Tips for keeping your money safe abroad

It’s that time of year when lots of people start to think about the value of the pound against the euro, dollar or some other more esoteric foreign currency.

Of course, if you’re the kind of high flying wheeler dealer who makes and loses fortunes via foreign exchange trading then this is simply the stuff of your average day, but for the rest of us it’s part of the run up to our annual holiday.

Having shopped around for the very best deal when changing your money (and, because you’re sensible, never waiting until you get to the airport to change it), the most important aspect of successful holiday financing is one which is so obvious that it’s actually quite easy to overlook. It’s making sure that you keep the funds you take with you, or those you want to access, completely safe.

What could possibly go wrong?

There are many things that can go wrong when you’re travelling abroad, from your luggage enjoying a separate journey all of its own to the local cuisine performing violent acts upon your digestive system; but perhaps the most disruptive of all is not being able to get hold of your money, or losing it altogether.

From simple theft to overzealous bank or building society anti-fraud measures, there are many misfortunes that can befall your cash whilst your away, and few things are more likely to ruin the time you’re meant to spend relaxing on a sun lounger than the knowledge that you haven’t even got the taxi fare back to the airport. There are a few tips, however, which should make this disastrous turn of events at least a little less likely:

Don’t put your wallet in your back pocket – pickpockets in foreign countries target tourists deliberately, aware of the fact that a relaxed holiday mood, especially when combine with hot weather and a ‘lavish’ lunch, tends to make them less vigilant. A wallet protruding from a back pocket is likely to prove an irresistible temptation. For the same reason, don’t carry all of your cash in one wallet or purse so that, even if you do fall victim, the impact will be diluted.

Don’t wear a money belt – there are two reasons why you shouldn’t wear a money belt, and only one of them is sartorial. The other is that it marks you out clearly as a tourist and, as outlined above, tourists are far more likely to fall victim to crime.

Tell your bank that you’re travelling abroad – if someone steals your credit or debit card and runs away overseas on a wild spending spree, your bank will spot the unusual transactions and freeze your account. This is clearly a good thing. If, on the other hand, the person doing the spending is you, treating yourself to a few souvenirs, then the frozen accounts are very much a bad thing. For that reason, inform your bank before you leave, telling them where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Just in case, however, make sure you take all the relevant bank telephone numbers and keep them in a safe place should you need to make contact.

Spread your money – if you’re carrying cash, keep several smaller amounts in different places, and if you’re accessing bank accounts, make sure the money is in more than one account. That way, if you lose one ATM card you’ll still be able to access your cash via another and, using the emergency numbers you’ve now jotted down having read the last tip, you can arrange to have the ‘trapped’ funds transferred.

Online banking – if your bank offers online banking, take them up on it. Online access to your account will make it much easier to check while you’re abroad, thus allowing you to look out for things such as fraudulent activity, overcharging and so on.

Arrange the money in your wallet in order of denomination – large notes to small or vice versa. That way, you won’t have to pull a wad of notes out and start rifling through when it comes to paying for something, thus attracting the attention of the criminals who were disappointed to see you sensibly hadn’t left your wallet in your back pocket.

One last tip, if you are planning on using a debit or credit card whilst abroad, is to shop around for one which offers the service in the country of your choice without charging fees. Most banks charge a transaction fee, and even a small amount can build up when it’s applied to every transaction over a week or two week period. Not quite as obvious as a pickpocket, perhaps, but still something which is going to leave you feeling short changed.

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