You want to find an ATM with no fees or you can dramatically dampen your holiday mood. Thankfully there are several financial travel tips you can use to avoid fees and other unexpected financial issues. Following these helpful tips will help you avoid fees. Get the best exchange rates, save money, and protect your finances wherever you travel.
Avoid International Bank Fees:
Getting money from an ATM is the easiest way to get local currency when abroad and you get the best exchange rates. The trouble is that each time you withdraw some money you are charged a fee between $5 and $7. Your bank and the local banks are charging you. Over time this can add up.
If you travel extensively, then you can end up spending around $1000 in ATM fees. You want a bank and an ATM with no fees. Start looking at other bank choices. Many banks do not charge ATM fees, which will leave you more spending money for your trip.
Get A Travel-Friendly Debit Card:
The Charles Schwab Investor Account is perfect for travelers because they refund all ATM fees from banks anywhere in the world. In addition to a debit card with no ATM fees, this Charles Schwab account offers easy online banking, no minimum balances, and free online transfers to other banks.
Don’t worry if you are not from the U.S. The HSBC Checking Account offers similar international services and access to ATMs all over the globe. However, they do have ATM fee charges you need to be aware of.
Avoid International Financial Fraud:
It is not uncommon for checking accounts to be hit by international fraud schemes. Even when you don’t use an ATM or visit a particular country, fraud still happens. The best way to avoid this is to have 3 bank accounts when you travel.
Personal Checking: You want to use this for personal expenses like paying bills. This is not to be used for any travel-related expenses. It can be used in cases of emergency should your other accounts be compromised and always needs to be locked up securely or hidden at all times.
Travel Checking: This is used strictly for travel expenses which include ATM withdrawals. Ideally, you don’t want to keep more than $1000 in this account, that way, if your details are stolen, it will not significantly impact your trip. Banks will refund you once the theft has been established. Until then, as long as you have other accounts to use, you should be fine.
Savings Account: Most travel money should stay in this account because there are no ATM cards that can be stolen. Using online banking, you can replenish funds and transfer funds to other accounts easily once they are linked. The best part is that your money will earn you interest as it sits in this account.
Travel Rewards Credit Card:
Carrying a credit card when you travel is another way to save money and stay safe. Exchange rates are cheaper when using credit cards and they serve as a great backup should any ATM cards or accounts become compromised. Using a travel rewards card can also give you free or discounted flights and hotels, not to mention most come with theft, travel, and car rental insurance.
Keep Your Cash Safe:
Cash is accepted pretty much everywhere now so you have to be more careful these days when traveling. Unlike cards, cash is not traceable so if it is stolen, you will not be getting it back. If carrying cash, you must be cautious and develop safety habits to keep your cash hidden and safe. Many like to wear money belts that are hidden beneath clothing but these can be uncomfortable. You may also take the belt off and accidentally leave it somewhere, granting easy access to your cash.
Frequent world travelers have taken to sewing secret pockets in their pants for hiding money. The concept is so popular that several clothing brands now make pants with these pockets but they can be pricey. It is also a good idea to keep a stash of cash in your luggage in hidden places like inside your socks, under shoe inserts, or inside toiletry bags. You can even sew a small patch to the back of a bag or backpack and hide money behind that.
Carry A Dummy Wallet:
Dummy wallets were designed to protect your money from muggers and pickpockets. This decoy is usually filled with receipts an old driver’s license and no more than $20 in local currency. You can even include an expired credit card for authenticity. Travelers that visit high-crime areas and cities often use dummy wallets so it is easy to hand over should you get mugged.
Getting the Best Exchange Rates
Traveling automatically comes with exchanging currencies, and there is always a premium to do this depending on which exchange method you use.
Other Travelers: The cheapest way to exchange currency is with other travelers, but this is not always an option. As you enter a new country you will likely pass people who are leaving and vice versa, making a great opportunity to swap currencies. The only time there is a fee is if one party doesn’t have exact change.
ATM Machines: Debit withdrawal from an ATM is a common way to exchange currency. Rates are usually competitive and you can find ATMs almost anywhere. Using a card from your bank at home, you receive the cash requested in local currency in a matter of seconds. Using an ATM is quick, easy, and in some cases, banks will refund ATM fees. You want a bank and an ATM with no fees.
Credit Card: Credit cards are known to give the best exchange rates but they cannot be used everywhere. Many establishments only accept cash, depending on where you are traveling, making it necessary to have alternative methods for exchanging currency.
Currency Exchange: Visiting a currency exchange booth is one of the worst ideas for exchanging money. These are typically located in airports and other travel institutions but offer horrible rates and charge a commission, too. Many try to entice you by advertising “no commissions”, but there is always an additional fee added to the overall rate so they can make a profit.
Money Changers: These individuals hang around international land borders and are worse than exchange booths. In many countries, these individuals are involved in scams to get more money out of you. A popular scam is for a taxi driver to drive you to a border, where you need to change taxis to travel through the next country. The new taxi driver doesn’t accept the currency you have forcing you to use a money changer, that will make an unfair deal with you. Should you ever find yourself in this situation, be sure to check the money twice for counterfeit bills and make sure you got the correct change.
Wherever you plan on traveling, prepare ahead and be sure to always keep some of the local currency on hand at all times. Remember, you want a bank and an ATM with no fees.
Fraud Protection: What You Need to Know
Credit card and ATM card fraud is real and happens all over the world. It seems to be particularly common among travelers. There are a few rules you should follow to keep your finances safe from fraudulent activity.
Call Your Bank: Before you leave for any trip, let your bank know where you will be going and the dates you will be gone. This information helps accurately identify fraudulent activity on your account.
DO NOT Use Public Computers: While public computers are convenient, there is no guarantee of security. Any information you enter is at risk and hackers are well equipped these days to record keystrokes on computers. Only use secure computers and if you have to use public computers, be sure to use a secure password manager like Last Pass.
Never Let Go Of Your Credit Card: Any time you pay with a credit card, be sure you keep your eyes on it at all times. Do not let anyone take the card from you or offer to run it for you. If the card machine is in another room, then be sure to accompany the person to swipe your card.
Despite the risks to your finances, traveling is a wonderful adventure. These tips are not designed to scare you, but to help prepare you. Most of the time you will have nothing to worry about, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.