When the time comes for you to travel, you have to learn how to stay safe and smart – especially when it comes to money. Whether it’s how you carry your money, how you spend your money or even dealing with currency exchange, acting smart will keep you safe and assure you have all the money you need when you need it.
Tips for Your Money When You Travel
If you decide to travel overseas, research as much as possible about how money spending and exchanging works in the areas you will visit. The traveler’s site Lonely Planet gives basic tips on this.
- Make sure your card is accepted where you’re going.
- Notify your bank you’re traveling to prevent a temporary cut-off of your account (for identity theft protection).
- Keep a few stashes of emergency cash for unexpected expenses.
- Never hand your card to anyone else.
- Keep emergency numbers handy in case your card needs to be canceled.
- Look carefully at the ATM finger pads as they may be different – you don’t want to lose your card to ATM machines.
- Consider travelers checks as a substitute for money, because they can be replaced if you have the receipt and emergency number.
- Keep in mind certain places in Asia and Africa don’t have ATM’s and only accept cash. Prepare accordingly.
Best Foreign Exchange Methods
When you travel abroad you will likely have to exchange money at some point. When you purchase things, there will be a difference in how much your money is worth and different methods of exchange will offer you different fees. NBC News did a breakdown of the most and least effective means of exchange. From least effective to most they rank:
6. Pre-paid foreign currency card.
5. Travelers checks.
4. Buying cash online.
3. Exchanging cash at the bank.
2. Withdraw cash at an ATM.
1. Credit card.
Using a credit card will get you the best exchange rate possible and protect your purchases. Before you travel, use comparison sites and find credit cards with low interest rates domestically and internationally to use for your trip.
Because you will use credit and debit cards for the majority of your transactions, pay attention to any extraneous fees. Like here in the U.S., when you use a foreign ATM there may be unknown costs. Contact your bank before you travel to see if there are additional fees or issues using their bank cards when you travel. An AARP article cited that the Consumer Action reviewed a number of cards and want people to be aware:
- There may be a charge or transaction fees for making debit purchases with your PIN number.
- Instead of paying ATM withdrawal fees, get cash back for free when you’re making a purchase at a store.
- Look for cards that offer free cash withdrawals at in-network ATMs.
Aside from banks, credit cards, and currency exchange, learn about day-to-day money transactions or customs where you’re traveling. For example, tipping can be very different from country to country. In many European countries the tip is included as part of the bill, other countries may have lower or higher percentages that are typically offered. Find out ahead of traveling so you maintain proper etiquette as a guest in their country.
Don’t let the logistics of figuring out money scare you away from traveling abroad. Do your homework and be prepared, it is well worth the adventure of traveling!