When traveling abroad it’s important I look after my money. Without money, I can’t travel! In order to make my funds last longer I have to make sure I’m not throwing money down the drain on things like international transaction fees. I also have to take precautions to make sure that I am not a target for thieves, because if my wallet were stolen it would be a lot of hassle to fix the problem.
Here I’ve listed some of the top ways to look after your money while traveling, from saving on credit cards fees, to protecting your wallet abroad…
Get an international bank account
Setting up an international bank account is a good idea if you are planning to live abroad so that you get free international transfers. This means you can make international payments or receive money overseas without incurring any hefty fees. Sometimes international accounts will also come with worldwide travel insurance meaning you are covered when you’re away. You could also open an offshore savings account which provides a secure home for your money and a choice of currencies.
Shop around for credit/debit cards with low fees
Using credit card abroad can be expensive because you often have to pay a transaction fee and high interest rates for cash withdrawals if you don’t pay your bill off in full. Try to shop around for a credit card that doesn’t charge you transaction fees and high interest rates when making international transactions. I prefer to use my debit card to withdraw from the ATM as I am charged £2 per transaction, but I always try to withdraw larger amounts so that I’m not visiting the ATM too much on my trip. If you’re a frequent flyer and you have a good credit score you might want to look at credit cards that allow you to collect air miles so you can enjoy free flights and upgrades.
Arrange your travel money in advance
Plan your travel money and currency in advance if you want to get the best rates. There are many places you can buy in advance online or visit your local post office or currency exchange. However, don’t buy your currency at the airport as it’s usually the most expensive place and the rates aren’t so attractive either. Pre-paid travel cards are now a popular option and offer much more flexibility, lower fees and are much safer than carrying cash around. This go-to travel money guide from Lending Expert explains your options in more detail.
Warn your bank before you go away
Before you go away it’s always worth calling the bank to let them know you’ll be out of the country. Often when I arrive in a new country and try to withdraw from the ATM on my debit card, my account is blocked because of a fraud alert. I then have to make an expensive phone call to the bank to get it fixed. Having said that, even if you do inform the bank before you go away, it sometimes still happens!
Pay for things on your credit card
I use to always pay for things on my debit card, but then I learnt that you have far more protection when you use a credit card. For instance, I was experiencing some problems with the Spirit Airlines website and I accidentally purchased a duplicate flight. They wouldn’t give me my money back, so I called the credit card company and they were able to launch a dispute and get the money back on my behalf!
Don’t keep all your cards in one place
If your purse gets stolen and ALL of your bank cards are in there, then you’re really stuck. It’s always good to have more than one credit card and make sure you keep them in different bags/places. When you go out sightseeing, only take one with you and leave the other behind in the hotel safe, or if possible, only take enough cash with you to last the day. If there isn’t a safety deposit box in your room, then put it somewhere deep in your backpack/suitcase and lock it up.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash
Avoid carrying large denomination bank notes because if you lose a $100 note it’s far worse than losing a $20! I generally avoid carrying more cash than I need, and I use my credit card to make payments for larger sums like hotels, tours etc.
Keep your wallet out of reach
Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket…this makes it so easy for a thief! Make sure your wallet is buried deep inside your handbag or in hard-to-access pockets with zips. People always talk about money belts and pants with secret pockets, but as I girl I like to look fashionable so I don’t use these. I always wear a stylish cross body bag so that it is more difficult for a thief to swipe my bag.
Make sure you have a backup of important information
I have photographs of my valuables, serial numbers of my electronics, photocopies of my passport and driver’s licence, travel insurance documents, and other important details saved to a secure cloud drive. I also have a document with important telephone numbers so I can call my bank if I need to. At least if I get robbed, I have some backup information that will make it easier to make travel insurance claims and call the bank. It’s also very useful if you have a parent at home who can help wire emergency cash or dig out any important documents you need.