The coronavirus pandemic has put international travel on pause, but don’t stop dreaming. You can still take steps now to prepare for your next trip.
A summer vacation is just what you need after months of quarantine. Especially when it comes to money, however, it’s no secret that traveling has its share of challenges.
Although it helps, the answer isn’t as simple as building up a stockpile of cash. You need ways to spend, save, withdraw, and protect it.
Use these nifty finance tools to make sure your next trip abroad goes off without a hitch:
1. A Card for International Transactions
International transaction fees are frustrating, and they add up quickly. Depending on what bank or credit card you use, you can expect these fees to add 3-5 percent to the total of every transaction.
Skip international transaction fees by using a card designed for travelers. With the right debit card, what you see at the register is what you’ll actually pay.
2. A Currency Converter
Depending on where you travel, you may need to exchange your currency. Although you could do so in the airport or at a nearby bank, you’ll pay a premium.
With apps, you can send money to people in your native currency that they receive in a different currency. Even if you don’t actually convert your money, you can use the calculator to understand prices. For example, you may not have a good sense of how cheap or expensive €100 is until you convert it to a currency you’re familiar with.
3. A Way to Withdraw Cash from ATMs
In the United States, it’s rare to run across a vendor that doesn’t accept credit cards. You might be surprised at how many shops in other countries only take cash.
No matter how much you prepare, chances are good that you’ll have to withdraw cash from an ATM while you’re traveling. If you don’t have a card for withdrawing cash from ATMs, you may get slammed with massive fees.
Before you leave, be sure your debit card also functions as an ATM card. Ask your bank about ATM fees abroad, which may be greater than those you pay when you withdraw cash domestically. Get a list of in-network ATMs so you can minimize these charges.
4. Mobile Banking
Banking on your mobile device makes it possible to access your account from anywhere. From your cell phone or tablet, you can do the following while on vacation:
- Review your recent transactions
- Pay bills at home
- Transfer money between accounts
- Receive notifications about potentially fraudulent activity
- Cancel or freeze your card
Even if you’re not at your bank in person or on a desktop computer, you can still keep a handle on your finances while abroad. Just remember, if cell service is spotty where you’ll be visiting, you may need to find Wi-Fi to access your bank’s mobile app.
5. An App for Finding Deals on Travel
Flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars can be costly. The good news is that their prices fluctuate throughout the year.
Apps like Hopper predict the price of travel services before you book. Monitor these prices for a month, and buy when the algorithm predicts they’ll be at their cheapest. It’s a quick, easy way to book your trip at the lowest price.
6. An App for Locating the Cheapest Gas
Especially if your international experience involves a road trip, remember to factor in fuel costs. These can vary widely between different countries.
Consider downloading an app like Waze. Although primarily used for carpooling, it also gathers real-time information from its users about traffic conditions, accidents, speed traps, and gas prices.
Much like texting, using an app while you drive is dangerous. Ask your trusty passenger to guide you around traffic jams and point you to the cheapest gas stations.
7. Automatic Payments for Bills at Home
If you’re not using automatic payments for your bills already, you may want to set them up before you jet. Manually paying each bill with a card or a check is tedious when traveling. Not only is it difficult to do overseas, but it’s also easy to forget.
On vacation, your bills should be out of sight and out of mind. Set up autopay so you can forget about them. If a government or utility provider only accepts checks, your bank may be able to issue them for you.
8. A Travel Purse or Wallet
Even if you travel lightly, you’re likely toting around cards and cash. You can always use the purse or wallet you already have, but you may want to buy one that’s specifically designed for travel.
Travel purses and wallets tend to be lighter and less bulky than their peers. They’re ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. They also have special features to protect travelers, such as RFID blocking, which keeps hackers from digitally reading your card numbers using near-field technology.
Unfortunately, theft and fraud are common at many destination spots. It’s important to take precautions with your money when you travel.
9. A Bank Travel Notice
Put yourself in a banker’s shoes: If your card was unexpectedly used to withdraw cash in a foreign country, what would you do? Probably freeze the account due to suspected fraud.
A frozen account is the last thing you want to deal with while traveling. To get access to your money again, you’d need to go through a series of safeguards. That can take days, and you need money to spend.
Notify your bank at least two weeks before you leave. Tell them where and when you’ll be traveling, as well as when you expect to return. Your bank will happily add a travel notice to your account. That way, no bank employee panics when you start withdrawing money from the other side of the world.
With these helpful tools, you can think about things other than money when you travel internationally. The more prepared you are, the more fully you can enjoy your vacation.