MONEY mishaps when holidaying overseas can turn the trip of a lifetime into a painfully costly ordeal, but the good news for travelers is that it’s not hard to reduce the threats.
Managing money while abroad requires a greater understanding of risks and costs, experts say. Lost or stolen cash or cards are often the biggest worry, but twice as many people report problems simply changing money.
Here’s how to avoid a holiday headache for your finances.
Almost one in three Australians do not set a budget for their overseas holiday, research by The Commonwealth Bank has found.
Researching likely expenses has never been easier thanks to travel websites, and knowing what you’re likely to pay will avoid you running out of money just when you want to splurge on a once-in-lifetime day trip.
“If you plan your budget and overseas spending at the same time that you book your flights and accommodation, you’ll be more financially prepared for unforeseen circumstances,” says Angus Sullivan, CBA’s executive general manager retail products and strategy.
SPREAD THE LOVE
Credit cards, travellers cheques, debit cards, travel cards, online transfers — there’s a rising number of ways to pay when you’re abroad, and consumer finance specialist Lisa Montgomery says it’s wise to bring at least two or three payment options with you.
“That really helps in case you find yourself in a situation where an access point is removed if you, for example, lose a card or it’s stolen,” she says.
TELL YOUR BANK
Montgomery recommends informing your financial institution about your travel plans. “Let them know where you are going overseas, what countries you will be visiting and how long you will be away for,” she says.
This should help stop your bank’s security systems incorrectly thinking that your card is being fraudulently used and cancelling your card when you need it most. If your card is hit by fraud, in most cases the bank covers the losses.
“As long as they know you have been prudent on the security side of things, you are to a large degree protected,” Montgomery says.
DON’T BE A SCROOGE
Remember that travel is all about life experiences, so don’t waste your energy worrying about paying a few extra dollars for currencies, conversion fees and other small costs. “In the scheme of things, it’s just a cup of coffee.”
Electronic banking has made transactions overseas easy, but don’t forget to protect your privacy as you do at home. In fact, be more careful, because sharks lurk in popular tourist spots.
“Remember to use secure Wi-Fi and internet locally when you can, and if you access your internet banking account from a public computer, change your password regularly,” CBA’s Sullivan says.