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Do we still pay with cash abroad?


Hungarians predominantly pay by card when traveling abroad. Where do we travel, how long do we stay, and how much do we pay? We looked into these questions.


Visa’s study on travel and payment habits in 2022 shows that digitalization has permeated the tourism industry. 62% of Hungarians prefer using a bank card or host card emulation with their mobile phone or smartwatch. The pandemic has significantly impacted this attitude in recent years since online shopping and contactless payment became extremely popular then.

Hungarians favor longer holidays (more than three nights) abroad less than other regional nations, with only roughly one-third of Hungarians surveyed planning a long holiday. The figure is around 40% among Poles, Czechs, and Bulgarians, while half of Romanians and 62% of Slovenians plan to leave their country for a longer holiday.

Hungarians also do not tend to go on as many shorter holidays or weekend trips as their regional counterparts; not more than one-third of Hungarians plan to spend three days or less abroad. These short trips are more popular among Slovenians, 44% of whom are planning minibreaks. As countries lifted travel restrictions, shopping trips have become possible again. 15 percent of Hungarians go abroad for this purpose, the most popular destinations being Austria, Slovakia, and Croatia.

The top destinations for longer holidays in 2022 will be Croatia, Italy, and Greece; interestingly, Austria will not make it to the top three. However, Hungarians’ shorter holiday plans can satisfy the Austrian tourism sector as Vienna is the most popular minibreak destination, followed by Rome and Prague. Half of those planning a long holiday begin organizing their trips several months in advance, but 20% only start planning a month before. On average, shorter trips take less time to plan, with a third of respondents making plans only a month in advance and 16% leaving only a week or two to prepare.

Ede Kiss, Visa’s Country Manager for Hungary, said that they long believe that tourism is a key driver of the economy, which creates jobs, and promotes the understanding of different cultures. Their new travel and payment patterns survey reveals that Hungarians are returning to their pre-COVID habits this year. The revealed travel plans indicate a gradual rebuilding of Hungarian consumers’ trust and confidence which bodes well for the recovery of international tourism and cross-border payments.

A képhez tartozó alt jellemző üres; 0.jpg a fájlnév

Getting used to a different currency is an inevitable part of traveling, and obtaining some financial advice before a holiday is worth it. Hungarians value the convenience, speed, and security of bank cards, smartphones, and smartwatches, and almost two-thirds of them, 62%, choose digital payment methods over cash. This is the second-highest figure among the eight Central and Eastern European countries surveyed, with only Slovakia ahead of Hungary. Ede Kiss highlighted that they are pleased that Hungarians prefer to pay by cards or mobile devices when traveling abroad and emphasized the role of the innovative and reliable global Visa network, which ensures that everyone can pay quickly, conveniently, and securely in over 100 million locations in more than 200 countries.

Most Hungarians do not use a separate bank card for trips abroad. The 11% who do, explained that they feel that using a secondary card is safer, but more favorable exchange rates, the possibility to hold more currencies, and better control of their spending were also mentioned among the reasons.

Gone are the days when we have our spending money in cash; nowadays, only 15% brings that much cash abroad, which covers the entire holiday. By the way, this amount for one person per day is between €25 and €50, not including accommodation. Most often, we spend our money abroad at petrol stations, shopping centers, and restaurants, and around 70% of the transactions happen with digital payment.

Tamás Farkas, senior bankcard advisor at OTP bank, said that the volume of card transactions in the past five months significantly increased compared to the same period last year. The basket value of foreign purchases increased by 20%, and ATM usage abroad expanded by 30%. The expectation for the near future is continuously growing trends. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the devaluation of the Hungarian forint and the rise in inflation has also severely impacted these figures. Hungarians used their bank cards the most in Austria, Slovakia, and Germany, probably due to the ski season.

Furthermore, Farkas highlighted that digital payments by bank cards or mobile phones are the most convenient options when purchasing abroad. Most countries already have a widespread digital payment system. Before leaving home, it is worth checking the current policies of the bank issuing the card for purchases and withdrawals abroad, as there may be more favorable rates for withdrawing cash if we use ATMs operated by our bank group. It also matters to our wallet at what rate our bank charges us for using the card abroad to pay.

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