Cashless Travel? It’s Easier Than You Think

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While debit cards and cash are the most popular ways to pay for goods and services in the USA, many people are starting to travel cashless. This is especially true outside of the United States. Some brick and mortar  businesses in Europe only accept digital payments and will refuse cash outright. While getting rid of cash for a whole region is a bit extreme, there are some great reasons for travelers to go cashless. With so many mobile payment alternatives and credit card providers, it’s easier than ever to get cashless car rental, accommodations, and goods.

What is Cashless Payment?

Cashless rental car payment

In short: any means of completing a transaction digitally is a cashless payment. This includes debit and credit cards, and any type of digital wallet on your phone. While many people are familiar with how credit cards work, paying with your phone might seem strange. Some stores have an additional reader on top of a standard payment system where people can pay with their phone. This is similar to the technology behind the chip in your credit card card. The chip has replaced the magnetic strip on the backside as the main way to communicate your card’s information to a payment processor. With a phone, instead of your information being stored on your card, it’s stored and verified through a secure application on your phone.

Should I Travel With Cash?

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While there are a few places that don’t accept cash at all, it’s not always the best option for travelers. If you’re going somewhere for an extended time, it would be unrealistic to bring all the money you’ll need  in cash. Carrying a lot of cash when going on vacation is also considered risky. Pickpockets make a very lucrative living on tourists purely because some people bring a lot of cash on vacation. By going cashless, you’ll cut down on the chance of theft or losing the money some other way. It also makes it easier to track your spending on a digital ledger or application.

What Regions Accept Cashless Payments?

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While many places accept cashless payments, regions with independent financial systems or underdeveloped economies may not. Going cashless in these regions may involve downloading a new local app that you can use temporarily. Here is a rundown of the regions where it’s easiest to go cashless for car rental and other goods and services.

North America

If you’re traveling in the United States of Canada, almost every store will have some sort of cashless payment option. Debit and credit cards are the most popular method. It’s somewhat unusual for stores to accept payments from purely digital wallets like Venmo or Paypal. Contactless phone payments have been rolled out in major cities but are harder to find in rural areas.


Leading the charge on contactless payments, some countries in Europe are trying to phase out of cash entirely. There are already laws in place that allow businesses in Sweden to refuse cash. Other Northern countries like Norway and Denmark also prefer cashless or contactless payment. The UK is more similar the the United States. While they have options for debit and credit cards, purely digital payments haven’t caught on yet.


While Europe and North America have been slow to pick up cashless payment systems, countries in Asia have fully embraced digital currency. China has seen the most significant growth in cashless payments. They use region specific apps like AliPay and WeChat Pay and most transaction happen by scanning a QR code. In South Korea, payment apps of every kind are so popular the government is thinking about getting rid of some coins and bills entirely.

Mobile Payment Alternatives

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While it’s not always possible to travel without cash, there are a few apps and digital wallets that will give you the most coverage worldwide.

Apple Pay

For iPhone users, Apple Pay is the preferred contactless payment platforms. The app allows you to add all your physical cards to one digital wallet. This application cannot be used on Android phones.

Google Wallet

This application is available in 28 countries and is one of the most widely used digital wallets today. You can add credit cards, loyalty cards, concert tickets, vaccine records, and more to the app. Beyond just offering payments, Google Wallet aims to replace your physical wallet entirely.

Samsung Pay

While it bears a striking resemblance to Google Wallet, Samsung Pay offer more cashback rewards than Google or Apple. Along with that, you can purchase, send, and reciee gift cards on the app.


Paypal is a digital wallet that is primarily used for online payments and peer-to-peer transactions. However, they offer a debit card that connects to your PayPal account. This can be used at any standard point of sale system. The main reason to use PayPal over other apps is its universality. The app is available in 202 countries and is one of the most widely recognized digital wallet services to ever exist.

Can I get Cashless Car Rental in Los Angeles?

Value Rental Car offers clean and affordable rental cars for local driving in Los Angeles and Pasadena. If you’re a college student, we want to help you get on the road. We rent to drivers under the age of 21, and we offer cash and debit card car rentals. Check out some of our other articles to learn more about how car rental works!

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