Credit Cards The Basics

Travel Tip: Do Not Pay with Credit Card on the Street!

southwest companion pass for 2017
Written by Charlie

Sometimes, we get hooked into paying for everything with credit card. It is easier & often safer. But, be careful about using the credit card on the street! This story is a warning!


I know – in the age of cashless transactions and easy peer-to-peer payments, it is much easier to just forget the cash and swipe the card. But, even though you may miss the points, do not always be so quick to pay with your credit card on the street! In some situations, it can be a hassle at the and/or a money-losing moment. While I realize most of us would not do this, it is becoming more familiar and commonplace and you should be careful!

Travel Tip: Do Not Pay with Credit Card on the Street

I saw this story a couple of weeks ago and being sick last week really took it out of me and I did not get to some of the posts I had planned to do. Here was the story of what happened:

Ripped-Off Tourist

A couple of weeks ago, in Times Square, one of the dressed-up characters took a photo with a tourist from Tennessee. This particular character was dressed-up as Mickey Mouse and, as they do, took a tip from this tourist. However, the tip was handled via Square using the tourist’s credit card. Apparently, the tourist had agreed to pay $190 for the photo with Mickey Mouse (reminder to self: pack Mickey Mouse costume on next visit to NYC). But, instead of charging just the $190, the Mickey Mouse character charged the man’s credit card for $310. Mickey was arrested and charged with petty larceny.

First of all, wouldn’t “Mickey” have thought that he already had a pretty good thing with a man willing to pay him $190 and not press it to steal an additional $120 from the tourist?

Using Credit Cards on the Street

But, anyway, this is something I have seen more and more – people feeling more comfortable to pay with their credit cards on the street. I am not talking about at shops but with people in places that it may be more safe using cash with. This even applies to foreign countries. I have had people try selling me camel rides with shouts that “we take credit card!” I have also seen people hand their credit card over in outdoor markets only to watch the vendor walk away to a shop down the aisle to use a credit machine.

Yes, I like credit card points as much as the next person but, please, be careful about using your credit card on the street! We have great protections by the card issuers if something does go wrong but if you are on a trip and your credit card has been compromised, the last thing you want is to have that card killed and unusable throughout the rest of your trip. Play it safe and use cash.

Upside to Using Cash

Plus, there is one more upside about using cash – you have a limit! There are many times that people try to bargain with me when I am looking at something and the phrase “we take credit card” is always used as a way to try and sway me to pay. Vendors realize that tourists may carry limited cash and trying to encourage the tourist to use credit card is a nice way to take away the bargaining aspect of the shopping experience since you do not simply hold out some cash in an effort to bargain. They know if you are willing to pay with credit card, you will likely pay more than you would if you were paying with cash.

Have you seen people using credit cards for purchases on the street, direct from individuals?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.