How to prepare financially for foreign travel
Monday, 16 September 2019
Planning an international trip isn't just about making hotel reservations and travel arrangements.
To make your trip successful, you also have to make plans for your money: If you don't have access to your bank account or the proper currency on hand, you won't be able to purchase food, pay for transportation, access attractions or buy souvenirs.
Before you leave home, consider taking these steps to help ensure that you'll have the money you need to fulfill your travel plans without a hitch.
Exchange some currency
Before traveling internationally, exchange some money at your bank for the currency used in your destination. You may need to make an appointment a week or more in advance of your trip to do this, as your bank may not have the currency available at any given moment. By having some local currency when you arrive, you won't have to worry about finding a bank or currency exchange office immediately upon your arrival.
Learn the exchange rate and how it affects your buying power
Currency exchange rates fluctuate all the time. If you're going to make purchases in an unfamiliar currency, it's a good idea to understand how that currency translates to the U.S. dollar so you can make wise judgments about how much to buy.
Once you've exchanged some money, figure out how much of the foreign currency it takes to equal $1, $5, $20 and $100. You could even write these denominations on a piece of paper to keep with you to help you estimate the costs of various items while you're traveling. When you have a handle on how the local currency compares to the U.S. dollar, you'll be better able to judge whether you're paying too much for something.
Choose which card or cards to use on your trip
If you have more than one credit card or debit card, it's best to leave at least one at home; if your wallet is lost or stolen on your trip, you'll still have a card to use when you return.
But don't choose randomly which cards to take with you on your trip. Many cards charge higher interest rates or extra fees for international transactions. Find out whether yours do—and if they do, consider getting a card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees or higher interest. If you're using a debit card, use one that waives fees when you use ATMs from other banks.
Contact your credit (or debit) card providers
When you've decided which card(s) you'll be using on your trip, contact those card providers to let them know your plans. Some credit and debit card providers will flag international use of the card as fraud and block your ability to use the card. If you let them know ahead of time where you'll be traveling, you can avoid that hassle.
Take stock of your wallet
Foreign travelers are sometimes susceptible to theft or loss, so make sure you know what's in your purse or wallet. If you know exactly how much cash you have, which credit cards and other documents are in your wallet, you can easily report a crime or start replacing the lost property. Consider maintaining a secure digital document where you can store all the card numbers and copies of your ID and other important documents.
The content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither BBVA USA, nor any of its affiliates, is providing legal, tax, or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax, or financial consultant about your personal situation.
Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BBVA USA or any of its affiliates. Links to third party sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement. BBVA USA does not provide, is not responsible for, and does not guarantee the products, services or overall content available at third party sites. These sites may not have the same privacy, security or accessibility standards.
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