Guest blog – Bessie Hassan | Money Expert at finder.com.au
Whether you’re travelling for work or leisure, heading overseas can be exciting, but it can also be draining on your hip pocket. From currency conversion fees to expensive accommodation to “tourist taxes”, it can be easy to lose sight of how much you’re spending when you’re busy immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of a new destination.
Tourists are often an easy target for financial scams or fraud, so it’s important to keep your wits about you and to think carefully about how you’re spending your funds. Beyond this, you need to be cautious when managing your money so that you don’t wind up paying excessive fees, taxes or other unnecessary charges during your trip.
Keep the following in mind next time you jetset overseas to ensure that you remain in control of your funds at all times.
Weigh up your travel money options
Before you head abroad, consider the money options available and decide which one will work best for you. For instance, you may want to opt for a prepaid travel money card if you want to lock in a competitive exchange rate, whereas a travel credit card may be suitable if you want to earn rewards points as you spend.
Pay attention to the support currencies available on the card and any product fees that may apply, such as loading fees, currency conversion fees or annual fees (which can be as high as $250 for some travel credit cards).
Finding the right travel money option for your trip will ensure that you’re using the best product for your situation and that you’re not paying for features that you won’t use. For instance, there’s no point signing up for a platinum travel credit card and paying a high annual fee if you’re not going to take advantage of earning rewards as you spend.
Let your bank know of your travel plans
It’s worth letting your bank know that you’re heading overseas. This will help you avoid your card being frozen due to suspicious activity in another country (which often indicates to the bank that your card may have been stolen). You can do this online via your bank’s website or you can call them direct.
Don’t pay the “tourist tax”
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re overseas, but you need to keep your wits about you, especially when visiting major tourist attractions or areas. For instance, think twice before dining in the central business district (CBD) of a city as prices will be inflated. Also, don’t pay for a hire car or accommodation at the airport or hotel as this is likely to be more expensive.
A little common sense never goes astray when it comes to managing your funds abroad.
Don’t fall victim to foreign ATM fees
When you’re in a different country, chances are you won’t know where your nearest bank-branded ATM is located. As a result, it’s likely that you’ll head to a foreign ATM machine, withdraw your funds and cop a withdrawal fee.
Generally, withdrawal fees for non-customers range from $1-$2.50 per transaction, which may not seem like much but it can add up over time.
Paying global ATM withdrawal fees is money down the drain, so try to avoid it at all costs. You can do this by checking if your bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance or otherwise seeing which partner ATMs you can use overseas.
Keep an eye on your bank statements
Regularly review your transaction summary statements online during your trip. Make sure each transaction seems accurate and if you notice anything unusual, notify your bank immediately. As a tourist, you’re a target for financial scams so you need to keep your wits about you.
Heading overseas can be an enriching experience, but it can also be costly if you don’t correctly prepare. Comparing your travel money options, notifying your bank of your travel plans and avoiding the “tourist tax” are just some of the ways you can ensure your next trip is a success.