Should You Call Your Bank Before Travelling?

  • Setting a travel notice at your bank ensures your debit card won’t be declined.
  • You may request a temporary increase on your debit card for withdrawals or purchases.
  • Review your bank account fees to see if you’re charged if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

Traveling to a new destination should be a relaxing experience.

To avoid unnecessary stress during your trip, run through these six tips, so your banking doesn’t affect your much-needed vacation.

Call your bank before you travel

Setting a travel notice beforehand ensures that you don’t need to make a last-minute call to your bank and waste time on your trip.

Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist for Ally, recommends calling your bank before you go on vacation, especially if you are visiting a foreign country. If you forget to call your bank before a trip, your debit purchases may be declined.

Set up account alerts for extra security

To protect yourself against fraudulent activity, monitor your card usage closely.

Bell advises downloading the apps for your bank and credit card companies and setting up alerts.

“Turn on notifications. It can be annoying to you on a normal daily basis, but while you’re traveling, getting those notifications when your card is being run makes sure the numbers not getting picked up in the machine and that somebody else is using it somewhere else,” says Bell.

If you get suspicious activity on your checking account or credit card, contact your bank so they can help protect your accounts.

Even if you predominantly plan to use your credit card for most expenses, carrying some cash may be helpful for minor or miscellaneous purchases.

If you are visiting a country with another currency system, you’ll likely get better exchange rates at your bank than at the destination.

“The point of travel locations like say your airport, your train station, or even in city centers where there’s a lot of tourist activity, that’s where you’re going to get your highest exchange rates for currency. Try to avoid those types of places ,” notes Bell.

Research currency exchange rates beforehand to find the best rate so you won’t have to exchange currency during your travels.

Ask your bank for a temporary debit card limit increase

Debit cards have a daily limit for how much you can purchase at stores or withdraw from ATMs. However, if you want to raise your purchase or withdrawal limit, you may contact your bank and ask for a temporary limit increase.

Bell suggests estimating costs for your trip, so you know how much you’ll need for each day, and how much to increase your limit.

You may want to limit your debit card usage if your financial institution does not provide many ATMs in the location that you are visiting or you are reimbursed out-of-network ATM fees.

“You really don’t want to be using your ATM card more than once or twice on your trip just to avoid those fees,” adds Bell.

Review foreign transaction fees and out-of-network ATM fees

Common bank fees you’ll want to avoid during your trip include foreign transaction fees and out-of-network ATM fees.

Fees will vary depending on where you bank. If you use a machine that’s not in your network, you may get charged a fee by both your bank and the ATM provider. You also might have to pay an additional percentage fee if the ATM is outside of the US.

Bear in mind that some financial institutions will reimburse out-of-network ATM fees or won’t charge any fees at all.

Check your financial institution’s policies to determine whether you’ll be charged a fee for accessing an ATM during your trip.

Always have backup payment options

Bell says credit cards are often the most secure payment option during trips since they provide extra security when you make purchases. However, Bell adds you’ll want to have multiple paying options during your trip in case an unexpected situation occurs.

If you already have cash on hand or a backup card, you will be well-prepared for any expense.

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