Look after your money abroad

Before you leave for your next trip abroad, take a moment to think about your money options. In this blog we will look at the selection of payment methods available to you and some handy money tips to keep you safe on your travels…

Tell your bank
Banks and credit-card providers monitor accounts for suspicious transactions. If they see overseas spending and don’t know that you’re abroad, you may find your cards are stopped to protect your account.

Foreign currency
Even if you plan to use travellers’ cheques or plastic while you’re abroad, it’s usually a good idea to get a small amount of foreign currency before you go for smaller things, such as taxis, food and tipping for service.

It’s usually cheaper to buy foreign currency before you go, but you’ll generally pay more if you buy it at the airport. You can buy currency from lots of places, such as banks, bureaux de change, online or the Post Office, so shop around for the best rate.

Travellers’ cheques
Travellers’ cheques work in a very similar way to cash when you’re abroad. You pay for them in advance and sign them twice, once when you buy them and once when you exchange them. If you use them to pay for something in a shop, your change will be given to you as cash, but check the shop will accept them first.

Remember to write down the Travellers’ cheques serial numbers and keep these somewhere safe. If they are lost or stolen you can report it to the provider who will arrange for replacements to be sent to you.

Credit vs Debit card
It’s usually better to use your debit card at cash machines, as you’ll usually be charged less than if you use a credit card. Find out what these charges are before you go and think about using your cards less often, as it will cost less.

Pre-paid money card
A prepaid card is another way to take your money on holiday. They can be loaded up with Euros, US dollars or Sterling and can be useful for budgeting because you can only spend the amount you put on the cards!

One of the main advantages is that they can be cancelled and replaced for a small fee if they are lost or stolen, which makes them safer than carrying cash. And as they’re not linked to your bank account, you will be protected against fraud.

While you’re away *

  • Be aware of others when using an ATM. Always shield your PIN entry and never disclose your PIN code to anyone.
  • Keep your cards close to you. Beware of pickpockets and never leave your bags unattended.
  • Write down the numbers on your travellers’ cheques
  • Write down your credit card numbers and expiry dates – leave a copy at home
  • Check your credit card is valid in the country you’re visiting
  • Note your credit card’s emergency cancellation phone number
  • Take enough money to cover emergencies
  • Familiarise yourself with the local currency as soon as you arrive
  • Don’t carry more money than you need for the day/evening
  • Keep a small amount of cash in your wallet and the rest in a secure money belt or inside pocket
  • If you have several credit/debit cards, only take one out with you
  • Leave your cash, cards and travellers’ cheques in a hotel safe – check it is secure

* Source – Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Don’t scrimp on travel insurance!
Travel insurance is a necessity for traveling abroad. Remember to carry your travel insurance 24-hour emergency assistance number on you at all times along with your policy number. Call us for an instant 24/7 travel insurance quote, for just £5.91** 24/7 travel insurance will cover you for a 3-day trip to Europe!

**Premium £5.91 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a Standard single-trip policy for 3 days in Europe including personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (September 2009) and are subject to change.