Between travel websites and social media sites making it seem like all our friends and family are traveling around the world. And even seasoned travelers make mistakes once in a while. The worst mistakes we can make when traveling involve money, though some mistakes are worse than others. Here are four holiday money mistakes to avoid at all costs. We’ll also take the time to explain how to avoid making them yourself.
Only Having One Money Option
A common version of this mistake is having a single debit or credit card. When your wallet is stolen, you have no way to pay for anything. If your card is declined, you can’t pay for things, either. This doesn’t mean you hit your credit limit. It could happen because your card doesn’t support the local currency.
The solution is to diversify your payment options. Carry some cash so you can pay for everyday expenses, including when your credit card doesn’t work. Take a prepaid card you can use at restaurants and stores if your credit card doesn’t work. Don’t try to exchange money with street vendors or shops. They aren’t likely to give you an honest exchange rate. Note that airports have terrible exchange rates, too. If you have to exchange currency, go to a reliable source like a bank.
Know that you’ll be hit with extra costs if you swipe your credit card and pay in British pounds instead of the local currency. You’ll pay the local provider’s exchange rate, and that may be much higher than what a bank would charge. Conversely, you shouldn’t bother with traveller’s cheques. They’re a lot of effort to get, easily stolen, and are often refused by merchants.
Not Learning the Local Currency
You don’t have to become an expert in the local currency, but you do need to know the basics. Then you won’t be ripped off by someone giving you a much smaller bill than you’re owed. This can also prevent you from giving someone a note that’s too large for the bill or giving them currency from the wrong country.
Failing to Budget for Your Trip
You need to budget for the major line items in your budget like travel, accommodations, food, and activities. This can prevent you from hitting your credit card limit while abroad. However, you should know your options just in case you have used up your cash and your credit limit. For example, you can find 3 month loans even with bad credit online. These short-term loans are approved quickly, and you’ll often get the money within the same day or two from approval.
Using Your Standard Cards without Knowing the Charges
Understand the fees you could be hit with when you’re using your cards abroad. For example, some credit cards charge a currency conversion fee in addition to interest. These fees only compound if you do a cash advance in the local currency at the airport when you arrive. And don’t forget that cash advances of all kinds start accruing interest immediately.
You could get a credit card with no foreign exchange fees abroad, a significant savings over the three percent most credit cards charge. A side benefit of having a separate credit card for travel expenses is that your main credit cards aren’t affected if that card is stolen while you’re traveling.
On the flip side, be careful about using a prepaid debit card. You could run into problems if your card runs out, and you may be hit with high fees if you try to reload it.
Take steps to avoid the worst money mistakes you can make while on vacation. Then you can enjoy your trip without worrying about money unless you decide to blow your budget.