If you’ve planned your next trip abroad and are preparing to jet off on an amazing adventure, there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing a lot of your hard-earned cash with you. Travelling is exciting, and wherever your next trip will take you, it is vital that you are well prepared and protected should something go wrong.
Travellers are often prime targets for thieves, as they carry a large amount of money and other valuables on them, and don’t know much about the local area. This guide covers everything you need to know about how to keep your money safe when travelling, and some top tips on how to protect yourself and your funds from criminals.
Choose credit over cash
Taking cash away with you can make it easy to stick to your budget and prevent you from overspending, but it is also much more dangerous. Cash is not replaceable, and if you get your bag stolen or lose it somewhere, you could easily have lost all your holiday funds with no way of getting it back.
Using a travel credit card during your trip might make it more tempting to overspend, but it also means you will be better protected if you do lose your purse or wallet while you are away. When you use a credit card, you won’t be liable for any unauthorised charges, so if someone else does get their hands on your card, you’re still protected.
Debit cards don’t offer the same protection as credit cards, and although your bank will refund you any fraudulent transactions, it often takes a few days for the money to be returned into your account. You should still bring some cash away with you, as it is useful to have for paying for things like taxis and bottles of water. Be careful how much you carry with you at any one time and try to use credit cards instead when you can.
Before heading off on your travels you should check what forms of payment are accepted in your destination. You might find your Discover Card is no good in certain countries, so be sure to have a credit card on you that will be accepted.
Stash your cash wisely
If you are bringing cash away with you, then be sensible about where you keep it while you are away. Don’t carry it all in your wallet, and instead stash it in various different places to protect yourself against theft. Keep some cash in your wallet, some hidden in your suitcase, and some in a safe in your accommodation, if there is one available.
It is also worth investing in a security belt with a hidden wallet to keep some cash well hidden and on you at all times, just in case the worst should happen.
If you are travelling to a particular area that is well-known for thefts and pick-pocketing, then bring a dummy wallet with you. Buy a cheap wallet before you leave, and stock it with a couple of small notes, expired cards and gift vouchers to make it look legit. This way, if you are approached by someone who asks you to hand over your wallet, you can give them the dummy and keep your real finances safe.
Keep copies of your account details
The first thing you should do if your wallet or purse is stolen when travelling abroad is report it to your bank or credit card provider so that they can block it immediately. If you don’t have access to your account details, then reporting the cards as lost or stolen can be a challenge.
Take copies of your debit and credit cards and note down your account numbers and phone numbers for your bank, just in case you need them during your trip. Keep these copies separate from your cards and keep an electronic record in your email inbox so you can access it anywhere with an internet connection.
It is vital that you password-protect electronic devices while you are away. If a thief gets their hands on your phone or laptop, they might get access to your banking apps and personal information.
Be savvy with ATMs and money changers
Many overseas locations will have unauthorised money changing services, that are well skilled at stealing some of your cash while you a making a foreign exchange. If you do need to change up money while you are away, only use trusted, authorised money change services.
You should also be careful when using ATMs abroad, as they can be fitted with skimming devices that criminals will use to collect your credit card information. Only use ATMs in secure locations that are covered by security cameras if you can, such as ATMs in shopping centres, hotels or banks.
Always choose highly visible ATMs and avoid any that are secluded or hidden away as these are often targets for thieves. An ATM that is difficult to see from nearby locations or busy streets make for the perfect circumstances for muggers to steal your money as you withdraw it.