Money Tips For Overseas Travel

Jul 16, 2015

Before you travel out of the country, here are some tips for handling funds abroad.

Before you leave:

  • If you plan to use your VISA debit or credit card, check the expiration date before you leave. Cards expire on the last day of the month indicated. If your card will expire while you’re away, call the credit union and ask for a replacement card early so you’ll receive it before you leave. Your new card may require activation by calling an 800 number; a debit card may require an ATM transaction, or both. These must be done while you’re still in the U.S.
  • Travelers Cheques can be purchased in euros and in other foreign currencies, which eliminates the need for merchants to calculate the conversion rate and may increase acceptance.
  • Carry enough foreign currency in cash to get you out of the airport. Airport exchange rates are high.
  • Create a list of the contents of your wallet: debit, ATM and credit card numbers, and anything else you might need to replace if your wallet is lost or stolen. Include the overseas lost/stolen numbers. Toll-free 800 numbers are not accessible from overseas.
  • If you’re relying on an ATM card for cash withdrawals while traveling, it must be connected to your checking account. Foreign ATMs cannot access your savings account.

While You’re Traveling:

  • Have a variety of payment methods available, such as credit cards, debit card, local currency and travelers checks, so that something unforeseen, such as an ATM attendant strike or a network interruption, doesn’t leave you in a pinch.
  • Contact your financial institution to see if your credit or debit card needs to be activated for foreign use.
  • Take advantage of local ATMs – they withdraw from your checking account and dispense funds in local currency. A small exchange fee may apply, but it is usually less than at a bank.
  • Most ATMs offer a choice of languages; the British flag is used to represent English.
  • ATMs may offer the option of entering a six digit PIN. If six digits are required, add two zeros to the end of your four-digit PIN.
  • Keep your list of plastic card numbers and their lost/stolen reporting numbers in a separate location from the cards. Don’t photocopy your cards; this could give thieves all the information they need to transact on your account.
  • Inform the credit union and any other financial institutions to note on your account that you anticipate transactions from outside the country. If they have a fraud monitoring system, atypical transactions could trigger a fraud alert. If that happens and a financial institution is unable to contact you, you could find yourself in a foreign country with your VISA credit or debit card frozen. However, it is unwise to give anyone your specific dates of travel in order to protect against home break-ins.

With a little planning and forethought, you can save your vacation from becoming a nightmare. Have a safe and happy trip!