10 Tips to Prepare Your Finances before International Travel

Probably the easiest thing that you can do while planning a holiday is fixing your destination! National destinations can go off smoothly due to the feeling of belonging but with international destinations I have experienced an additional planning factor, that of ‘getting most for the money’. Even a decade back I had carried travelers’ cheque with me. Not anymore! Cheques have almost become redundant and may become extinct very soon. Credit cards have come as instant solution to most travelers.

The biggest advantage of course is the ease with which we can do bulk purchase of air tickets. In addition to that we can pay off hotel bills and car rentals, which most often require huge money transactions. Since huge money transactions are involved it would be wise check out some important facts about the dealing with your banker. So before you get a credit card issued for traveling it is necessary to keep some basic practical important factors in mind. Prepare your finances before International Travel.

Euros Prepare your finances

Prepare Your Finances before International Travel.

  1. Get a foreign currency friendly credit card. This is important because some credit cards charge a foreign currency transaction fee. Check the bank in the foreign country where you are doing the transaction. The bank where the ATM is located can charge service fee.
  2. Before you set off for the journey let your credit card issuer know the dates and places of travel. This will help them enable their system so that sudden huge transactions don’t trigger their fraud alert system. Most often this situation arises when hotels, car rentals put hold on your credit card. They do remove the hold after the bill has been paid. Check if there is any limit on international spending with the credit card issued.
  3. And most important don’t change currency at airport. Carry sufficient loose change to enable you reach your hotel or your place of stay.
  4. Make sure your PIN is a foreign country friendly one. You may find your card with longer PINs handicapped because many foreign machines don’t accept cards more than 4 digits PINs.
  5. Verify and confirm with your issuer which fees will apply to your transactions. Rules change fast and we realized what was valid in 2011 summers wasn’t valid in 2012 summers. So it is always better to check with your issuer about any change in policies.
  6. In spite of all planning just as you tend to overspend, there are journeys when you bring back the unspent Euros. Couple of times I have faced this situation. Nobody wants to be in a cash strapped situation that too in a foreign land. And I have brought back the credit card home laden with Euros. The gnawing fear always remained whether I would get the best deal for Euro to INR conversion. Since I had plans for a foreign travel again I saved them up for next holidays.
  7. Now, the second situation of no planned foreign travel calls for good amount of research. Hoarding the saved Euros will be a loss and you may have to sell them offline or online. Check out the several rates being offered by the different issuers. Undoubtedly the conversion factor will hit your transactions. But how drastically you will be hit depends how much of market study you have done. Again this factor too keeps changing and depends mostly on length of travel. So keep in mind the travel duration and the possibilities of market rate fluctuations.
  8. During my study I got a whole range of issuers offering different deals. Take care to read between the lines of each of them. Some charge you in dollars rather than in local currency. If your purchase is in dollars chances are your conversion fees may get waived off. So check which currency to choose to make the purchase.
  9. Another rare situation that can arise during travels is being charged twice for the same transaction or being charged for something you haven’t purchased. Check with your issuer if they retain the credit card imprints; you can get back and compare. The issuer should be able to help in the dispute of such overcharges.
  10. Finally, it is good to carry more than one credit card and keep them in separate places in case of pickpocket. And if you are doing so, note down their international customer care phone numbers.

I faced some of these situations during my travels and I have followed some of these rules religiously while making my travel plans. Do let me know through your comments if you have some more tips.

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51 Responses to “10 Tips to Prepare Your Finances before International Travel

  • Such a useful and practical post. You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel, but financial planning is an integral part of the process and where would be without that?

  • Very well written will surely help many plan their travels

  • Very useful information.

  • Prepaid Forex cards are also good. Discovered that only on the last trip.

  • Nice, useful tips.

  • Very useful information.It is a must read for those travelling abroad.
    I also want to add, please plan for day to day if using credit cards during the trip and have enough currency in the form of small change handy .
    One thing I would like to add is that when on a tour keep some coins in local currency always on hand. Washrooms abroad in many places charge, and not having small change causes a lot of discomfort. (Recently visited Antwerp from Amsterdam , on their National day and everything was closed, not a place open to exchange larger amount for 50 cent coins . Fortunately a noble Indian soul sensed our predicament and changed it for Indian rupees we had. It was so embarrassing.

    • Indrani Ghose
      1 year ago

      Wow, he was God sent! You are lucky.
      Yes better to be prepared with small change.

  • Really helpful 🙂

  • Great tips! Very practical.
    Where are you up to this time.

  • Great tips. A very informative post.

  • the post teaches me something i quite unaware or had any idea! thanks for the info

  • Maniparna Sengupta Majumder
    1 year ago

    Very informative, Indrani. I was not really aware of all the points you have discussed here. Thanks for the useful post… 🙂

  • Immensely used post. Thanks and compliments.

  • These are all practical and sensible tips. Who would want to get stuck in a foreign country without cash or a complication related to currency. Yes we ensure we are covered with adequate foreign currency and have card with the appropriate currency.

  • These are the things we should take care before leaving the country.
    Great tips and a very informative post.

  • That’s a comprehensive list…I would recommend people to bookmark this one, if heading for foreign travel.

  • Very helpful tips, Indrani.

  • Great post. I definitely agree with not exchanging foreign currency at the airport. We usually check the best rate from various money changers days before leaving. We often avoid changing currency at the country of destination. We also noticed booking hotels online are often cheaper than booking them directly. We try to avoid owning a credit card so we use a prepaid card instead that we can recharge for online purchases for hotels, airline and train tickets.

