12 Things to Know When Flying with Cash (2023)

Are you traveling to another country with cash? If yes, there are some important things you need to know before flying with cash. Keep reading this article to learn more.

Ready to travel abroad for a vacation? Great! But one thing everyone needs to take care of is their safety and convenience when flying with cash.

It’s often one of the things that people tend to overlook amongst the excitement. As a result,it can sometimes end up ruining their vacation or at least prove to be highly inconvenient.

So in this post, we’ll share some of our handy tips for travelers who are flying with money.

  • Can you fly with cash?
  • If so, how do you stay safe?
  • How can you make your trip as convenient as possible when flying with cash?

We’ll discuss all of this in detail with our nifty tips. Read on!

Taking a Trip with Cash – Top Tips

12 Things to Know When Flying with Cash (1)

Without further ado, let’s talk about how flying with money and having an enjoyable trip is possible:

Know When to Travel with Cash

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Flying with cash can either prove convenient or become a nuisance, depending on the country you’re traveling to. So it’s important to do some research about how people deal with transactions at your destination.

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted in most countries in Europe and Asia. Here, you’re unlikely to face trouble just because you don’t have some cash in the region’s local currency, as most restaurants and hotels will accept credit card payments.

So you don’t necessarily have to bring money with you on a trip to these places. However, you can only go so far without cash, even in some of the most developed cities. Not all transportation types accept cards, and certain vendors and shops won’t offer this facility either.

So always keep some cash on hand in foreign currency, even if you plan to rely mostly on cards. Some European countries also accept US dollars as a second currency, so stuffing some green bucks into your wallet just before heading out can prove useful.

However, there will be times when flying with cash will be your best bet. Cards and automated transactions are still not widely popular in some Asian countries. For example, some regions in China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, etc., have cash-only shops and restaurants.

Also, if you’re planning to travel to remote places or small towns and villages, don’t expect to survive on plastic. For example, even though cards are widely used in Italy, you will have to use cash if you plan on spending your days in some of its far-off towns and beaches.

Know Airport/Custom Rules

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Okay, so you’ve decided to travel with some cash. But what is the cash limit to carry on an international flight? Answer: As much as you want. Really.

No one cares how much money you’re bringing into or out of a country – you’ll just have to assure the authorities it’s not related to any criminal activity by filling in a few forms.

If you’re carrying an amount below $10,000 from the US to elsewhere in the world, you don’t have to worry about anything.

However, the government wants to know if you’re carrying anything above that limit. Hence, you’ll have to fill out some forms at customs to declare that sort of money, and you’re good to go.

Also, when flying with cash internationally, do some research about the policies of your destination. Most European countries want you to declare anything above 10,000 euros at customs. On the other hand, some countries like Ukraine require people to declare every penny they bring into the country – whether it’s a million or a couple of bucks.

When flying with cash domestically, there’s not much you’ll have to stress about. Within the US, you can travel with as much money as you want. However, if you’re carrying an unusually large sum of money, you might have to explain yourself as TSA inspect you and your luggage.

Keep a Moderate Amount of Money

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While you’re planning your vacation, decide how much cash you’ll be needing. Will you require a lot of it? How much can you rely on cards at your destination? Your answers will, once again, depend on how that country deals with transactions.

However, as a general rule of thumb, it’s always smart to travel with moderate amounts of money. Don’t carry more than you can handle, particularly in countries where you can easily use your cards.

You’ll only put yourself in a situation where you’ll be constantly paranoid about someone stealing such a huge sum of money. On the other hand, make sure you have enough to survive for a couple of days before going to exchange your money for foreign currency.

This is because it’s not always convenient to head out to exchange booths or ATMs upon arrival – give yourself a day or two to get your bearings.

But if you’re sure you’re going to require a good amount of cash on your trip, the section below has various tips to help you keep it safe.

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Know When and Where to Exchange Money

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Deciding what amount to carry isn’t the only thing to worry about when flying with cash, though. Should you exchange your money for foreign currency at home? Or do you do that at the destination’s airport?

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To answer the first question, we recommend exchanging into foreign currency once you reach your destination. This way, you will most probably get better exchange rates.

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For instance, you’ll get a lot in return for exchanging US dollars in Dubai, Malaysia, etc. (they will charge a fee for exchanging the money for you, though).

However, it’s wise to exchange a small amount at home, so you don’t have to worry about such stuff immediately upon arrival. Also, airports are the worst places for exchanging money as they charge you a huge fee and offer bad rates.

Use what you have to pay for a cab ride to your hotel or the nearest exchange booth, which offer better rates.

Inform Your Bank About Your Plans

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If you’re planning on using cash throughout your trip, you’ll probably have to use an ATM to withdraw more of it at one point or the other. And when you do that in a foreign country, your account is almost certainly going to shut down as soon as you make your first transaction.

Today’s anti-fraud systems are quick to detect when you’re using your card abroad and shut down your account for your protection.

