Are you planning on taking a vacation this winter? While booking a flight, setting up an itinerary and packing up bathing suits are tasks many soon-to-be travelers are eager to jump on, setting up your finances prior to shuttling off to the airport requires some work. A thin cash supply and a frozen credit card during your trip can put a damper on anyone's holiday, whether it's a one-week skiing trip to Montana or a three-month adventure across Europe. Here are three important things you should remember to do before departing.
Tell Your Credit Card Company
Along with your friends, family and employers, your credit card company should be on the list of those you should notify when you are leaving, where you are going and when you plan on arriving home. Some cards are pretty flexible when it comes to credit card usage abroad, with companies such as Capital One or Chase offering perks including hotel rewards points and no foreign transaction fees when used away from home. Whichever card you use, however, take some extra precautions before leaving and call your credit card company to request a note be put on your file that you will be using your card abroad for a specific number of days. A brief phone call to customer service in the comfort of your home beats having a freeze placed on your card while trying to pay for souvenirs in the checkout line.
Notify Your Bank
Banks can also freeze your checking account if there are frequent suspicious withdrawals in a foreign country. Though one argument for switching to a credit union is that they boast lower fees and better customer service, one of the benefits of managing your finances with a large bank is that many of them, including Bank of America, maintain ATM partnerships overseas. This generally grants customers the ability to avoid bank fees when withdrawing cash and reduces the likelihood of your bank flagging your account for shenanigans. As with your credit card, if you're with with a big bank stay on the safe side and notify them of your trip.
Cash Is King
Whether you are staying within your own continent or sojourning to remote locales, you should maintain a healthy supply of cash to get you by in your day-to-day outings. While it may be unreasonable to try and pay for everything - such as your hotel stay - with only legal tender, by and large, you should make sure you take out a more-than-appropriate amount of money and use it more often than your cards. Notwithstanding whether your bank or credit card offers fee waivers for travel, carrying physical currency with you is predominately safer than paying with cards - both in terms of staying within budget and reducing the risk of identity theft if you end up visiting a less-than-legitimate business. Splitting your cash across multiple days gives you better control of your spending, and if worse comes to worst and you end up losing your money, it's marginally better than losing your information and having your entire bank account's fund being purloined.
The Bottom Line
Holidays are a time to focus on desires outside of work and home, whether it's sightseeing or simply taking a break from the 9-to-5 grind. The last thing you want to worry about when you are away is dealing with money stress. While these three steps aren't as fun as planning out your vacation itinerary, spending a few minutes out of your schedule tying up these loose ends will certainly make the actual trip itself infinitely more enjoyable.