There’s no doubt that summer is one of the busiest seasons for travel near and far. Whether you’re hitting the road for a weekend trip or flying across the country for a fun vacation, everyone can benefit from a couple financial security tips for their summer travels.
For all those who think, “This could never happen to me,” I have bad news – financial scams can happen to anyone. And scams often happen when and where you least expect it. A friend of mine recently took a trip with her family to the Bahamas. On day two, their credit card was rejected. Upon calling the number they discovered it was shut down for suspicious activity. A $200+ dinner bill in another part of the world – yes, their dinner bill! Unfortunately, the card would take 3 days to reactive. Fortunately, they had a second credit card, called the card company to let them know where they were and how long they would be there – and the potential financial disaster was averted.
Financial Security Tips for Trips
Here are my financial security tips to keep in mind the next time you travel.
- Travel with more than one form of payment. Don’t depend on just one credit card or one debit card; take at least one additional form of back up payment in the event your primary form is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.
- Reflect on whether a prepaid debit card is a good option for you. Upside includes they are generally not linked to your bank account, allow you to load a specific amount of money on the card and can be used for ATM cash withdrawals. Be sure to research potential costs, limitations on their use, and your protections if they are lost or stolen.
- Inform your bank and any credit card companies where and when you will be traveling. In their quest to protect your accounts, they may deny charges that look suspicious, especially when used in other parts of the world or for things or amounts not typical to your account. Naturally, they are wondering if your credit card or debit card was stolen. They don’t know you might be on vacation! Also remember to verify that your credit card or debit card can be used internationally.
- Provide your updated contact information to your bank. Are you someone who has cut the land line and only has a cell phone? Now think back to when you opened your account. If you’re like most, you provided your home number. Now imagine a banker sees something unusual, or what we call a “out of pattern transaction” and wants to make sure there isn’t fraudulent activity on your account and can’t get ahold of you! Reaching you to confirm out of pattern transactions is critical to preventing fraud. So please follow up with your bank and make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Store or carry small amounts of cash. For your own safety, it’s not recommended you carry a lot of cash, and certainly don’t have it out or in full view of others. You may want to take some cash to pay for smaller purchases where credit or debit cards may not be accepted. Some hotels also offer room safes.