You will find that it is folly to walk out of the door without having at least some cash on your person. Who knows – the local ATM (automated teller machine) may be on the blink. What if it refused to accept your credit cards? You may need to make a phone call. Carry small change, then you will not have to make an unnecessary purchase to have a banknote broken up. If you are actually on the receiving end of government surveillance, only using cash is doubly important.
Especially when travelling, you should take care to carry with you a sufficient amount of cash to pay or bail your way out of situations. This holds even more true when travelling to other countries. An example: let us assume, for instance, that you are involved in a traffic accident or merely get pulled over for some petty motoring offence. Should this happen it is highly preferable to be able to pay the fine (or post bail) on the spot. In France, foreigners who pay fines in cash right there and then, only pay 33 per cent of the standard rate levied on locals: that is two-thirds off! And no, this is not a greasy-scheme. All foreign motorists are entitled to the discount from all French officers and you DO get a receipt. In any country you may be able to carefully negotiate a similar discount with the patrol man. If that is the case, then don’t expect to be furnished with paperwork.
Some auto insurance companies offer an additional cover known as bail-bond insurance. In several Middle Eastern and Latin countries, notably Spain, authorities have the habit of holding foreign motorists in jail until bail is posted – or until the trial. This may mean wasting away in prison for weeks or even months.
If you have money to post bail yourself, it is better to have it in cold, hard cash. Cops won’t let you go until the check clears. It is dangerous to access your Swiss bank account from the confines of a jail cell, as Spanish, Mexican, or other authorities may share the information on the whereabouts of your “mother-lode” with authorities in your home country.