I’ve often wondered what people do with their travel money when they travel; stick it all in a sock and hope for the best or lose all your money in bank fees. Mum and I got talking about this the other day as she’s going travelling around New Zealand next month for four weeks with her sister (and leaving me behind the meany!) and she was asking what was the best way to deal with her money.
You don’t want to get hit with hefty bank charges if you’re taking out money from ATMs constantly but likewise you don’t want to be walking around with all your cash thinking you’re a hip-hop gangsta dropping money everywhere So what do you do?
First things first, you need to sit down and look at your needs…
How long am I travelling for?
What does my bank offer?
How often will I be able to access an ATM?
How big is my budget?
What are the terms of your account?
One of the first things you need to do before travelling is to check if you have an international bank account i.e. does your bank work for you abroad? Will it charge you for every transaction you make on your card or will ATM withdrawals be free? You really need to check the terms and conditions of your account before you think about what to do with your money because those charges can soon add up and start eating into your budget before you even realise what’s going on!
I travelled to Africa and took my Lloyds TSB International debit card with me because I knew that I wasn’t going to get charged every time I tried to take my own money out of my account which, trust me, is a really crappy feeling if it ever happens…it’s YOUR money so it should be free to access wherever you are! Depending on your bank account, you may need to change it to find an account that works for you but most banks do all the hard work for you so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to organise; just allow yourself plenty of time.
I was only travelling for a little over 6 weeks in Africa so it made perfect sense to travel with my bank card because I knew I’d be protected if anything happened. The other aspect of having my bank card, which I loved, was that I was able to bank online which meant that I could check my ATM receipts against the transactions online to make sure everything was okay and would be able to spot any anomalies pretty easily. I had a worrying moment where I thought an ATM in Tanzania had charged me for withdrawing hundreds of pounds but didn’t give me the cash so I kept my receipt and was so relieved to be able to check and see that the transaction hadn’t been completed.
If you have the right kind of bank account, your bank should be able to help spot anything fraudulent too! If you tell them you’re going away, they should be able to make a note on your account so that they are aware your banking locations will change…something which is very important if you’re usually in the UK and suddenly taking money out in the middle of Malawi! Remember, however, that banks can still temporarily block your card if they feel something is wrong so make sure you have a little cash available for emergencies until you can contact them
This is the top reason I always try and take my bank cards (debit and credit) with me when I travel because at the end of the day, they offer far more financial and legal protection than a travel cash card could ever hope to do (despite what they sometimes promise). Bank cards are usually protected not just by the bank themselves but in some cases by the government as well.
In the UK, you have a certain amount of protection offered to you by the bank in case of problems but on your credit card, the Government as well as your bank can offer protection against companies going bust (if for example you booked your flights and the airline went bye-bye) and if you’re making big purchases on your cards, this can be a life saver!
All in all, taking your bank cards with you doesn’t have to cost you a chunk from your budget – you just need to be smart about your bank choice in the first place!
How do YOU travel with your money?