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15 Tips For Keeping Your Money Safe While Traveling Abroad

May 29, 2024

You’ve finally decided on a destination and have booked your hotel and flight. And whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time explorer, ensuring the security of your finances is a crucial, often overlooked part of preparing to travel abroad. In this article, we'll share essential tips that go beyond the typical advice that will help you safeguard your funds and allow you to enjoy every moment of your trip with peace of mind.

  1. Contact Heartland Bank’s Customer Care Center (as well as any other financial institutions whose cards you plan to use on your trip) to share your travel information including dates and locations to prevent your card from being blocked for suspicious activity abroad.
  2. Set up account alerts. Opt-in to receive text and email alerts for your banking and credit cards.
  3. Enroll in the U.S. State Department’s STEP program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is free and allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to receive important safety updates in the destination country, helps the Embassy and family contact you in case of an emergency and helps family get in contact with you in case of emergency.
  4. Get travel insurance. Travel insurance covers you against financial loss that can happen while traveling. From missed airline connections and delayed luggage to more serious issues like injuries or major illness, travel insurance is a small price to pay to safeguard your trip.
  5. Order currency for your destination country. If you travel by air, you may be able to find a currency exchange before you board your flight. The exchange rate may be better upfront, plus you will not need to visit as many ATMs.
  6. Use credit cards instead of debit when possible. Debit cards offer less protection than credit cards, in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
  7. Keep credit/debit cards separate from cash. Divide and hide your money. If you keep cash on you, leave the credit and debit cards in your hotel room safe. That way, if you lose your cash (or have it stolen from you) you still have another source of money as a back up.
  8. Make copies of your information. Make sure you keep a physical and digital copies of your passport, credit/debit cards and phone numbers in case of loss or theft. Keep the physical copy in your hotel safe or luggage and the digital copy on an encrypted device.
  9. Turn off file-sharing apps on your devices. Additionally, make sure you’ve updated passwords and codes for all devices, so they won’t be easily accessed if lost or stolen.
  10. Keep your cash or credit cards at the bottom of your luggage while traveling. This will make it harder for thieves to find if they unzip your luggage.
  11. Use your hotel’s safe. Most hotel housekeepers do not have access to your room safe so items you store in the safe should remain secure (or at least more secure than leaving items sitting out).
  12. Don’t keep money in your pocket. ExpatExplore.com suggests investing in a zippered pouch or a money belt to hide your cash. Both may make it more difficult to be pickpocketed.
  13. Consider an RFID-blocking wallet. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Wallets made of RFID-blocking materials reduce the signal power of a card reader, preventing your credit/debit card’s microchip from being fraudlently read without your knowledge or consent.
  14. Avoid using secluded ATMs or visiting ATMs at night. This tip is good to follow whether you are traveling or not. Always be aware of your surroundings!
  15. Make sure transactions are in local currency, not U.S. currency. If you aren’t aware of the current exchange rate, you may be vulnerable to being ripped off.

Following these simple tips will help you ensure your money is protected and will give you peace of mind so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

This article may reference and link to third party information that has been verified to the best of our abilities. There is no guarantee of accuracy. Heartland Bank does not endorse companies, services, or products referenced in its articles and is not responsible for the content, links, privacy, or security policies of these third parties. Information in the above article may include material from the U.S. State Department (https://step.state.gov/step/), Nerd Wallet (https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/credit-cards/how-to-stay-financially-safe-on-an-international-adventure), Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/07/24/six-effective-ways-to-keep-your-money-safe-while-traveling/?sh=51dce43819a6), ExpatExplore.com (https://expatexplore.com/blog/top-tips-keep-your-money-safe-when-traveling/), and RFIDcloaked.com (https://rfidcloaked.com/what-are-rfid-cards/explaining-rfid-blocking-tech-types/).