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10 things you can do to protect your money before traveling

The point of vacations is to rest and recharge, but financial surprises can disrupt your fun. To reduce potential stressors, here are ten travel tips courtesy of Better Money Habits to help you plan ahead. 

1. Sign up for mobile or online banking

Lots of people utilize online and mobile banking resources. These resources are invaluable tools to monitor and manage accounts for the frequent traveler, whether you’re relaxing on the beach or waiting to catch your next flight. But be sure to know the answers to your online banking security question before traveling in case you need to log in from a new device.

2. Pay your bills before you go

Make it easier to relax fully on the beach by paying your bills ahead of time. Alternatively, you can arrange for automatic payments to be sent while you’re away through your online banking system. To make it easier on yourself upon your return, consider signing up for paperless billing. It’ll reduce the piles of paper waiting for you at home.

3. Notify your bank or credit card company

Imagine you’re ready to move on to the next activity of the night after a delicious dinner, only to have your credit card declined. Many banks and credit card companies have fraud-monitoring systems that may mistake unusual activity, such as using your card in a different location, as fraud. Alerting your bank or credit card company of upcoming travel plans lets them know you are in control of your cards, so you don’t have to worry about an inconvenient decline. You can notify them via phone or often through your online account.

4. Make copies of your important documents

Making two copies of your passport, credit cards, and other travel documents act as a security blanket in the case of an emergency. Leave one copy with a friend or relative at home and bring the other one with you. As an additional security measure, take photos of such documents and store them securely in the cloud so you can access them if your belongings are stolen. It’s also a good idea to alert someone of your exact travel itinerary. They will know where and when to anticipate hearing from you, and be able to tell that something might not be right if they don’t.

5. Put a hold on your mail

Speaking of conveying your travel plans to others, be sure to ask the post office to hold your mail. Not only does this make it easier on the young lad watching your house for you, but it helps keep sensitive information secure by preventing theft.

6. Take extra precautions when going abroad

If you’re traveling outside of the United States, take precautions to ensure you can securely access your accounts abroad. Make sure to prepare your PIN before traveling internationally. Some international ATMs only support four-digit PINs, and won’t accept ones that start with a zero, so plan accordingly. Additionally, some foreign ATMs do not have letters on the keypads, so you’ll need to know your PIN by the numbers. In some cases, you’ll need the PIN assigned to your credit card, as some foreign card readers require a PIN when using credit.

7. Check your health coverage

Check ahead of time on what your health insurance will and won’t cover in case you end up needing medical care while traveling. You may want to plan ahead and figure out the in-network doctors in the area if you have a medical condition. If you’re traveling internationally, your insurance company may not provide coverage while you’re abroad. If that’s the case, you can purchase short-term insurance plans specifically for international travel.

8. Make sure your credit cards are travel-ready

In case a card gets lost or stolen, bring at least one other valid, permanent card along on your trip. Temporary cards don’t always work, and replacement cards can take several days to arrive. Write down the customer service numbers and double-check the expiration dates. Keep all of the written information in a separate, secure place from your cards in case you need to contact customer support for any reason. If you’re traveling abroad, consider getting a chip card if you don’t already have one, as many countries require them because of the enhanced security measures they offer.

9. When it comes to cash, plan ahead

When traveling domestically, make sure to have cash on hand in case your bank doesn’t have locations or ATMs where you’re going. When traveling internationally, you can order foreign currency ahead of time so that you’ll have cash ready to go upon landing to get you started, rather than having to track down a currency exchange immediately.

10. Find out where you can bank locally

Be sure to look up the closest location of your bank to your destination. Even if you bank with a national chain, they may not have a location or ATM that’s convenient to your travel route. This is also true of international travel. You can check to see if your home bank is partnered with any banks abroad, and if so, can help you avoid certain fees. Typically, your banks’ partner network will either be listed on its website or you can contact and ask over the phone.

Now that you have all of your (financial security) ducks in a row, check out this tip and more to learn how to save on travel expenses:


Are you trying to save money? Let America Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.


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