Leaving the Country for Vacation? Here Are 5 Tips to Protect Your Money

June 12, 2020

You’re taking off for an adventure abroad – yay! In between packing up your suitcase with all of your essentials and putting together your itinerary, you’ll want to be sure to take the time to properly prepare and secure your funds while you’re traveling. Take a look at our top five tips for protecting your money while out of the country.

1. Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Companies

Keep your banks and credit card companies in the loop on your travels. Tony Rasmussen, vice president of public relations and financial education at Mountain America Credit Union, recommends that the first thing you do is call your bank and credit card companies. “Let them know you’re going on vacation so they don’t block your card thinking someone else is using it. Speaking of thieves, be smart about how you carry money – cash and cards – on yourself. Split your money up. Put some money inside a concealed pocket in your clothing and put the rest in your shoe.”

“Don’t forget to password protect your devices and set up two-step verification on financial sites. If a thief gets access to your phone or laptop, you don’t want them to be able to access your financial apps or personal information. Also, always be extra alert in crowds. You may be on vacation, but pickpocketers never are. They’re drawn to touristy crowds and are on the lookout for anyone who’s distracted, so don’t make yourself an easy target.”

“Another little tip: don’t carry all your money at once. Take only what you plan on spending and maybe a little more in case of an emergency. That way, if you are mugged or somehow misplace your wallet, you’re only out $50 or one credit card instead of hundreds of dollars and every card you own.”

2. Be Smart About ATMs

People who want to take advantage of tourists are very good at what they do. In fact, thieves have been known to place fake ATM machines in high-tourist traffic areas. Be smart and intentional about where and how you choose to withdraw cash while traveling abroad. Consider using an ATM locator to find real ATM machines, or choose to exclusively use the machines at the airport, at your hotel, or that are near banks. 

3. Thin Out Your Wallet

We all have things in our wallet that aren’t needed when traveling abroad. If your wallet is weighed down by grocery store rewards cards, gift cards, or any unnecessary ID cards or extra credit cards, consider removing them for your travels. Keep only the bare minimum of debit cards, credit cards, and identification, or transfer all of your essentials to a travel wallet. This will help you to stay discreet while withdrawing cash or making purchases.

4. Use Mobile Payment Options

Depending on where you’re traveling to and where you’re making purchases, you might have the option of using mobile payment options. These programs, such as Apple Pay, are a fantastic resource for staying safe with your money while traveling abroad. You are much less likely to accidentally share confidential information when using these kinds of payment options, and they eliminate the need to pull out your wallet and draw attention to yourself.

5. Research Your Destination

As you plan out your vacation and put together an itinerary, take the time to research the countries and attractions you’ll be visiting. If you are going anywhere where there are commonly large crowds of people or places where people are commonly pick-pocketed, you will want to go in with an extra dosage of caution and awareness. Thieves take advantage of people who are distracted and unaware of their surroundings, so do everything you can to be prepared.

As you get ready to take off for your adventure, be sure to take the time to prepare yourself and your money to stay protected. Alert your banks and credit unions, educate yourself on where you’re visiting, and be safe on your travels. 

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