Planning a foreign trip is both exciting and fulfilling at the same time. After all, it is the culmination of your hard work and commitment at work. It is an experience that can break the monotony of daily routine and also give more meaning to your life. Imagine visiting a foreign land, soaking up in a new culture and trying out new cuisines. The mere idea can bounce you off the walls.
However, planning an international trip requires some serious work. You need to meticulously plan the itinerary and arrange for your travel and stay. You may have to make further arrangements if you are travelling with a child or an elderly person. Another crucial aspect is managing your expenses. With just a little oversight or over-enthusiastic shopping, your finances can go astray. Furthermore, currency conversions and foreign transaction fee can topple your budget. You can follow these tips to keep your expenses in check.
Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fee
Using your credit card is certainly more convenient than carrying cash. Credit cards are safe and easy to carry. However, most credit cards will charge you a fee for every purchase that you make in a foreign land. This surcharge is called the foreign transaction fee. It ranges between 1-3% of your bill and can significantly increase the prices. This fee is not for currency conversion but is applicable for any kind of payment made outside the United States. It is advisable to check with your bank about this fee before you set off for your travel. If your agreement requires you to pay this fee, you can get another credit card with no foreign transaction fee.
Avoid cash advances APR
Use your debit card instead of credit card for withdrawing money from ATMs abroad. Using a credit card will attract exorbitant interest rates. While you may get a month of interest-free credit, cash advances start accruing from the moment of your transaction. Besides, you will have to pay a usage fee for using the ATM of a different bank. Similar to credit cards, debit cards also attract a foreign transaction fee. It is advisable to enquire about it and avoid this surcharge.
Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion
While on the trip, you may come across several merchants who will show the final price in US dollars. While it may sound more convenient, be aware that there is a hefty exchange rate associated with it. The merchant may tell you that there is no conversion fee but the exchange rate will considerably inflate your final bill. Merchants earn a commission through such transactions and may try extra to convince you. To avoid this, you can pay your bills in the local currency.
Inform your bank before your travel
Bank fraud isn’t uncommon and any un-notified foreign transactions can flag the bank officials. They may try contacting you and after failed attempts to do so, they may even suspend your card. It is advisable to inform your bank of your foreign travel to avoid such unpleasant scenarios. Do not forget to take an emergency contact number that you can call for assistance. Also, take the 4 digit pin-number as other forms of payment cards may not be accepted in some countries.
Learn about the Travel Assistance Programs
A vast majority of cards offer benefits such as travel accident insurance and car rental damage protection. Some cards also allow access to medical and legal facilities. You may speak with a customer service executive to know more about these details.
Use Visa or MasterCard cards
Unlike in the US, your American Express card may not get accepted in other countries. Visa and MasterCard have a much wider network and are more convenient on foreign trips.
Carry your passport
Most European countries have restricted the usage of magnetic strip cards to avoid frauds. It is advisable to carry your passport and avoid any problems while paying your bills.
You cannot truly enjoy your international trip if you are constantly worrying about the conversion rates and bank fees. With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy your international trips and also keep a check on your budget.