Time for that trip? Plan ahead for safer travels.
Sunglasses? Check. Flip flops? Check. You can almost feel that sun or hear those waves as you're getting ready for your upcoming vacation. Before you take off, make sure you've given your financial safety and spending plan as much consideration as your destination. Whether it's the sandy beaches of the Bahamas or the Gold Coast of Australia, traveling can pose some challenges and you don't want to have your good time dampened by unnecessary money hassles.
1. Tell Your Credit Union and Credit Card companies that you are Traveling
Prior to heading to the airport, it's wise to give the credit union and other credit card companies a call to let them know where you're heading and how long you will be there. The safety measures that identify and stop potentially fraudulent activity on your account may accidentally cancel a real transaction if the location isn't recognized. Your accounts can be updated so you can confidentially use your card in a new location.
2. Use Credit Cards and Bring a Backup Card
It is a good point to leave most of your cards at home with the exception of a couple: one main and one backup. Carry one card with you to use on your travel expenses and keep one safely stored as a backup just in case. This strategy will also help you track your purchases while making sure no fraudulent charges are made. Cards for department stores, shops, and other non-essentials should be left behind at home as they just become a liability on a trip.
When you're deciding which cards to take, keep in mind that some may charge foreign transaction fees that can add up. Also, come banks or credit unions won't charge fees on their cards, but you may still get a fee from Visa or Mastercard for the currency conversion. For example, FFCU does not charge for foreign transactions, but you may see a surcharge up to 1% of your transaction from Visa.
3. Stay Organized
Keeping track of your belongings and purchases is a must during your trip. Make a checklist of the items you packed giving high priority to any items such as cell phones and other high value items. Even the best of us can forget an item or two when packing to return home. Also, make sure you are not putting all your valuables in one bag. Separating valuable items reduces the risk if your bag is stolen.
Beyond keeping track of your luggage, monitoring your purchases and transactions will help keep eye on any suspicious activity. For instance, FFCU's mobile app allows you to keep track of all purchases and can alert you after each transaction.
4. Using Local Currency and Traveler's Checks
While carrying large amounts of cash is not a great idea, having some of the local currency on hand can be helpful. While most major stores and many local businesses will accept credit cards, there are some that may only accept paper. Just in case, look to obtain local currency from a trustworthy source such as a global bank ATM, usually attached to a local bank or credit union - sometimes labeled as cooperatives. Each place may have different exchange rates so it's a good idea to compare this prior to your trip.
5. Safeguard Your Identity
If you are a frequent traveler, signing up for ID protection is a beneficial addition. No matter how safe you are, thieves can still get a hold of your information and traveling frequently opens you up to more threats. Having a service such as ID Shield can monitor any attempts to use your personal information for nefarious purposes. If your identify is stolen, they have licensed private investigators on call to completely restore your identity. Think of ID protection as an insurance policy for your personal information.
If Things Do Go Wrong
As the old saying goes, "the best laid plans often go awry." If things do go bad it is good to immediately report it to the local authorities. This way there is official documentation on the incident which can aid in reporting it to your insurance company or identity protection agency. If something were to occur at the hotel you were visiting also make it a point to report any incidents to management. In any instance, the key is timely reporting of any incidents to the proper authorities.
In the end, properly preparing for a trip can make for an overall safe adventure. From all your friends at FFCU, happy travels in 2017 and beyond.