Money mismanagement and ridiculous exchange rates are probably the most vexing issues people face during international travel. By the time you’ve familiarized yourself with foreign currencies and compared the faces on the bank notes with those of most members of your family, you’ll realize you’re left with less than you thought you would be. Then begins the trying time to piece together all your receipts to follow the money trail, which almost always leads to careless spending and suspicious charges.
There are plenty of ways to keep better track of your expenditure and make sure you avoid all unnecessary charges to keep your finances in order. Here are the basics you should be aware of!
Passport? Check. Ticket? Check. Phone call to bank to make you’re heading out of the country? Uhhh… Make sure to call your bank and let them know you’re flying out so they don’t block your credit card. It will save you mustering up an excuse to explain why your card got declined and will ensure your trip starts out hassle-free!
Currency exchange counters at the airport are notorious for sky-high profit margins, so it is advised to change all your cash before you get there. It may not seem like much at the time, but even a 2% increase on the exchange rate will cost you. And don’t convert excess cash—chances are you won’t use it all and then you’ll be left with paying a bigger fee to convert the currency back!
If you’re someone who prefers to keep backup Plans B and C, then you might already know that many banks and credit card authorities now offer prepaid cards that are used just like debit cards. You can load them up with a set amount in the currencies of your choice and you can even lock in certain exchange rates to make sure you’re not paying more than you should. Very handy, too, when you need to keep within a budget.
Once you land, remember to distribute your cards and cash among your belongings. Don’t keep everything you have in your wallet, because if by some chance you misplace it, you lose all your money and identification too. Keep some in your pocket, stash some away in a safe place in your room somewhere unsuspected (but don’t get too creative lest you forget where you hid it in the first place!) Also make sure to not carry everything on your person when you’re out.
DCC is just a fancy term that refers to the conversion of your purchase from local currency to your home currency following a transaction. Seems harmless and plenty tempting because you find out how much you’ve actually spent in terms of your home currency, but retail outlets are infamous for hiking up exchange rates to unreasonable proportions. Avoid DCC at any cost and choose to do business in local currencies wherever possible.
It probably goes without saying, but do not use machines located in questionable locations. Foreign ATM machines also sometimes have different layouts so study the keypad carefully unless you want your card to be swallowed up because you entered the incorrect patterns… Not the most glorious tale to tell your friends back home. You should also make sure you know what fee your bank charges for international withdrawals.
Hopefully you’re better informed ahead of your next trip! You can also download apps to keep track of all your receipts if you are looking to be reimbursed by the office.