Travelling is an expensive hobby, made all the more expensive by the unexpected fees you can incur when withdrawing money overseas. For those who love the convenience of keeping money in their pocket, the usual options include credit cards, debit cards, and pre-loaded cash cards designed for travelling; regardless of which card you choose, there are a few things every wanderer should consider before and during their adventure.
Before you go anywhere, it’s important to alert your bank to your travel plans – when and where you will be travelling. Otherwise, it’s likely that any spending you do overseas will be detected as an unusual transaction and result in your cards being cancelled. In case something similar happens to you, it’s a good idea to bring multiple cards on holiday, particularly if you are prone to losing or damaging them, as well as a handful of correct currency for emergencies.
Things like credit and debit card fraud can be easily forgotten when you’re busy gallivanting around on holiday, but nothing puts a stop to good times faster than finding your accounts drained. Fraudulent transactions can often begin at the ATM, so avoid hole-in-the-wall spots whenever possible, especially if you’re withdrawing cash from a credit card. The safest ATMs are those attached to a brick-and-mortar bank, but if you can track down an ATM under watch by a security camera, it’s likely to be a safe bet as well.
Nix additional fees
The extra charges incurred for using your card overseas can add up quickly. If you want to make the most of your money, switching over to a bank account which promises no ATM withdrawal or foreign exchange fees is a good move. It’s also important to read the terms and conditions on your cards, as many of them may have hidden charges on overseas transactions in the fine print.
Get into the travel money card
If you can overcome the tendency towards impulsive spending while on a holiday overseas, a good travel money card might come in very handy. There is usually a small fee incurred when you load or reload money onto the card, but it comes with the significant trade-off of avoiding the unexpected transaction fees which often come with a credit or debit card purchase. As an added bonus, once you load them up, these cards will typically enable you to exchange your money for the currency of your destination and repeat the process whenever you find yourself running low on funds.
Pay in local currency
It may come as a surprise that retailers who offer to convert prices from their currency to yours could be ripping you off. Counting on the fact that you’re probably unfamiliar with the correct conversion rate, they can get extra cash out of you at the register. The good news is that much of this trouble can be avoided. Paying with a Visa or MasterCard will make sure any currency conversion is done at market rates, or paying with the local currency will allow you to bypass these conversion fees altogether. If you’re planning on heading off the beaten tourist track, the right currency will come in very handy, as will an emergency stash to cover you in the case of any unexpected costs.
Identify your bank’s foreign partners
Many of the large banks in your city are likely to partner with other banks around the world, which can be a huge help for travellers trying their best to avoid unwanted fees. Your bank can help you find out which international banks they associate with, which should enable you to withdraw cash without the hefty fee.
Have a backup plan
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that travel adventures don’t often go off without a hitch. That’s why wise travellers consider every little thing, particularly when it comes to protecting their money. The simplest and yet most effective tip for keeping your money safe and accessible overseas is to keep your cards in different places. Storing all of your cash sources in a single wallet or bag could be tempting fate, particularly if your destination is famed for its crafty pick-pockets. Arrangements that seem like overkill when you’re packing your suitcase might just save you a bad headache in the worst-case scenario; for example, enlisting a friend to receive a backup card from your bank and mail it to you at your overseas address. You can never think too far ahead.
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