Expert Advice on Travel Payments: Choosing Between Cash, Debit, or Credit Cards

Expert Advice on Travel Payments: Choosing Between Cash, Debit, or Credit Cards

In the past twelve months, a recent study by IndiaLends has illuminated a notable trend in credit card applications, signifying a strong inclination towards travel-focused cards. Surprisingly, almost half of all credit card applications during this period were for travel-centric options, with women constituting a noteworthy 52% of this demand. The demographic distribution of these applications in 2022 reveals that approximately 48% of requests for travel-based credit cards originated from individuals aged 24 to 35, while those aged 36 to 45 accounted for the remaining 52%. Geographically, the surge in applications is most prominent in major metropolitan areas, with Bengaluru leading at 30%, followed by New Delhi (26%), Mumbai (20%), and Hyderabad (12%).

On the IndiaLends platform, specific credit cards have emerged as favorites among travelers, including the Axis Bank Vistara credit card, American Express Platinum Travel card, and SBI ELITE card.

Despite the array of options available, the ongoing debate between cash, debit, credit, and travel-focused credit cards persists among most travelers. Gaurav Chopra, the Founder & CEO of IndiaLends, addresses this debate in an exclusive interview, shedding light on the optimal payment methods during international travel.

The latest IndiaLends travel report indicates a notable shift in the spending patterns of Indian travelers during international trips. Credit cards have gained popularity as the primary mode of payment, driven by their convenience, quick transaction capabilities, avoidance of carrying large sums of cash, and enhanced security features. This shift reflects an evolving financial landscape where travelers prioritize security, transparency, and rewards.

Among the most used credit cards for travelers are the Axis Bank Vistara credit card, American Express Platinum Travel card, and SBI ELITE credit card. These cards are preferred for their various benefits, including airline miles, travel rewards, lounge access, and other perks, making them attractive choices for frequent travelers seeking to maximize their travel-related advantages.

There has been a noticeable increase in demand for partner credit cards, such as the Vistara credit card. These cards can be practical choices for individuals who frequently use the associated airline or hotel chain. The benefits often include bonus miles and priority boarding, enhancing the overall travel experience and providing long-term cost savings. However, individuals are advised to assess their travel habits and spending patterns to ensure that the card’s rewards and perks align with their specific needs.

Addressing the legal aspects of carrying cash on international trips, Indian travelers should be aware that they cannot carry more than INR 25,000. However, this restriction does not apply to foreign currencies or other forms of payment. It is generally advisable to have a mix of both cash and cards. Carrying some cash proves useful for small expenses, emergencies, or situations where cards may not be accepted. However, relying solely on cash poses risks, such as theft or loss. Using cards, especially credit cards, offers convenience, security, and a documented record of expenses. Combining cash and cards provides flexibility and financial security during international travel.

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To safeguard against card skimmers and other credit/debit card fraud during international trips, travelers are urged to regularly monitor their card statements and set up transaction alerts to promptly detect suspicious activity. In the unfortunate event of lost or stolen cards, the immediate action should be to contact the bank, report the loss, and request card replacement. Having a backup payment method, such as a second card or cash stored securely separately from primary cards, ensures financial security during the trip.

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