Money Matters

Money Matters

Grand Central Terminal, NYC

Travel Money USA Advice

The US currency is the US dollar. Cash machines (ATMs) are plentiful and UK credit and debit cards are widely accepted. However, this can be an expensive way to pay for things. Check the terms and conditions of your card issuer to see what their charges are, they soon add up. You may also need to advise your card issuer that you will be using your card abroad to prevent it being blocked as part of anti-fraud measures.

It can be easier and much more cost effective to buy a pre-paid currency card from a provider such as my Travel Cash or Travelex . Both these companies offer home delivery for all cards. You can either buy a single currency (e.g. US $) or a multi currency card if you are going to take several trips. Cards can be topped up online.

We have found these cards particularly useful if we are trying to stick to a budget, as it is easy to track all your spending on the one card. You can check the balance online and you can set up SMS alerts if you wish. These cards also lock in an exchange rate. If the rate gets worse between buying the card and travelling this can save a lot of money, but conversely, if it improves you won’t see the upside. It does however make for easy budgeting.

  • 1% cashback on all purchases
  • No ATM fees from the card issuer abroad (some ATMs have their own charges)
  • 24/7 Customer Services
  • Chip & PIN protection
  • Express delivery in 1-3 working days or 5-10 day standard delivery


  • Chip and PIN protected
  • 24/7 Global Emergency Assistance service
  • No risk of identity theft and fraud to your personal bank account
  • Free ATM withdrawals from the card issuer (some ATMs have their own charges



If you are considering travellers cheques, our advice is don’t bother. We find the currency cards are easier to use than travellers cheques which in our view are somewhat redundant in the US.

We tend not to bother ordering any US$ before we travel, but head to the nearest ATM at the airport on arrival and withdraw cash. This has on occasion tripped us up – it took us what felt like eternity to track down an ATM in Miami Airport the first time we landed there and we wanted cash to pay for our taxi. It is probably wise to learn from our mistake and take a supply of US$ with you. Do not head for the foreign exchange bureaux at the airport, this is a really good way to overpay!

my Travel Cash have a great service where you can pre-order your currency online and have it delivered to your house.

Travelex also offer a great order online with a home delivery service, but you can opt to collect your currency from their in airport shop. This can be very handy if you don’t want to wait in for a delivery.


Our final tip for dealing with money in the US is that it is useful to keep a good stock of small denomination notes handy – $1 and $5 for tips for valet parking, bell hops, housekeeping and all manner of other service providers. Quarters are also good to keep a stock of for feeding parking meters and vending machines.