The Ageless Traveler Hints and Tips for Handling Money Abroad

With the U.S. dollar losing ground to foreign currency, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for your trip abroad that will save you money. For example, before ATMs you needed a degree in math to figure out whether you should buy foreign currency with US dollars or travelers checks considering the different commissions and fees. However, you must do your homework before you leave home. Here are some points to consider.

1. Which card to use?
Credit card companies may charge transaction fees which range from 2.5 to 3% of the cost of your purchase. A 250 euro room can cost $363 after conversion and credit card fee. Shop around for a no transaction fee card. Currently Capital One and Schwab have no transaction fees. However, the American Express card, which has a transaction fee, provides the benefit of a reimbursement program for items lost or broken within 90 days of purchase for amounts up to $1,000.

2. What is your daily withdrawal limit?
Fortunately for me and those who slept through math class, ATM's have eliminated those problems.
Ask your bank how much money you can withdraw over a 24 hour period. You may want to raise that limit as even unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money from one machine can be included in your daily limit.


3.  Call your credit card company before you leave home. Why?

Some credit card issuers will not allow charges if they believe there is an unusual or fraudulent use. Let your credit card company know before you travel which countries you will be visiting.

4. How do I telephone home cheaply?

In many western European countries and elsewhere, you can go into a tobacco shop (Tabac) and buy a telephone card cheaply (5-7 euros) that will give you anywhere from 1000 minutes up and ask if it can be used to call the United States. These cards can typically be used in hotel rooms or certain phone booths, but usually calls to 800 numbers are blocked.

5. How do I protect myself from pickpockets?

When using public transportation after arriving in a foreign country or within the country, use a belt with a small pouch attached which you can wear under your clothes to hide your passport, credit cards and cash. These can be purchased at luggage stores and online.

6. What if I lose my passport or credit cards?

Before leaving home, make a photocopy of the page in your passport with your passport number since it will help speed up replacement. Make a list of the credit card names and numbers as well as the telephone number to call if it is lost. Beside the typical 800 telephone number on the card, try to get a non 800 telephone number since these may not work from the telephone cards.

Now that you have done your homework, have a great trip!