A Financial Checklist When Traveling Abroad
Gone are the days when you needed traveler's checks to shop or conduct business abroad. But that doesn't mean you should run to the international airport with only a wing and a prayer. It pays to take the time to get ready and get set at least a week before you go.
Talk to Your Bank Before You Go
You want your banks and credit card providers to be on the lookout for fraud, but you also don't want your accounts or card to be frozen by forgetting to mention your overseas travel plans.
Deviations in your spending patterns make the folks in your bank's fraud office stand up and take notice. If your account activity raises a red flag, the bank may freeze your account. Even traveling cross-country in the states can raise an alert. This can be difficult to resolve while you're traveling. Remember, it doesn't matter if you have a million dollars in the bank if your account is frozen and you're denied access.
It only takes a few minutes before leaving home to call your bank and credit card companies and let them in on your travel plans. In exchange, you'll have access to your funds wherever in the world you are going.
Multiple Forms of Payment Are Far Better Than One
A mix of cash, credit cards and debit cards is far better when you are traveling in foreign lands than using just one form of payment alone. Why? Because things go wrong. A credit card could be stolen in Germany, or a debit card may prove unreadable in France.
Check to see if your credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee or if they have any financial partnerships with foreign banks. If you travel often, opt for a travel rewards card that doesn't charge transaction fees or a debit card without extra withdrawal fees, so you can easily access cash in local currency. It's also good idea to carry several hundred dollars in the local currency in small denominations.
Figure Out Money Conversion and Bank Fees
Conversion rates between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies change frequently. Take the time to learn basic currency conversion rates before you fly off into the friendly skies. If you don't know whether a sandwich is a bargain or a binge at 250 Jamaican dollars, you'll have a hard time making wise financial decisions on your trip.
While you're at it, determine out how much it will cost you to call home on your cellphone, to withdraw money with your standard ATM card and to make credit card purchases in foreign countries. All of those fees add up, leaving you less money to spend on souvenirs and business allowances.