When you take your hard-earned money on vacation, it’s important to do it right. With these crucial tips on how to carry money while travelling abroad, you’ll travel safely, and you’ll never be stuck with pesky leftover foreign currency when you come back from your next getaway.

  1. Make sure you have a foreign-friendly credit card

    In some countries, MasterCard and American Express are not accepted, nor are 5 digit PINs, so it’s best to get yourself a Visa card with a 4 digit PIN before your departure. For more tips, learn how to safely use your credit card abroad.

    TIP: In the US, PIN cards aren’t very common. When making purchases at automated machines, you’ll be prompted to enter your zip code. To do this, take the 3 digits from your postal code and add “00” to the end of the code (zero zero). When you get home, it’s a good idea to change your PIN, just in case your card may have been compromised while travelling. This will prevent any thieves from using your cloned card.

  2. Bring extra cards

    Ask your bank for an extra debit card and credit card, and leave the extra cards in your hotel safe in case you lose your wallet. To protect you from stolen belongings while travelling, make sure you’re covered with baggage insurance.

    Woman using credit card on vacation
    Leave your extra cards in your hotel safe in case you lose your wallet

     

    TIP: Consider getting a travel pre-paid credit card. They work just like regular credit cards, plus they’re replaceable, can be bought in various denominations and are accepted wherever major credit cards are accepted.

  3. Inform your credit card provider about your trip

    To avoid any declined transactions, contact your credit card provider to let them know your destination and trip dates. The best way to contact them is by calling the toll free number on the back of your credit card.

    TIP: For good measure, keep the toll free number handy in your phone or on important documents in case you end up losing your card.

    Avoid changing currency at airports

    Airport exchange services typically charge a higher exchange rate than most banks, so if you can, arrive at your destination with local currency in hand. Depending on which source has the lowest exchange rate, the best way to exchange currency is with an exchange service like TravelEx. This service doesn’t charge fees or commission, but it never hurts to scope out your options for lowest exchange rates before you commit.

    TIP: When exchanging currency, bring a variety of denominations; depending on where you’re travelling, you may not be able to break bigger bills.

  4. Cash is king

    A stash of cash is a must when travelling abroad, but if you run out of cash, be cautious of ATM machines that aren’t bank-affiliated. Both VISA and MasterCard have worldwide ATM locators, which makes it easy to find trustworthy ATMs no matter where you are. Once you have your cash, the best way to carry your money is by storing it in a few different places. This will reduce the chance of losing all of it if it gets lost or stolen.

    Woman using an ATM machine on vacation

    Opt for VISA or MasterCard ATMs, and avoid machines that aren’t bank affiliated

    TIP: Try to avoid bringing torn or wrinkled bills, because in some countries (Mexico, Peru and Egypt to name a few), merchants won’t accept torn or excessively wrinkled bills, so be picky! The last thing you want is for your money to be denied.

  5. Use money apps

    To protect your cash, rely on trusty money apps. Having your bank’s mobile app downloaded to your phone before you go will allow you to access and manage your funds from anywhere, as long as you have Wi-Fi. Apps such as EarthVPN, Protect Your Money and BillGuard are great resources for frequent international travellers.

    TIP: Subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so you can access the net safely on a secure network. Look for the word ‘secure’ beside the network you’re about to join to ensure it is security-enabled.

  6. Use your credit card at hotels and restaurants

    To help preserve your cash, use your credit card or pre-paid travel credit card at hotels and restaurants. You’ll lose no more than 3 percent, and it’s a good way to record your transactions in case you were overcharged. You’ll rack up some valuable points, too!

    Friends paying for their bill using a credit card on vacation.

    Use your credit card or pre-paid travel credit card at hotels and restaurants.

    TIP: When making a purchase with credit, always choose the local currency. Otherwise, merchants may bill you in US dollars, and they may decide on their own exchange rate, which would not work in your favour.

  7. Get rid of your excess currency

    At the end of your trip, if you’re left with excess cash, avoid converting it into your local currency at the bank. If it’s a small amount of US cash, you may as well save it for your next vacation and keep it in a safe place where you’ll remember to take it next time.

    TIP: For foreign currency, ask to apply it to your hotel bill or load it onto a Starbucks gift card (once you’re home, the money will convert back to your local currency without a fee). Another one of the best ways to exchange currency is by using a website such as Leftover Currency. You simply choose a currency, fill out a form online, and send your pesky foreign currency in the mail for exchange.

Now that you’re equipped with these tips on how to carry money when travelling, you can be confident your money’s protected – but don’t forget to protect yourself and your loved ones with travel insurance too.

Have more questions about traveling safely with your money? Leave a question below!

Happy travels,

Linnea

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