Avoid unnecessary stress and headaches by making sure your finances are set up for success before you step on the plane. Here are seven tips to ensure you and your wallet travel safely.
Notify financial institutions. Financial institutions are more alert to potential fraud and identity theft, so they are constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity. International charges will certainly trigger their system, so it’s important to give them a heads up of the specific places you will be traveling to and the dates of travel to avoid denied charges or a frozen account.
Set up online banking. If you aren’t actively using online banking, now is the time to enroll. Online banking gives you immediate, convenient access to your accounts so you can check transactions and balances, deposit/transfer funds and schedule bill payments. You can also set up alerts for specific charge amounts, set limits and more. No matter where you are in the world, you can still be close to your money.
Make copies of bank account and credit card information. Just in case your wallet gets lost or stolen, be sure to have copies of all account and credit card information on hand. You may need to cancel a card or freeze an account, and this will be increasingly difficult if you don’t have this information handy. (*Side note: be sure to make copies of your passport, too!)
Purchase travel insurance. Yes, it’s an added expense that you may end up not using but traveling abroad is expensive and travel insurance can help you recoup costs if something unexpected happens that prevents you from being able to travel. It can also reimburse you for lost baggage, trip interruption, unforeseen weather and missed flight connections. Some insurance comes with medical insurance coverage, which can come in handy if something minor or major happens while away from home.
Have multiple forms of payment. It’s important to have several choices when it comes to making purchases. Have on hand a debit card, cash and internationally accepted credit cards. Check into any international transaction fees. Be sure to keep the card you used to book anything for your trip with you at all times as many companies will need it to confirm your identity, your booking and officially process the charge.
You may also consider getting a travel rewards credit card with no foreign fees prior to booking your vacation, as foreign transaction fees can even apply to flights and hotels if booked through foreign-based companies.
Check exchange rates. When you travel abroad, you’ll be doing a lot of math to convert the local currency into U.S. dollars to determine what things cost. Download a currency app to help with this. You’ll want to convert some cash, too, and exchange rates can vary depending on where you make the conversion. While convenient, it’s generally best to not do this at the airport because they tend to charge hefty fees and give you less for your money. The best choices are to either do it through Energy Capital Credit Union before you leave or at a local ATM machine upon arrival. Major credit networks tend to offer the best exchange rates, but credit cards may not be accepted everywhere, and you’ll need to factor in those foreign transaction fees, if applicable.
Cash is king. This may come as a surprise, but not everyone accepts credit cards. Local transportation, entertainment, shopping, and tips are common cash-pay items when there is no Uber or PayPal available. Cash is accepted anywhere and everywhere. By paying with cash, you also avoid fees and will receive a fair exchange rate. You can convert cash at your financial institution before you leave or wait and convert once you arrive at your destination. Check the exchange rates to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Be sure to stick to small denominations, though, as flaunting $100 bills could draw unwanted attention.
Few things can ruin a trip faster than financial woes. Follow these tips, keep your wallet close and have a fantastic vacation!