It is possible to travel without a credit card, here are your options


This item is reprinted with permission from Nerdwallet.

Do you need a credit card to travel? Not exactly. While the card’s built-in benefits, like purchase protection and the ability to dispute a charge, make using a credit card the easiest and most secure way to pay for travel. Not everyone wants to get a credit card – or can’t be approved for one. And yet, these people will probably still want to travel at some point.

If you fall into this category, you have a number of other payment options to choose from, depending on the type of trip you want to book. Here’s how to pay for a trip without credit card.

Ways to finance a trip without a credit card

1. Use a debit card

You can use a debit card connected to your current account pay for various travel bookings. When purchasing a flight with a debit card, simply enter your debit card details in the credit card section. Be aware that if the money is not automatically debited from your account at the time of purchase, the airline may suspend the amount of the ticket until the purchase of the flight is settled. Funds held in your bank account cannot be used to make other purchases.

If you put your hotel or car rental reservation on your debit card, the hotel or rental car company may place a larger hold on your card than the cost of the reservation to protect against any accidents. . For example, at Marriott MAR,
a charge may be made from your debit card for the full cost of the room plus taxes, applicable resort fees and a hold for incidentals (these daily charges may vary by location). The hold can remain on the card for up to five days after your departure. Make sure that you are comfortable with the hold that is placed on your card, because until the hold is released, that money in your bank account cannot be used for other purchases.

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2. Get a PayPal account

You can use PayPal PYPL,
+ 0.20%
to pay for your flight, hotel or car rental. PayPal is a money transfer company where you can link your bank account and make purchases online. Using PayPal as a method of purchase provides the security of paying for travel without entering your credit or debit card details with the airline or hotel.

3. Buy gift cards

Another way to pay for flights or hotels is to buy gift cards where they are sold. For example, many grocery stores sell specific gift cards for airlines and hotels, as well as Airbnb ABNB,
+ 0.48%
gift cards. You can buy these cards in cash or by debit, then use the gift cards to pay for your flight, hotel, or rental reservation when you’re ready.

4. Pay in cash

Although you cannot use cash to purchase an airline ticket online, many airlines will allow you to pay for your tickets in cash at some airports.

United Airlines UAL,
American Airlines AAL,
and LUV from Southwest Airlines,
The websites all mention that they accept cash as a form of payment at designated check-in counters at specific airports.

5. Look for various payment options

Depending on the airline or hotel you book with, additional payment options may be available. For example, Uplift, which lets you pay for your purchases using an installment loan option, is listed as a payment method on United and Southwest.

6. Open a bank account that waives ATM fees abroad

International travel without a credit card is also possible. If you plan to use your debit card to pay for travel or withdraw money while away from your local bank, it is recommended that you open a bank account that waives ATM fees abroad. If you have a bank account that doesn’t waive ATM fees, you can end up paying two sets of fees:

  • Your bank may charge you for withdrawing cash from another bank’s ATM.

  • The other bank’s ATM may charge an additional withdrawal fee itself.

There are several banks that waive ATM fees or waive a specific number of foreign ATM fees per month, so be sure to do your research when opening a bank account to avoid paying unnecessary fees.

An alternative: subscribe to a credit card with no annual fees that waives transaction fees abroad

If you’re planning to go overseas and don’t have a credit card because you don’t want to pay an annual fee, consider a card with no annual fee that removes the overseas transaction fees as well. Transaction fees abroad can be as high as 3%, which can add up quickly, especially if you are using your card abroad.

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While you might not get many travel-related benefits, such as free lounge access or extra points on specific bonus categories, you can still get a card that you can use for international travel. without paying a fee and having to worry about ATMs or local currency. .

If you want to try to travel without a credit card …

While using a credit card to pay for travel is more convenient and secure than using other methods, you still have various options that you can use to book your trip. PayPal, cash, gift cards, and debit cards all make it possible to pay for travel without a credit card.

If a debit card is your preferred method of payment, make sure you have a bank account that waives ATM fees to avoid paying additional fees. If you’re ready to get a credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee, consider a card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees that you can use for purchases abroad. You will have more protections than paying in cash, but you will not have to pay any fees.

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Elina Geller writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @elina_geller.

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