Hence, it’s essential to inform your bank about your plans to avoid going through stressful calls and procedures on your vacation. Even if you’re traveling domestically, it’s a good idea to let the people at your bank know about your trip.

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Keep Different Denominations

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Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, always keep various small and big bills in your wallet. This is because sometimes it can get tricky to obtain a change for a large bill, especially in a foreign place where you’re not really sure about stuff.

Smaller bills can also come in handy when purchasing some food at an airport or a souvenir while traveling through the city. Using them will also ensure you’re not left with a lot of leftover bills and coins once you’re done with a trip.

Moreover, having a variety of denominations can help keep your money safe. You can use the small bills in your wallet for purchasing stuff without reaching for the big bucks, which are more likely to attract attention.

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Safety Tips for Flying with Cash

Flying and traveling with cash on you isn’t always the safest option. Pickpockets are present everywhere in the world, with some countries having a higher percentage of street crimes. Here are our tips to help you stay safe:

Use a Money Belt

One age-old way of carrying money in unfamiliar territory is to use a money belt. This is a discreet bag that you wrap around your torso, just like you would wear a belt.

Your shirt often goes over this belt, so it’s completely hidden from everyone.

12 Things to Know When Flying with Cash (9)

Stuff your big bills and plastic into this little bag but make sure you don’t use it in public. If you want to take out some money, try using a washroom or any other place where there aren’t too many people around.

Keep a Secondary Wallet

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Using a money belt doesn’t mean you always have to find a safe place to take out cash. Instead, use a secondary wallet to store small bills that are enough to pay for rides, buy street food, and such.

This wallet will act like a dummy wallet that you can use freely in public, as it doesn’t hold anything of great value.

However, try buying a minimalistic and low-profile wallet that won’t attract attention – anything too sparkly or bright. You don’t want pickpockets to steal even the dummy wallet or you’ll be paranoid for the rest of the tour.

Use an Anti-theft Bag

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Consider buying an anti-theft bag if you’re flying with a considerable sum of money, cards, and other valuables. These anti-theft bags come with lockable zippers, and hidden compartments and are made with anti-slash materials.

Other bags have hidden zippers that are tucked away at the back so no one can unzip them from behind. No matter what kind of bag you choose, just make sure the zippers are secure in one way or the other.

Divide the Money

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Whenever you’re flying with a lot of cash, always split your money and store it in different places instead of keeping it all in one place. The latter might be the more manageable option, but you can never be too safe, even on a flight.

Stash some money in your lockable backpack, with some stored in your wallet, and other bills in your luggage. Our favorite way is to stuff some big bills inside your shoe – try pickpocketing that!

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This way, even if one or the other thing gets stolen, you’ll still have some money saved in other places.

Consider Pickpocket-proof Clothing

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Arguably, the safest place to store your money is, well, on yourself. Travel-friendly clothing with hidden pockets and secret compartments can offer some sense of security when you’re on the go.

For instance, tons of travel-friendly bras have hidden compartments sewn inside and on the sides. You could also go for hoodies or shorts that are pickpocket-proof, like Clothing Art’s travel shorts.

Stay Attentive

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This might be a no-brainer rule, but it’s easy to get distracted when you’re on a flight or somewhere abroad. Don’t fall asleep without tucking away your backpack somewhere safe when you’re on the plane. Also, stay attentive and cautious when you’re on the streets with lots of cash on you.

There’s no need to become paranoid – just make sure you don’t flash your wallets or bucks when you’re in crowds.

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Final Thoughts

The takeaway? Flying money across continents isn’t safe all the time, but it’s possible to take a trip with cash and enjoy your days at the same time. There are just some things you need to take care of, and you’re good to go.

A bit of research before you leave will be a life-saver and prevent any mishaps and inconveniences. How much cash can you fly without the hassles of custom forms? How much do you really need? Do you have anti-theft clothing and luggage?

And to be on the safe side, keep your cards with you when you’re traveling abroad. So in case you do happen to lose most of your cash, you can always withdraw more using your debit card or rely on the credit card for the time being.

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FAQs

Is there a rule about flying with cash? ›

No, you can bring any amount of money to the airport. It is not illegal to fly with a large amount of cash on a flight. However, if you are traveling on an international flight and have more than $10,000 in your possession, then you must disclose the amount of U.S. Currency in your possession on a FinCEN 105 form.

What is the safest way to carry cash on a plane? ›

If you have to take cash, keep it in a carry on bag. Never put your cash, financial instruments, or precious metals in a checked bag. Keep your cash and other valuables out of public view. Keep your baggage and belongings in sight when passing through a security checkpoint.

How much cash are you legally allowed to fly with? ›

When flying domestically within the USA, there is no limit to the amount of cash that you can carry or have to declare. However, if you are found flying with large amounts of cash or money, TSA officers may question you as to why you have it and details of your trip.

