Traveling can be a lot of fun – but it can be frustrating if you get to your destination and realize you don’t have a card that works, the right form of currency, or you realize you’ve been pick-pocketed. Here are some things to think about regarding your money when traveling.
It’s always good to pack more than one debit and/or credit card. Debit cards should be brought to access money from ATMs or for regular transactions. Credit cards should be brought for purchases and/or emergencies. It may be good to bring cards from varying networks or institutions. Outside of the US, Discover and American Express cards aren’t usually accepted so your best bet will be to bring VISA or MasterCard debit/credit cards when you travel abroad.
Make sure your cards are chip-enabled. EMV chips make transactions more secure. Outside of the US, EMV chip technology has been the norm for decades. Fraudsters know people still have cards that don’t have EMV chips, so they find ways to place malware on the magnetic stripe part of the merchant terminal. No one wants to be traveling in a foreign country and learn that their card has been shut off because scammers have started going on spending sprees after you used a compromised card terminal. When using your debit card at terminals, select or ask to run it as a credit transaction, so the possibility of the PIN getting compromised is lower.
Notify financial institutions of your travel plans. Banks and credit unions have fraud technology set up at varying levels. Some institutions block regions, merchants and even entire countries due to the amount of fraudulent transactions generating from those areas. Make sure you notify them of where you’re traveling and what you would like to use the card for. If you know you only want or need to use a specific card for a specific transaction or type of transaction, let them know! However, the institution may still flag transactions as potential fraud. If you are traveling to a high-risk area and the transaction meets certain criteria, it may still be declined. Make sure you have ways to contact your financial institution (whether it be online, mobile, or calls) or give them a secondary way to contact you while you are away. Give your financial institution the phone number to your hotel, host, or another local number if possible.
It’s always good to bring both US currency as well as the currency of your destination. It’s often cheaper to make a withdrawal from an ATM upon arrival at your destination instead of exchanging cash ahead of time. You may be charged a fee to use the ATM, but that fee is often less than what would be charged to exchange currency at a currency exchange. Be aware of the ATMs you use abroad – make sure to use ones that are inside airport security or at a financial institution to reduce the risk of using an ATM terminal that has been compromised.
Where should you keep your money when you travel? When traveling out of country, you may want to put cash in a few different places. You may want to keep some cash on you and some hidden in your luggage. If you are traveling to a place that is known for pickpockets, it may be a good idea to wear a money belt, wear clothes with hidden pockets, or use a decoy wallet. Keep a couple dollars and expired cards in your decoy wallet – so when a fraudster thinks they got you, they actually don’t! If walking around with a purse or backpack, keep money in an interior pocket – make it challenging for others to find or get to your cash, cards and IDs.
It’s also important to never show how much money you are carrying. In areas where haggling over price is the norm, if the seller sees you have a lot of cash that $10 souvenir just became $20!
Questions? Contact us at 207-282-6169. Happy Travels!