Consider Your Financial Needs Before Traveling Abroad

By Leni Parrish on May 4, 2009

foreign-currencyWith the official start of summer just a few weeks away, many people are preparing for the busiest travel season of the year. If traveling overseas is part of your summer itinerary, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your cash and credit needs are met. Whether this is your first trip or you are a seasoned traveler, anticipating all you financial needs is not always possible.

Here are a few tips to help travelers prepare for their trip abroad:

  • If possible buy foreign currency before leaving the United States. By doing this you can avoid waiting in line and paying the high fees and unfavorable exchange rates typically found in airports and hotels. Contact your bank to see if you can purchase foreign currency; make sure you give them several days notice in the event they do not carry foreign currency at their location.
  • Decide which credit or debit cards you will be taking with you on your trip. Check the expiration date and available credit to avoid problems using your card in a foreign country. Contact the bank that issued your card to let them know you will be traveling abroad. This will give them a heads up when they start seeing foreign transactions which often would signal credit card fraud resulting in a freeze on your account. Ask your bank if there is anything you need to know about using that car overseas.
  • Foreign travelers are advised against taking all of their credit or debit cards when traveling abroad, however you may want to have a secondary card that you store in a separate and safe location while traveling. This card can serve as a backup in the event your main card is lost or stolen.
  • Many people enjoy the convenience and added protection of using traveler’s checks. As with foreign currency it is often easier to purchase foreign traveler’s checks before leaving the United States. Your bank may need advanced notice to ensure they have the traveler’s checks available before your departure date.
  • Most countries accept four digit PIN numbers, however it is in your best interest to contact your bank before leaving to ensure your current PIN will be acceptable at your destination. It is easier to change your PIN before traveling than to wait and discover you cannot access your cash or credit when you need it most.
  • Before departing on your trip, make photocopies of the front and back of any cards you are going to use when traveling. One copy can remain behind in safe keeping with a trusted friend or relative and the other should be packed with your other travel items in a safe location. Write down important contact information for each card that you are carrying in the event your card is lost or stolen. This way you won’t waste precious time looking up phone numbers to notify your bank that your card is no longer in your possession. Many credit and debit cards offer “zero liability” protection which absolves you of liability for most purchases over $50 made by an unauthorized user. In order to benefit from this protection you must notify your card issuer immediately after noticing your card is missing.

Whether traveling for business or holiday, a trip abroad can be made more enjoyable by preparing for your travel money needs in advance.

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