Don’t Get Stranded with No Money When Travelling

Stolen Cards and Cash While Traveling

If you are planning to travel make sure your money stays safe and available to you while you are on the road. Having your cash and cards stolen when you are away from home can be a nightmare. Discovering that you can’t use your cards when you reach your destination or while you are en route can be even more frustrating. Here are some tips for avoiding both disasters.

Notify Your Bank and Credit Cards Companies Before You Go

Call your bank and credit card companies before you go, or your cards may be declined. Many banks automatically put a freeze on cards when they suspect fraud. Activities that can trigger a freeze include:

  • A purchase away from your home town, even if it is a town nearby
  • A larger purchase normal for you
  • A large purchase certain types of items, such as jewelry or electronics
  • Small purchases in high crime areas

Know Your Limits and Be Aware of Authorizations

Even if you think you know your daily spending and cash advance limits, double check. They could have changed. And remember that authorizations count toward your limit and may not drop off quickly. Hotels and rental car companies may run an authorization for your deposit amount, tying that money up until they decide to release it.

Don’t Plan on Using Checks

If you are planning to take checks for backup, know that it may not work. Most stores use a third-party electronic check acceptance system. They can’t see if you have the money in the bank. Instead they look at various factors, including how much you have spent at that store in the past. Of course, when you are travelling, there’s a good chance you’ll be trying to shop in stores you don’t have at home. They may allow small purchases but will decline anything large because you have not yet established a spending history with the store. And that history doesn’t go back as far as you expect. Even if it’s a store you normally frequent when travelling, if it’s been a year since you last wrote a check to them, you may not exist in their system.

Be Prepared to Lose Your Wallet and/or Your Phone

If your wallet is stolen or lost, you need a way to notify your card companies and you need some way to pay for things. Write down the phone numbers from the backs of your cards and store that list, plus at least one backup card in a separate place.

Be Smart About ATMs

Stick to ATMs that are attached to banks whenever possible. Shield the keypad when you enter your PIN, even if no one is around. Scammers use cameras for that now.

Turn on Account Alerts

Turn on your account alerts so that you instantly get emails or texts that let you know when someone makes a charge to your account. This will let you know right away if someone has skimmed your card or gotten your number, and you won’t have to be constantly logging in and checking your account.

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