Planning to go on vacation anytime soon? You might’ve assumed it’ll be easy to pay for everything by credit card, but sometimes plastic isn’t the best choice when it comes to convenience and safety. Besides, who wants to pay all of those foreign transaction fees? Before you get to the airport, check out these 5 tips for traveling abroad that will save you a bunch of money.
1. Use a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Free
You might have already considered buying an international data plan for your phone. But, did you consider whether your credit cards will see you through abroad?
Even if you’ve already got a few credit cards sitting in your wallet, they might not be the best ones to use when traveling. Instead, you should open an account for a card that comes with international travel perks like zero foreign transaction fees, concierges, and the ability to earn rewards points overseas.
If you do end up using a credit card that charges transaction fees, you’ll be charged 2-3% extra on every purchase you make. So, if you’re planning to take a vacation, a travel credit card is one of the best investments you can choose to make.
2. If You’re Worried About Fraud, Use Cash
Credit card frauds can happen to anyone, anywhere. But, it’s something you’ll want to avoid on while you are on vacation. It’s great to use a credit card for travel-related expenses like hotels and car rental, but for smaller purchases cash is king.
Cash is the perfect option to choose to avoid becoming a victim of theft. Quite often, foreign restaurants and shops don’t have the most secure systems, so it’s better to pay with cash. If you’re adamant about paying on a card, choose a credit card rather than debit card, as credit cards offer protection against stolen purchases. If the theft happens to your debit account, it’s much harder to get the money back.
3. Look for the Best Exchange Rate
It might be super accessible to get your currency exchanged at the airport, but you’ll pay for that convenience by getting a less favorable exchange rate. Avoid any currency exchange that screams ‘tourist’ as they sometimes add additional fees.
Instead, one of the best places to get local currency is from an ATM. You’ll probably get the best exchange rate, as well as convenience. You still might get charged for withdrawing money from an ATM though. However, the best way to keep charges low is to withdraw a larger amount. More trips to the ATM equals more banking fees.
4. Tell Your Bank and Credit Card Companies You Are on Vacation
Before you leave, make sure you contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know where you are traveling to and how long for. You might be able to do this through your online banking, or if not, call them instead. This will protect you from your bank declining and potentially block your card. If you fail to let them know, your bank might assume the charges on your card are theft and leave you without cash while you are on vacation.
5. Don’t Over-Tip
Now that you’ve put a lot of effort into avoiding fees and finding the best exchange rate, don’t waste your money by paying American-sized tips. This won’t make you appear stingy. Generally, servers, bartenders, and other service industry workers in different countries are usually paid more than their American counterparts.
In some foreign restaurants, you might find service charge already added to your bill. So, make sure you check before you add another tip. In most European countries it’s normal to round the tip up to the nearest even number or leave 5% of the total.