Traveling through a few different countries presents a few problems, one of those is what to do about taking money. In Southeast Asia we are traveling through eight different countries, meaning there are eight different currencies and conversion rates to deal with. Understandably we were unwilling to take either large amounts of cash or using our UK bank cards with the charges that would incur. Instead we opted for a cash flex card from STA travel. It’s not an ideal option, but for going to as many places as we are it seemed to be the best there was!
The card cost us £24 each and came preloaded with £10. It’s backed by MasterCard so can be used basically anywhere, and although it charges for ATM withdrawals, card transactions are apparently free. We were then able to top up a convenient amount and given access to an online account where we could check the balance of the card as well get details to transfer money into the card from any bank account. The card works by keeping the cash that is preloaded in sterling and then coverts it with the most up to date exchange rate (sadly not the greatest rate but you do get to bypass a lot of charges this way). We thought that with sterling being so changeable at the moment (thanks brexit) that it would be in our interest to let the rates vary and hopefully improve.
Having looked a little more into the card you can actually get salaries paid into it and can also get it instantly topped up from an STA branch in the UK. All in all its a way easier way to travel through several countries without worrying about huge bank charges or leftover currency.