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7 Money Tips for Savvy Travelers

by Laura Adams

Whether you travel for work or pleasure, there are some great ways to manage money while you’re on the road. No matter if you’re jet-setting around the Mediterranean or stuck in a small town motel—if you have an Internet connection and an online banking account, you can take care of your finances. Plus, there are some smart preparations you can make before you leave home so you don’t have to worry about your money while you’re away.

Here are 7 money tips for how to handle your money before, during, and after your trip:

Travel Tip #1: Research Local Currency

If you’re traveling outside the country, be sure to research the currency where you plan to travel. You should know the commonly accepted methods of payment, whether ATMs are typically available, and the current currency conversion. You can learn more about international travel at the U.S. Department of State’s web site, travel.state.gov.

Travel Tip #2: Exchange Money Before You Go

If you’re leaving the country, it’s smart to exchange a small amount of money before you take off. Fees to convert currency are steep in airports and hotels, so having some local currency for meals, tips, and transportation will help you save money and be prepared to navigate a new environment. The easiest way to purchase foreign currency is to buy it online. Wells Fargo has a Currency Shopping Cart and delivers right to your doorstep.

Travel Tip #3: Make Backup Copies of Important Documents

It’s a good idea to have digital copies of important documents stored online, so you could access them from any computer with an Internet connection. Depending on where you’re going, consider scanning the following:

  • passport
  • driver’s license
  • international driver’s license
  • credit cards
  • medical or vaccination records
  • health insurance
  • travel itinerary

You can upload these documents to a free storage account like dropbox.com or mediafire.com and then remove them when you’re home. Also make paper copies to leave at home or with a relative or trusted friend.

Travel Tip #4: Use Online Bill Pay

Don’t miss a bill due date and risk taking a hit to your credit or having to pay a late fee. Instead, set up your bills to pay automatically while you’re gone by using a free online bill pay service. Most banks and many credit unions offer this convenient and money-saving godsend!

Travel Tip #5: Use a Credit Card

Never carry more than $300 in cash at any time. It’s much safer to travel with a credit card or two than a wad of cash that could easily be stolen. If a thief gets your credit card, the card company can suspend the account and send you a replacement card overnight. As long as you report a stolen card right away, your maximum liability for unauthorized use is just $50. If you report the theft before any misuse occurs, your liability is $0.

You may find it beneficial to use Travel Rewards Credit Cards or Airline Miles Credit Cards when you travel so you can earn more rewards and receive travel perks or avoid foreign transaction fees. Most major credit card issuer have at least one travel credit card which does not charge foreign transaction fees.

Travel Tip #6: Communicate With Your Credit Card Company

If you plan on using a credit card during your trip, be sure to let the card company know your itinerary. If they don’t know that you will be making charges from an unusual location, their fraud detection department may flag your account for suspicious activity and freeze it. Notifying your credit card company before you begin your travel can help you avoid credit card problems while traveling.

If you’re leaving the country, remember that 800 numbers only work in the U.S. and Canada. So be sure to get your credit card company’s local, non-800 number so you could contact them quickly in an emergency.

Travel Tip #7: Review Your Credit Card Statement

While you’re away, be diligent about tucking away receipts in a special pouch or envelope. Then be sure to review your credit card statement carefully and match each receipt to the transactions on your statement to make sure all the charges are accurate.

If you follow these 7 money tips for travelers, you’ll save money, stay organized, be prepared for any calamity, and have a great trip!


Published or updated August 9, 2011.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alysa@impulsesave.com

Don’t forget to look into what banks abroad are partnered with your bank! For example, Barclay’s in the UK is linked with Bank of America, so withdrawals aren’t associated with fees! Withdrawal fees are the worst.

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2 krantcents

One of the best exchange rates is at banks and available using your ATM. Check with your bank to find their correspondent bank in the countries you are visiting. I did not have to pay added fees.

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3 Pat S

Credit cards are king. Not only are you protected from fraud, but you usually get the best exchange rates. American Express/ Visa/ MasterCard… Don’t leave the states without at least one of them…

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