Oh, the adventures of traveling abroad: exploring new cultures, eating delicious local foods, perusing historical sites. Millennials adore traveling, and are refusing the mentality of putting off big trips until their golden years. In fact, a recent study showed that 65% of millennials planned on traveling to one of their “bucket list” destinations in 2016 alone. Go us!
One adventure you don’t want to have while traveling overseas is a hack on your finances. Stolen identity or fraudulent credit card transactions? Nobody’s got time for that. Here are some tips for keeping your finances safe while you’re out discovering the world:
Clear out your wallet.
If your wallet is filled to the brim, make sure you clear it out before jet setting. Only take what you’ll need on your trip, and leave the rest at home, particularly the credit and debit cards you’re not going to use anyway. The less you have on hand with your personal information on it, the better off you’ll be.
Notify your bank of your travel plans.
Before you head out of the country, tell your bank where you’re going and when. Otherwise, your bank could put a freeze on your account if purchases are made from outside the U.S. While it might just take a phone call to clear up the confusion, this can be quite inconvenient if you’re sprinting through the airport or trying to check into your hotel room after a long day of sightseeing. The added benefit is that if the bank knows when you’re coming back stateside, it makes it even easier to flag any fraudulent transactions made after you’ve already returned from your trip.
Use credit instead of debit when you can.
Credit card companies have gotten pretty savvy about detecting fraudulent purchases. The anti-fraud protection offered by credit cards can keep your account safe, even if your card number is stolen while abroad. An additional perk to using credit? If you have a foreign country-friendly credit card, you’ll be able to avoid the transaction fees your bank may otherwise hit you with for using debit.
Make copies of your financial info.
Just in case, have copies of your bank account and credit card info handy. Make sure you have the phone numbers for international customer service for those companies as well. If your cards are stolen or lost, you’ll be able to get in touch with customer service quickly before any unwanted transactions go through. It’s also a good idea to give a copy to someone at home. That way, if the list you take on your trip disappears too, you have a contact who can provide you with what you need to get things taken care of.
Bring extra cash.
For your safety and sanity, always make sure you have cash with you while you’re away. You’re much less likely to become a victim of financial identity theft with cold hard cash in your pockets. Exchange your money into the local currency, either before you leave the states, or when you arrive at your destination. A little money saving tip: Avoid the airport currency exchanges. While they are convenient, their exchange rates are not!
Review the charges made on your accounts.
While you’re away if you’re able, and certainly within a few days after you’re back in the states, make sure to review all the charges that went through on your various accounts during your trip. If something looks fishy, contact your account help line immediately, and get it taken care of sooner rather than later.
Not taking precautions with your finances before setting out abroad could lead to quite a headache when you return, and we’re not just talking jet lag. It’s hard enough to go back to work after an awesome vacay. Nobody wants to deal with a stolen identity or fraudulent transactions too. Plan ahead, and you’ll be all set to enjoy and explore. Safe travels!