As the world collectively moves towards a cashless future, credit cards and contactless payments are all the rage. However, for experienced travelers that are used to converting their dollars into local currency, paying with cash is a habit that could be hard to break. To make matters worse, many countries popular with tourists are quickly moving to a cashless economy in 2023. Recently, men and women met in an online discussion to reveal the countries where it’s getting harder and harder to pay for things with cash.
There is plenty to do and experience when visiting Iceland. From catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights to exploring Reykjavik to indulging in one of the country’s many hot springs, Iceland is one of the most unforgettable places to visit! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your views), many travelers admit being shocked that the use of cash isn’t as widespread in Iceland as it once was.
As one of the leaders in the European technology space, it’s unsurprising that England is quickly evolving into a cashless society. And according to one man, it can be a very rude surprise! “I was in England last month, and most of the places we went to didn’t accept cash,” reveals one worldly traveler. “And if they did, they were not very friendly about it.”
Countless travelers report that China has shifted almost exclusively to contactless payments, notably AliPay. As China continues to move past its agrarian roots, they continue to make strides in the technology space — moving to a largely cashless economy will keep them at the forefront of tech innovation for the foreseeable future.
The last few years have been transformative for the economies of countless nations. The pandemic has made countries like Japan rethink their cash policies. “I traveled to Japan this April, and half the places I went to had a no-cash policy,” explains one man. I guess Covid finally got the country to realize how convenient credit cards are. A lot of the tourist areas still accept cash, though, especially when purchasing things with change. I think I used more change than actual bills.”
Consistently ranking among the top countries in citizen happiness, I think Sweden’s happiness is based on its recent push to a cashless economy! “Lots of stores and restaurants are ‘card only’ in Sweden,” reveals one resident. Smaller places tend not to take American Express cards, but grocery stores, hotels, and upscale restaurants usually will. I’ve got a 500 kronor note in my wallet that I withdrew from an ATM about two years ago and have yet to use.”
I was taken aback by two things when I visited Madrid earlier this year. First, I was stunned by the beauty of the Spanish architecture that surrounded me whenever I walked the streets. Secondly, I was consistently amazed that I never had to exchange local currency — most merchants and shops did not accept cash! Although I enjoyed this aspect of Spanish culture, it could be challenging for a cash-loving traveler to adjust to.
With many travelers revealing Norway has become exceedingly inexpensive to visit, it isn’t surprising that the country is on many people’s must-visit list in 2023 and beyond. While Norway — like many other European nations — is indeed moving to a cash-free society, it reportedly gives its residents and tourists plenty of warning thanks to an abundance of signage in its largest cities.
Scotland is yet another nation embracing a cashless future like its English neighbor. However, old-school travelers don’t have anything to worry about. Many of the country’s centuries-old bars and taverns still take cold, hard cash, ensuring that enjoying a pint of their favorite beer can still be done the old-fashioned way.
One of the most telling signs that a country has moved away from using cash is that you get openly mocked for paying with paper bills! “We used cash to pay for a round of drinks at a bar in Copenhagen, and the bartender held it up for the bar to see and said, ‘Look, somebody’s using cash!'” confesses one woman. “That’s when I realized that maybe I should’ve paid using my credit card.”
If you’re considering visiting Germany to experience the nightlife of Berlin or Oktoberfest, expect to pay primarily with a credit card. Using cash has fallen out of favor in many parts of Germany. Still, savvy travelers should already be prepared: Contactless payments and travel credit cards make it easy to navigate the transition away from paper bills.
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