Money Tips for International Travel


A passport laying on a table next to a brown wallet with American dollars and European euros.
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What you need to know about credit cards, cash exchanges and keeping your money safe while visiting another country.

After postponing vacations due to COVID, many folks are once again exploring the world. Consider these financial trips for international travelers before you book your next trip.

Notify your bank and credit card company

Financial institutions continuously monitor transactions for fraud. If your debit, credit or ATM card is suddenly used in a foreign country, it could raise a red flag and possibly result in a frozen account.

Notify your bank and credit card issuers that you’ll be traveling. Discover how to place a Travel Notice on your Consumers accounts.

Currency exchange

When you land at an international airport, you’ll often see currency exchange services at a desk or kiosk. There are two disadvantages to these services. First, you have to carry cash for the exchange, and it could be lost or stolen along the way. Second, even if you get a favorable exchange rate, you’ll have to pay sizeable fees.

Another way to get local currency is to withdraw cash at an ATM. You’ll likely have an out-of-network fee, but will likely be lower than that charged by an exchange service.

Use a credit card with low or no foreign transaction fees

Using credit cards makes purchases easy when you’re abroad. Some cards impose an average foreign transaction fee of 3%. Consumers credit cards feature a foreign transaction fee of only 2.00%.

Carry money and cards in multiple places

Savvy travelers don’t carry all their money and cards in one place. Instead, they split money and cards between a secure pocket or handbag and someplace concealed like a hotel safe or a money belt.

Don’t make it easy for thieves

Unfortunately, travelers are often targets for thieves. In addition to not storing your money in a single location, here are a few other tips to help you be less vulnerable:

  • Conceal your valuables — back pockets and unzipped bags are an easy target.
  • Leave valuables in your hotel room safe.
  • Be wary of commotion. Thieves can sometimes use a diversion tactic to create opportunities for theft.
  • If you see a sign that reads “beware of thieves” avoid touching the place where you stash your wallet or money. These signs can be posted by thieves who use your gestures as indicators to your valuables.
  • Don’t leave valuables like wallets, phones or cameras on tables where they can be snatched as someone walks by.

Plan ahead with these money tips to help minimize costs of using foreign currency and the risk of theft so you can more fully enjoy your trip.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 131,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want.

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  1. Rachel says:

    Might be handy if you post on whether or not you can order currency before you travel. And if so, what are the fees and how long does it take. Thanks!

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