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How to be smart with your money abroad

Travelling abroad can be fun but it’s important to be smart with your money.

Whether you’re trekking in Thailand or skiing in Switzerland, there’s always the potential for surprise expenses and nasty scams.

To help you make the most of your next trip, we’ve compiled 5 travel money tips on how to be smart with your money abroad. 

1. Let your bank know about your travel plans

If you’re planning a trip, it’s always worthwhile letting your financial service institution know about your plans before you go—particularly if you don’t go away very often. Transactions abroad can throw up an instant red flag, which might lead to your bank deciding to freeze your account. You definitely don’t want this while you’re paying for a local bite in-between sightseeing!

2. Be savvy with exchange rates

If you have a clear idea of where you’re heading, it’s always worth being aware of the local currencies and exchange rates. This way, you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect when you’re exchanging and spending money. For the best exchange rates, change your currency before you leave your home turf. 

3. Budget, budget, budget

It’s amazing how quickly we can become swayed by the ‘you only live once’ mindset when travelling abroad. But don’t get carried away! Create a realistic travel budget and stick to it. Include everything from day-to-day expenses on food, transport and accommodation to last-minute excursion costs. Numbeo has a really useful Cost of Living Index guide to help you get an estimate of how much things cost in your destination. 

4. Change your mobile phone plan

Thanks to social media, many of us are using our phones more often. It’s therefore really important to call your mobile phone provider to set up an international phone and data plan so you don’t get a nasty shock when your monthly phone bill arrives! It might cost you a little extra but trust us, it’s worth it to avoid those hefty international roaming charges. If you’re planning to stay abroad for a long time, it might be worth looking into swapping your SIM card for a local SIM card for convenience and cost efficiency.

5. Be smart with those ATMs

As we previously mentioned, the most cost-effective way to get your local currency is by exchanging before you go. But if you have to use the ATMs, be aware of the hefty transaction fees that can occur and follow our smart and savvy ATM tips…

  1. Only use ATMs in languages that you understand.
  2. Use reputable ATMs only. To be ultra-safe, pick ATMs that belong to banks.
  3. Stay alert when using an ATM and if you feel uneasy, just walk away.
  4. Withdraw cash in daylight hours only to avoid a (very) sticky situation if the ATM eats your card.
  5. Inspect the ATM for a card skimmer/shimmer. This helpful guide tells you how to spot and avoid credit card skimmers and shimmers

Now that you know how to be smart with your money abroad, stay safe and have fun!

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2022-08-22

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