Traveling abroad is an exciting adventure; however, losing your cash and credit cards is devastating and is bound to ruin your trip. While travelers take great pains in planning their itineraries, choosing clothing and packing their luggage, many do not take the time to consider their finances. Planning ahead and taking steps to protect your finances when traveling abroad will not only save you money, but it could be the key to having a wonderful vacation abroad.
1. While traveling abroad, limit the amount of cash you keep with you to avoid theft or accidental loss. Furthermore, do not carry multiple credit cards in case you lose your wallet or luggage. Using one card for all expenses will also help you track your charges once you return home. However, it is a good idea to have a spare card locked in your luggage in case you lose the main card.
2. If you have a new ATM card or credit card that you will be using for traveling abroad, test the card before you leave the United States. Test the card at an ATM, restaurant and retailer to make sure that it works. Use a numeric PIN and commit it to memory. Do not write the PIN down and do not carry it with you when you travel.
3. Before you leave to travel abroad, check the fees that your credit card company will charge you for foreign purchases. Many credit card companies charge currency conversion fees in addition to a small percentage fee for foreign credit card purchases, debits or ATM withdrawals. To find the best deal, check with several credit card companies well in advance of your trip overseas and get a credit card from the company with the lowest fees.
4. Although prepaid travel cards have several advantages, before choosing to use a prepaid travel card for overseas travel, research the fees and costs associated with these cards. Prepaid travel cards can help protect you against theft, because they are not linked to a bank account or have a high (or unlimited) credit limit. However, they typically have fees (monthly, activation, reloading, etc.), and they may have fees for ATM use or high currency conversion charges. If you have money remaining on the card afterward, you may have to pay a fee to remove it. Prepaid travel cards may be safe and convenient, but you may pay more than you think to use them.
5. Contact your credit card company before leaving to advise them that you will be traveling outside of the United States. If not, its fraud protection alerts could be triggered, and your card could be blocked until you contact the company. Ask if there is a specific telephone number for overseas customer service or a specific telephone number to report a lost or stolen card while traveling abroad. Write this number down and keep it with you at all times. Store the telephone number in your phone’s contact list.
Nora Dunn, “Travel and Money: Using Prepaid Travel Cards,”Wisebread.com.