash in other currencies from ATMs with no or very low fees.

*This post includes affiliate links.

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