Ask the right questions to your bank.
- Tell them the exact days you are going to be overseas and any countries you will be in. This will not keep them from shutting off your card… as we have found but makes it less likely. Ensure they put this note on every card that you might use. Be sure to bring back up cards.
- Ask them if they have any sister banks in your countries of travel. I know in France there is BNP which is a sister bank of Bank of America, so they do not charge BOA travelers there a fee to take out money. BNL is the BOA sister bank in Italy. There are more…
- Ask about the different fees on your different cards in different situations. For example, if we needed cash we used our debit as our credit card charges a big premium. BUT, if we went out to eat, our credit card was cheaper (probably has more security on it too).
Fees could include:
- Conversion fee 1-3%
- ATM retrieval fee $5-40ish per take out from an atm.
In our experience, we found it best to go to an ATM of our sister bank and take out as much cash as possible. If it is a sister bank, there is no fee per take out but still we were afraid of taking money out too many times, in turn making them freeze our cards. We then stashed most of it in our hotel. This also means we can take a certain amount per day and keep us on a budget. Cash is accepted everywhere (more places than credit card) in most countries.
- Ask what your limit for taking out is in 24h, then see what that is in the local currency. That lets you know how much you can take out in a day. You may want to raise it if its super small (less than 300). Also, this way you know not to request more than this limit, that way you lower your risk of getting your card frozen. Couples with joint accounts know that your limits are separate, yay!
Get Currency Pre-Trip
What else?: Other financial todos/notes…
- Take at least two photocopies of your passports, drivers license and credit cards you are taking with you. Store these in two different places in your luggage or on your person. This way if something gets lost you have copies and can report them lost with the exact information.
- If you have a credit/debit pin code over 4 digits, go and change it to 4. They do not accept more than 4 digits in most countries (especially Europe).
- For Americans in Europe, your card will not be usable at all places as European cards have a chip. So notabley at the train/metro station, unless you go to a person teller. So when ordering train tickets online, make sure you can go to a teller as you will not be able to get them from the machine (also allow time to do this before your train leaves).
- Do not get money from the airport/mall money exchange people. And if you do, make sure they charge you what they advertise as they will tack on fees and not tell you. Really just avoid any conversion shop. Comes down these people make their money on urgency… so try not to put yourself in a place where things are urgent.
Feel free to comment if you have further suggestions or questions!
And now for something completely different:
Bank on it – S