Money business during your travels is easy to handle nowadays. There are still a few things to be aware of. Getting into trouble can be easily avoided, you just need to be adequately prepared.
You should consider to withdraw a larger amount of cash, before you start your journey. If your local currency is not widely accepted I recommend to withdraw USD. Other widely accepted currencies like EUR will do aswell, though USD will give you more advantages. You can use USD in many countries outside of the U.S.A, (e.g. parts of South East Asia and Africa) and it will be exchanged almost everywhere. You might ask yourself why, below are a few benefits of having some extra cash with you.
- It’s a backup. In case your credit card stoped working or got stolen you want to have a backup. Nowadays there are alternatives like western union, to prevent yourself from sleeping on the streets until you get your new card. They usually come with hefty fees though.
- It’s fee-free. Withdrawing in your homecountry is fee-free (unless you want to withdraw foreign currencies). If you withdraw in a foreign country you will usually have to pay your bank fees aswell as the foreign bank fees. Exchanging bigger amounts of money might not be worth though, exchange rates can be even worse than bank charges.
- It saves trouble. If you arrive in a foreign country at late night you don’t want to look for an ATM or start to exchance money, just to pay the taxi to your hotel. Also exchange rates at airports are usually a rip-off. Therefore it makes sense to get a smaller amount of your first destination´s local currency aswell.
It’s risky to carry a larger amount of cash with you, so don’t overdo it. 200-300 $ should be enough. That’s still a risk of course, but you will have that risk anyway, unless your bank refunds your fees and you can keep withdrawing smaller amounts. If you don’t withdraw large amounts the fees will eat up a tremendous percentage of your budget.
If you plan to travel for a longer period you will need atleast one bank card to stock up on cash. Carrying just one bank card with you is actually not the best way to manage your money business. If something ever happens to that card you are screwed.
- Carry atleast 2 bank cards with you. At best you cover the Cirrus (MasterCard, Maestro) AND Plus (Visa) network. This is just another backup, in case you get problems with one card. Having a card from both networks is not that important anymore, but it won’t harm either. It doesn’t have to be a criminal act that causes trouble, it can be a bank-intern problem aswell. E.g. my weekly limit got debited once, but the ATM didn’t dispense any money. The next day I went to the bank office, to get things settled. It was a problem with the ATM, they transfered my money back. Since my weekly limit was used up I would have been screwed anyways, without a backup card.
- Get online banking access. If you haven’t done so already. This is the best and easiest way to check your balance and transfer money while travelling. If it is available at your bank I recommend to receive TAN-numbers via SMS. You will notice, and be able to react immediately, in case someone tries to scam you.
- Keep your emergency numbers at hand. Pretty self explanatory. You want to react immediately when something happens.
Bank fraud becomes more and more popular. There is no 100% guarantee to not become a victim, but you can take a few precautions. That’s most likely all it needs to make criminals go for an easier target. Below are the most important precautions to minimize your risk.
- Set a weekly limit. You can limit the damage criminals are able to cause, in case they get a hold of your card and access data. At best your limit is 400 € and you already withdrawed 380 € that week. The thief will only get 20 € from your account, probably not even worth to report to your bank.
- Organize your accounts. Store your savings on a main account (preferably geo-locked i.e. only accesible in your homecountry) and keep your withdrawal accounts almost empty. Transfer money from your main account to one of your withdrawal accounts shortly before you head out to withdraw cash. This will make abuse of your bank cards almost impossible.
As always you are very welcome to leave additions/suggestions/opinions in the comments!
Previous: Personal home concerns
Next: Keeping in touch