Money Matters

Save Money Overseas.  I imagine you don’t want to go on your next international jaunt with a several thousand dollars stuffed in your pocket. You don’t want to take the risk of getting rolled on your first day and be penniless and begging for money at the Bangkok Western Union. Traveler’s checks are so 1980s. So you can rule those out.

What about credit cards? You definitely want to have a couple of those. But you need to be aware of a couple of things to save you some serious cash. First, many cards that are issued charge you a 3% foreign transaction fee. That can add up pretty quickly. This can also be easy to avoid. A handful of companies offer 0% foreign transaction fee cards. So as long as you apply for one of these cards a couple of weeks prior to your trip, you can hope to save some money on credit card fees.

Take a look at this great list from Nerd Wallet

Ok. We avoided that issue. But there is one other problem. In many countries, from Thailand to Tanzania, credit cards are not quite as popular with merchants as they are in the states. As you are probably aware, when you make a purchase with a credit card, the merchant is charged around 3% by the credit card company. Many places in Thailand, avoid this issue by increasing your purchase price by 3%. So if you buying an airplane ticket for $1000 denominated in Thai baht, the travel agent might charge you an additional $30 to compensate for the credit card fees.

So your best bet might be your old trusty ATM card. ATMs are ubiquitous in many countries. But we have another issue we need to contend with. As you also know, many banks charge a fee when you are not utilizing your bank’s ATM machine. This can add up to $2-$5 a withdrawal. Most likely, you may want to make frequent withdrawals so you are not walking around with large amounts of money. When traveling overseas, I find myself going to the ATM every other day. And sometimes when beer is involved more often. So on a ten day trip at $5 a clip, visiting the ATM every other day; you might have just racked up $25 in fees.

Oh, yeah, there is one more problem. Many ATMs around the world are also charging you a fee as well. Sometimes, $5, sometimes more. So now your ATM tab has just increased to $50 for your vacation. Are there any work-arounds? I am glad you asked.

Some smaller bank and internet banks are at a competitive disadvantage. These internet banks cannot compete with the number of ATMs that Bank of America or Chase owns. So to even the playing field, these smaller banks offer to reimburse any fee that you are subject to when using a competitors’ ATM. This is a perfect solution to all the ATM fees that you will be subject to on an overseas trip.

Has your worst nightmare come true when traveling? The ATM eats your card. It is a Saturday and your flight is first thing Monday morning. Make sure you have a back up ATM card. Most banks will not issue you a second ATM card. There is a simple work-around. Call the bank, inform them your ATM card is bent and you need a new one issued. Insist the bank does not deactivate your current card. Simply, wait for them to send you your second card. Now you have a back up.

Take a look at this list from Travel Sort

I know what you are thinking. There is no Imperial Bank to near my house. Not an issue. Open an account over the internet and electronically link your current bank to your new bank. You can electronically (ACH) send money between the two banks for free in a couple of days. So before you start your trip, seed your free ATM bank with a thousand dollars.

Two more things, call your credit card/ATM 800 numbers before you leave for your trip. Some of these financial organizations will block transaction in foreign countries. You need to share with them what countries you are visiting and dates.

I also take a photo of my credit cards back and front and store them in Dropbox. So in case they are stolen or lost I am able to access my account information quickly.

Call To Action:

1                     Get foreign transaction free credit cards

2                     Get ATM card with fee reimbursement

3                     Get backup ATM card

4                     Update financial organizations of your upcoming trip and dates

5                     Take photos of your cards (and store on Dropbox)


Yes, this does require a bit of work. But for 30 minutes of your time, you can save yourself a couple of hundred dollars an international trip. Any thoughts or tips that you use?










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