Does TSA look for cash? ›

If you are on a domestic flight in the US, there is no limit to the amount of cash or monetary instruments that you can carry. However, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) security officers at the passenger screening area may ask a passenger who is carrying a large sum of cash to account for the money.

Can I fly with 10k cash? ›

To summarize up front: no, you are not restricted to traveling with sums of $10,000 or less. In fact, you could travel with a checked bag stuffed to the brim with cash — as long as you declare the amount beforehand.

Can I fly with 100k cash? ›

Traveling with Cash

There is no law against that as far as domestic flights are concerned. If you're flying internationally with more than $10,000, you'll have to declare the amount to customs. Other than that, assuming customs approves your luggage, you can carry as much cash as you want.

Are money belts safe from pickpockets? ›

You can use money belts to store your money, passport, and document copies while traveling. Although thieves know all about these belts, it's extremely unlikely that they're going to try to undress you to get at your stashed cash if you've got it zipped into a physical belt. The cloth pouches are a different story.

How should I travel with cash? ›

7 Safe Ways to Carry Money When Traveling
  1. Divide Your Money. Whenever possible, we suggest you divide your cash and credit cards into multiple safe spots so that a potential thief can't wipe you out at once. ...
  2. On-Body Storage. ...
  3. Theft-Proof Bag. ...
  4. Clean out Your Belongings. ...
  5. Dummy Wallet. ...
  6. Lock Valuables Away. ...
  7. Plan Accordingly.
Jul 23, 2019

How do I declare cash when traveling? ›

You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Use the online Fincen 105 currency reporting site or ask a CBP officer for the paper copy of the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105).

Is $10000 cash limit per person or family? ›

Please note that the $10,000 limit is not per person. If you are traveling with family members and the total amount of money between you and your family members is more than $10,000, it must be reported to customs.

How much cash can you keep at home? ›

You obviously will have a risk of it being stolen, but don't have a limit of how much you can have in cash in your house.” “However, you have to declare it, it can not be illegal money, it can not be hot money, your taxes must be paid and up-to date, you have to declare all income.”

What triggers a TSA bag check? ›

TSA counts on the traveling public to report unattended bags or packages; individuals in possession of a threatening item; and persons trying to enter a restricted area or similar suspicious activities at airports, train stations, bus stops and ports. If You See Something, Say Something™.

Does TSA check your pockets? ›

Unless you have TSA PreCheck, you will have to remove various items, such as liquids and electronics, from your luggage and place them in separate bins before going through security. You will also have to remove your shoes, items from pockets, jewelry, and large jackets.

What can airport scanners see in luggage? ›

They can detect both metallic and non-metallic objects, ranging from guns to foods and plastics. Some airports no longer use backscatter scanners because they're considered a privacy invasion, but they remain in use at major US, UK, and European airports.

Is it illegal to have too much cash? ›

Having large amounts of cash is not illegal, but it can easily lead to trouble. Law enforcement officers can seize the cash and try to keep it by filing a forfeiture action, claiming that the cash is proceeds of illegal activity.

Can you cash 50000 in flight? ›

In case of domestic flights, there is no specific limit for carrying cash but one needs to provide substantial documentary evidence to confirm the source of the cash as well as the purpose for carrying the cash.

What happens when you declare over $10 000? ›

When you declare over $10,000 at U.S. Customs, you'll need to file a FinCEN Form 105 prior to entering or leaving the country.

Can I travel with 1 million in cash? ›

Monetary instruments include, but are not limited to, stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques and traveller's cheques. There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can bring into or take out of Canada, nor is it illegal to do so.

How can I avoid traveling with cash? ›

5 Tips to Travel Safely With Money
  1. Inform your bank and credit card companies before you leave. ...
  2. Carry a minimal and smart wallet. ...
  3. Separate your money and keep some of it secure. ...
  4. Use a money belt. ...
  5. Use a credit card for purchases, not a debit card.
Mar 31, 2015

How do I declare cash at the airport? ›

You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Use the online Fincen 105 currency reporting site or ask a CBP officer for the paper copy of the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105).

What is considered a large amount of cash? ›

Does a Bank Report Large Cash Deposits? Depositing a big amount of cash that is $10,000 or more means your bank or credit union will report it to the federal government. The $10,000 threshold was created as part of the Bank Secrecy Act, passed by Congress in 1970, and adjusted with the Patriot Act in 2002.

How much cash can you keep at home legally in US? ›

It is legal for you to store large amounts of cash at home so long that the source of the money has been declared on your tax returns. There is no limit to the amount of cash, silver and gold a person can keep in their home, the important thing is properly securing it.

Is it unsafe to travel with cash? ›

Even though it is technically not illegal to travel with large amounts of cash, it is definitely suspicious to many law enforcement officers. Carrying a large amount of cash can result in asset forfeiture and seizure, even if you are not arrested for an offense.

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