In the series of things to bring when travelling abroad, this article talks about the financial aspects of travelling abroad – essential money related matters to prepare for and carry with you on your trip to a foreign country.
1. Bring at least 2-3 debit or credit cards with you abroad
When travelling, it’s possible that 1 of your cards doesn’t work at an ATM or swipe machine abroad. Or your bank suspects a fraudulent transaction and temporarily blocks it. 2-3 types of debit or credit cards will let you always have your money handy in a foreign country. Pro-tip: Try to get cards from different banks and ones with different payment processors like Visa, Mastercard. E.g., In Thailand, some places only accept Visa while some only Mastercard. All merchants may not have machines that accept Amex cards.
2. Carry spare US Dollars, Euros or Pounds
You don’t need to carry all the travel money in cash when you leave home. Swiping cards abroad is easy, fee-free or low-fee ATMs are available in most touristic areas as are currency exchange centres. But sometimes, it’s useful to have cash handy. E.g., For that first taxi ride to your hotel, want some food urgently and don’t have local currency, you can’t find an ATM anywhere but there is an exchange centre, etc.
Why US Dollars? It’s the most popular currency, will be the easiest to exchange in a foreign country or even use it as an alternate payment method. Euros or pounds are the next best currencies for this.
3. Download and activate mobile banking apps
Important things to bring when travelling abroad is ready accesses to your bank accounts and credit cards by downloading and activating the mobile apps. It is an easy way to keep track of spends, transfer money on-the-go, modify transaction limits or even freeze or block your cards in case you lose them. Alternatively, save websites of your bank in your mobile or laptop browsers.
4. Remember card pins and banking passwords
In all the fun and glory of travel, you may forget your PINs, passwords to your banks accounts and credit cards. Find the best way to remember these – either in your memory, on a small piece of paper, on encrypted password saving apps in your phone, etc. Wherever you store them, keep them separate from the cards. You do not want a fraudster to get access to your pins, passwords and cards together!
5. Save helpline numbers of your bank accounts and credit cards
Save these helpline numbers on your phone or in your diary before your travel. You might need to urgently call your bank to report unauthorized transactions, report lost cards or to unblock your cards or to check any other financial information.
6. Transfer enough money to card accounts and set spending limits
Depending on how much money you plan to use on your travel abroad, keep sufficient cash in your accounts before the travel. Don’t forget to set the spending limits for cash withdrawals and swipe at card machines. You can do this via mobile banking apps, banking websites or by calling your bank.
7. Keep mobile network active abroad for incoming banking SMS and emails
Given the increasing risk of cyber frauds, banks have come up with many mechanisms to authorize transactions – using SMSs for emails for One-Time Passwords being the common one. So ensure your registered mobile number is active with a phone network at least to receive SMSs or emails. Telecom companies nowadays don’t charge you for any incoming SMSes. Get a local SIM card abroad with data roaming switched off will allow you to receive SMSes. For data, buy a local prepaid SIM card or use wifi.
8. Take photos of important documents in a safe folder
Unmissable things to bring when travelling abroad. Photos of your passport, vaccination certificates, address proofs, tickets, etc. They are handy at airport checks, local banks, bars, etc. This also helps so you don’t have to carry your original physical passport everywhere and increase chances of losing it.
9. Inform your bank of travel plans
Informing your bank of your travel plans is so that the bank’s fraud management system doesn’t alert suspicious transactions and block your card or account. It can also help to activate international transactions on your cards in case it isn’t automatically activated.
10. Carry cards and money in different bags or pockets when travelling abroad
You don’t want all your cards to accidentally spill out of your pocket while removing other things, do you? Also, if your wallet gets stolen, you don’t want to lose all your money and all your cards at once!
Have back-ups if you lose your phone.
Phones today are a convenient way to spend money while travelling abroad. You can use Apple Pay or contactless mechanisms on mobile banking apps to transfer money / control limits, have encrypted apps to save passwords, save ID docs on the phone, etc. In the unlucky situation that you lose your phone while travelling overseas, carry cards, back-up your data, password protect all money and ID related items on the phone, have a physical copy of your IDs, remember pins, passwords and important emergency numbers.
Also read: Lose card abroad? Top 8 tips to get it back & save from misuse.