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How To: Keep Your Money Safe Abroad
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Posted October 1, 2015
Notify your credit card/debit card providers that you are traveling
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If you don’t, it is likely that your card will be blocked after your first purchase. Financial institutions often track spending patterns on cards to prevent fraud, and if a sudden purchase appears overseas, it gets flagged as suspicious activity. If this happens, you may be stranded with an inactive card until you are able to contact your provider.
Check with your credit union or bank on international fees and charges
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It is very common for cards to have international fees. On average, there is a 1% charge on all overseas ATM transactions and a 3% charge on direct card transactions.
Never carry all your cash and cards in one place
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If everything is carried in your wallet and you accidentally leave it at a restaurant, the next few days may be nothing but a major headache. Try keeping a card in your wallet, a pre-paid debit card in your pocket, some cash in a money belt, and an emergency stash back in your hotel room.Make sure you are aware of where everything is, and check often to make sure nothing’s gone missing.
Lock all your valuables in a hotel safe
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This is a common money mistake made by travelers. You may think your valuables are always safe in your hotel room, but that’s not always the case. If you don’t have access to a safe, hide anything of importance in a place that you’ll remember, but that will be hard for others to find.
Expect the unexpected
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Expect your passport to be stolen, your credit card to be lost, and to have $100 fall out of your pocket. Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law? “Anything that can go wrong, will.”
Avoid putting your wallet in obvious places
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Never put your wallet or money in your back pocket. It is easy for others to see and take without notice. Avoid carrying a small purse with thin straps. A good alternative is a backpack. Backpacks are sturdy and often have many pockets.
Research credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards
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When traveling abroad, it is especially important to have multiple forms of payment. This way, if something happens to one there is a backup option. A prepaid debit card is extremely valuable because it only holds a certain amount of money and is not tied to any personal accounts. If your credit or debit card go missing, be sure to contact your provider as soon as possible to shut it off.
Know the exchange rates
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When paying in foreign currencies, research how the conversion is going to look on your statements. There are dozens of helpful sites on the internet to help with conversion math, because you never want to be surprised when you check your balances.
Always have an emergency plan
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Have multiple options in case something goes wrong. Leaving a certain amount or balance at home with family can be a life saver in case you lose everything. This means that even though you have nothing where you are, you have funds back home that can be wired to your location.
Set up automatic bill pay
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You may forget about bills back home when you’re having so much fun exploring. Don’t let a credit card bill slip by or a loan payment go unpaid. By setting up auto-pay on your credit cards and bills, money will be automatically taken out of your account on specific days. That’s one less thing to worry about!
Save all receipts and keep track of expenses
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This is true anywhere. With so many transactions automated, we may forget that accidents still happen. Keep all receipts and keep track of what you’re spending. Accounts sometimes get double-billed, or you might be charged for a reservation you cancelled. This is also a good way to track fraud and to make sure everything that is being spent, is being spent by you.
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