Make sure you’re keeping your finances safe when overseas
Losing or being deliberately robbed of anything when traveling abroad can be frustrating and disheartening to say the least. Right near the top of the list – second to losing your passport – for most hassle is misplacing your wallet, cash and credit cards. Once they’re gone, your trip can come to a stand still pretty rapidly.
However, carrying plastic has its advantages – quick, easy payments often at good rates of exchange and the security of not having to carry too much cash. There are risks though, so be aware of a few things and take some sensible precautions with regard to their use.
First off, choose the right cards. Traveling with more than one is sensible so that you have a backup in emergencies. Find a couple of cards that don’t charge transaction fees and guarantee sensible rates of exchange. Paying small percentages every time you use your card outside of the U.S is a sure moneymaker for your bank or credit card company and a costly and unnecessary pitfall for you. Capital One offers a fee-free overseas travel card.
Next up, before you leave home contact your card company and tell them where you’re going and when. They won’t water your plants or look after your dog, but they will get suspicious if you start using your card in unusual foreign locations. Some will even suspend it – very frustrating when you want to pay the bill in a faraway restaurant.
Second, make a note of all your card details and keep one copy in a secure location at home. Take a copy with you, too, and keep it in a safe place back at your hotel. You’ll want easy access to the information if you need to cancel one of your cards because you’ve mislaid it or had it stolen.
Once you’re on the ground, it’s all about personal security and common sense. Take only the card you’ll need with you that day when you go out, and leave the spare one in a safe place back at the hotel.
Avoid suspicious ATMs that don’t seem to be associated with a major bank. Never allow the proprietors of shops or other businesses to take your card out of sight. Keep all your receipts and check them on your bill when you return home.
Also, avoid dealing with a merchant who offers to conversion the price of your purchase into U.S. dollars. This frequently results in terrible exchange rates that can cost you a fortune. Never accept any price unless it’s in the native currency. Be alert and cautious and your little plastic friend can be a very useful tool while you’re away from home.