Stay Financially Safe While Traveling Abroad

Author: Ashlie Hagemann, Supervisor, Fraud 06/17/2022

As travel plans start back up in full swing, you might be thinking of dusting off your suitcase and taking a trip out of the country. A lot may have changed since the last time you travelled outside domestic borders, but the financial dangers of vacationing abroad are the same. Taking the necessary steps to protect your information and finances should be part of your travel preparations. Here are a few things you should consider in order to stay financially safe while traveling abroad.

Notify Your Bank

You don’t want the awful surprise of your card getting declined in another country. For your protection, your bank will block suspicious or unusual activity on your account, including foreign transactions. Notifying your bank in advance of your travel plans will ensure that your card works properly while abroad. You can call your bank’s customer service line a few days prior to your trip or even the day before you leave. Inform the bank of your travel dates and which countries you will be visiting. Letting your bank know when you’ll be out of the country is especially important for preventing fraud after you’ve returned from your trip. The bank will block any foreign charges that occur past your dates of travel.

Check for International Card Fees

While on the phone with your bank, you can ask about any international card fees. International fees and currency exchange rates can vary based on the country so asking your bank directly will ensure accurate information. If you plan to withdraw any cash while on your trip, ask your bank about foreign ATMs. Some banks partner with foreign ATM companies and can inform you about in-network ATM machines (with low or no fees) at your destination.

It is a good idea to get some foreign currency a few days before your trip. Your bank can provide you with foreign bank notes, usually available for next-day pickup. Be sure to check the currency rates for getting bills domestically versus abroad. Your bank can usually offer competitive currency exchange rates.

Make Copies of Important Documents and Bank Info

It’s always wise to prepare for the worst-case scenario before traveling. In the unfortunate event your luggage gets lost or your wallet is stolen, you want to make sure you have copies of your identification and card information at home.

Proof of identification will be very important when traveling in and out of the country. Take several copies of your important documents (identification, lodging, plane tickets). Don’t depend entirely on your phone to store this information—it can get lost or stolen, too! There have been cases of vacationers getting stuck in a foreign country for longer than they planned because they did not have identification. You will be glad to have a backup if misfortune strikes. 

Don’t Take Your Entire Wallet

You don’t need to take all your credit cards, debit cards, or forms of identification with you on your trip. If your wallet or purse is stolen, you don’t want all of your important documents in the hands of a thief. Consider leaving debit cards at home. Credit cards are easier and faster to freeze in the event of being stolen or compromised. Take one or two of your credit cards and only the amount of cash you will need until you can get more.

Beware of Fraudsters

It is very common for scammers to target travelers, both at home and abroad. Do diligent research when booking with travel advisors or vendors. Try to find customer reviews of a company or agency before doing business with them. When communicating with a vendor, pay attention to their behavior and language. Be skeptical of amazing deals or offers that seem too good to be true. A common tactic of fraudsters is to make easy money that is difficult to trace. Never agree to make upfront payments in the form of cryptocurrency or cash payment apps. Be highly suspicious of vendors who pressure you to make a hasty decision. A scammer will want you to sign an agreement or make payment without carefully reviewing the terms or asking the right questions.

If you have the opportunity to travel out of the country, taking these extra measures to stay financially safe can help ensure the experience is smooth and worry-free. Your bank has several services to help you manage your finances safely, from currency exchange to card controls to fraud resources. For more information on preparing your finances for traveling abroad, visit PlainsCapital.com.

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