While traveling, you must find ways to keep your money safe and avoid making a target out of yourself, especially if you are not able to speak the local language. Without turning paranoid, you should aim for the right balance between protecting your assets and looking behind you at every step.
Notify the bank
Before you leave home, to avoid having your credit card declined due to fraud prevention mechanisms, it’s best to let your bank know in advance. Most accounts come with an online self-service where you can set the traveling period yourself and inform the bank that it should accept overseas payments. Repeat this process for each card you intend to take with you. It is best to have a debit card for regular purchases and a credit card for emergencies or more significant shopping.
Cash or card
Resist the urge to exchange money for local currency before getting there. It will be a lot more expensive. The best advice is to check with your bank and get a debit card which has no fees for foreign transactions. Once you arrive at your destination, you can use any ATM to get local currency. To make things easier, get accustomed to the denominations and try to agree on a rough converter, such as a multiplier or try to keep in mind the prices for the most frequent purchases.
It’s important to keep in mind the differences between countries and their card systems. A traveler coming from the USA traveling to Europe should have a chip and PIN card.
Fees & commissions
To avoid unnecessary spending be sure to check all the charges and fees that you will have to pay if you use your cards in the foreign country.
First, ask if you have any withdrawal fees abroad and how much is that. Aim for 0 or ask for a new product or change banks.
Next, avoid exchange booths at all costs and ask about their commissions. Also aim for 0, since you will be better off. Don’t even think about using traveler’s checks. These are a tool of the past, and you might end up in trouble.
It is best to use local currency whenever you can since this minimizes the cost differences and it makes it highly unlikely that you are charged more for the same product or service.
Prepare for the entire period
If you will be traveling for a more extended period, or even considering spending some time as a digital nomad, make sure you don’t leave any unpaid bills or recurrent payments. These could quickly add up at home and become delinquent, ruining your credit score. If you are already in this situation and far away from home, be sure to check immediately the AAACreditGuide’s advice on fixing bad credit. Put all your payments on auto-pilot to enjoy some time away from it all.
Spend wisely and keep a reserve
All those touristic trinkets might look cool in the gift shop, but will be mostly useless once you get home. Try getting something local that also has a real function, and don’t overspend. Better, keep some cash as an emergency fund at all times. Some countries even have a “bribe culture,” and extra money can go a long way. It grant you access to better experiences, an instant upgrade.