When you picture your dream vacation, where do you go? Do you lay on the beach in Mexico? Climb the Alps in Switzerland, go fishing in Canada or explore the amazing wildlife of Australia? Do you see the Great Wall in China or travel on safari in Africa? Any of these exciting adventures could make for the trip of a lifetime but all of them require international travel, meaning you have to be smart with your money and prepare ahead of time. Follow these tips for before you leave and upon your arrival and the trip of a lifetime will be there waiting for you to enjoy it.
1. Get a chip card
Before you start packing for your international trip, take a peek inside your wallet. Does your credit card have a chip? If you don’t know, check with your bank to see if they have chip cards. Chip-enabled cards are designed to help reduce fraud and are the most convenient and safe option for cashless travel outside the U.S. There are two types of chip cards. Chip-PIN cards require you set a PIN for extra security. When traveling, you will most likely insert your card into a reader where you may be prompted for your PIN, so make sure you know how to “dip” your chip before leaving. Meanwhile chip-signature cards are also available but they may not work at all unattended automated kiosks. Make sure you know what card you have and how to use it properly.
2. Don’t get declined, share your itinerary
Let your bank know when and where you’re traveling to help prevent international activity from triggering fraud alerts. You don’t want that romantic meal on the beach spoiled when your card gets turned down. If your bank offers the service, ask to set fraud alerts by email or texts sent to your phone. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that unauthorized charges can be quickly caught.
3. Budget with prepaid
If traveling on a budget, consider using a prepaid card to manage your spending. Just keep in mind that you’ll only have access to the amount you load it with. And if you’re visiting different countries, check out MasterCard’s Cash Passport. You can load multiple currencies onto this one prepaid card. To get one, go to www.cashpassport.com
Upon arrival follow these practices:
4. Cheap cash
Once you land, you may need some cash for little things like tips, food or drinks. ATMs are generally the cheapest and most convenient way to get the local currency and finding an ATM is easy using the MasterCard Nearby App. This app provides you the locations of millions of ATMs as well as a list of merchants who accept contactless devices.
5. Know your currency conversion choices
Finally, some merchants and hotels may ask you at the register or check out if you’d like to be charged in either your home currency or the local currency. It’s important to know your options. Research shows that you generally get a better exchange rate and lower fees when paying in local currency. If you chose to pay with the home currency, there might be a foreign transaction fee, a conversion rate and additional fees from the merchants for the convenience of exchanging to your home currency at the point of sale. Some banks waive the conversion fee for their cards and you should see if yours does before you leave. The choice is yours, but understanding the fees first will prevent you from overpaying.
That’s it, five money tips to keep in mind when traveling internationally. Now what are you waiting for? Go ahead and pack already… the trip of a lifetime is just a few checkpoints away. For more information visit mastercard.newsroom.com. BPT