  • Very useful tips! I never even thought there would be a difference in the number of characters that are acceptable for a PIN. Good to know that this should be checked out beforehand.

  • It’s amazing how far your $$ can stretch with a bit of planning. It looks like you’ve thoughtfully laid out your tips from your experiences. Interesting about the PIN situation. Some countries also have cash cards you can preload with $$.

  • I never thought of foreign currency friendly credit card,I should check this one. I love reading thsi kind of article when it comes to money, as I am not vocal about it, so, I find it more satisfying if I read some. 🙂 good tips by the way

  • These are awesome tips, really well written & researched. Any traveller, old or new, can find something to take away from this, we all constantly need to be reminded to take precautions with money when traveling.

  • I feel more confident travelling with credit card even without much cash on hand. Sometimes i prefer to swipe my cc rather than use my debit card. But bringing one card is very risky so better bring 5 cards if you have

  • Very helpful tips, I would surely check all this when planning my next international travel. International transaction friendly card is surely something we must avail, since it involves spending lot of money and international currency.

  • Budgeting and planning are very important before embarking for a trip. Thank you for this tips, for sure, I’ll visit this post again as I am planning a 14-day solo trip to Southeast Europe

  • Great tips! Totally agree on never changing money at the airport. In Europe, I just bring my card and pay with it or withdraw at local ATMs. It’s worked best for me in the past few years. I sometimes have some cash, but very little. If it’s a road trip, I do have coins for the bathroom breaks at the gas stations 😀 You need to pay a small fee to use bathroom in most EU gas stations. I’ve seen that in Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Belgium.

  • Thanks for the tips, my family will be traveling internationally this spring for our birthdays and I hadn’t even thought of this!

  • Point # 4 is a pain – especially in the more advanced countries. 🙂 Its like Black & White TV, we dont see them in India, but in US there are still some old-timers who stick to their old black and white tvs.

  • Sometimes however it can happen that your ATM card doesn’t work at all in a specific country. I’ve had that experience in Brazil (my card was issued in Qatar) and although I’ve notified my bank that Im going there and later told them about the issue, it just couldn’t get resolved.

    For some reason I was still able to pay with my card and I started using it to pay for others’ expenses and then they gave me cash. A creative solution to getting hard currency in a tough situation 🙂

  • Really wish I had the discipline to be able to make more of my savings but these tips really are useful. I like your narration style as well but having been forced to cut short a few trips due to money issues, I can totally emphasis. Really top tips and will certainly employ them in an effort to save for my next adventure!

  • A really usefull list 🙂
    I would add one though. That is to always check which card providers that are accepted in the country that you visit. Visa or Mastercard is sometimes promoted in certain countries and having the wrong one can result in higher service fees. We had that issue in The Gambia where transactions with Mastercard was subject to a fee and not the ones done with a Visa card.

  • These are excellent tips. Carrying cash and cards in separate places has saved us a few times. Excellent tip on the PINs as well. I had never through of that.

  • Thank you for this blog. I have only recently started traveling International. (Till now I was blowing all my money on travel within India). This was the information I was looking for. Thanks for proving all the information under one roof.

  • Interesting post thank you. Apart from ATMs and credit cards etc, many developing countries are cash base society (like Laos and Timor-Leste), many hotels and restaurants don’t take card. So getting cash is important before you get there. Ideally, US dollars which is readily accepted upfront or can be exchanged easily.

  • Such a descriptive and informative post. Will keep in mind for our next travel. Thanks for sharing this

  • Great tips. These will come in very handy for our next couple of trips. We usually use our regular cards – which do have fees, but are so minor that we don’t worry too much. Or we bring cash in the currency we need.

  • Really useful info here – thanks. Often we get so caught up in the excitement of travel that we forget the essential things like this!

  • These are some really sensible and practical tips for financially being prepared for an International Travel. There is a lot of change and technology has fuelled convenience. Plastic has replaced cash and brought convenience to our fingertips.

  • These tips may seem trivial until we actually travel out of the country. Carrying credit cards actually turn out to be very helpful when spending in foreign currency. Agree with you on not exchanging in airport and about the pins this was something new and important. Thanks for sharing.

  • Indrani, this seems like one of the most important posts in travel blogging. International finances are something that we all should take care of. Can’t you keep the Euros for further travel later on??

  • Indrani, thank you for the detailed post about managing finances while traveling. I personally am very averse to credit cards but if I ever use credit cards it will only be travel related. And your posts opened my eyes towards a lot of things to checkout before getting one. Yes, and never exchange currency at the airport. I think its something we all end doing and learning from. 😀

  • Good solid tips. Although there may be other tips that could come in handy, I think you covered the basics really well. In fact, some of the tips, including calling the credit card company to let them flag you for travel, that I only learned after reading this post. 🙂

  • Shane Prather
    1 year ago

    Great tips! I once forgot my pin while in Europe and was stuck unable to get any money from the ATM,. I realized how important it is to have a backup plan!

  • This is really helpful, Indrani! Will bookmark this one since I am currently planning for my trips abroad for next year. Great post!

  • Thanks for these tips. I’ve yet to travel aborad and yes these paperworks and fnances are my biggest worry. With someday we will have a simpler world where everyone follows the same rules and one currency.

  • Nika - nextstopabroad.com
    1 year ago

    great reminders before my first BIG trip to the Asia. I am heading to Thailand soon so definitely will let my bank know to not to freeze my money.
    Thank you!

  • Brown Gal Trekker
    1 year ago

    Very useful tips. The money part is one of the most important to prep for and your advise certainly helps summarize the major ways to be prepared!

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