Managing money overseas can present some challenges, but if you prepare beforehand, you can save yourself extra aggravation.
1. Plan your finances before departing. What are you going to do if you run out of money abroad? Who can you contact in case of a financial emergency? Have a game plan.
2. Consult with the Office of Financial Aid. You can view study abroad financial aid policies here [link to web page]. If you are going to receive a financial aid refund while you’re abroad, you need to give the office instructions regarding where to mail the check.
3. If you will be gone during tax time, consider how you will pay your taxes while abroad. You may wish to consider granting a parent or guardian power of attorney so that he/she can sign your tax forms for you. If you choose not to arrange this, make sure you have an alternative plan for paying your taxes.
4. Notify your bank and credit card companies of your plans to travel. If you don’t do this, they may freeze your accounts when you try to use them abroad.
5. When traveling, don’t put all of your money in one place. Instead, put half of your money and your debit in one place, and put the other half of your money and your credit card in another place.
6. If possible, have some local currency when you arrive. If you are traveling to a country with a very common currency (pounds, euros, yen), you should be able to order some of the local currency from your own bank in the United States for free or for a small fee. Don’t carry a lot of cash, but carry enough to get you through a weekend in case of emergency. If you are traveling to a country that does not have a very common currency, you may wish to exchange some money at the airport. This generally does not provide the best exchange rate, so you’ll want to exchange a minimal amount.
7. Get a sense of the exchange rate. Conversion websites like www.xe.com update exchange rates daily. It’s a good idea to check the exchange rate every day the week before you travel so that you can get a sense of how much or little the exchange rate fluctuates.
8. In general, ATMs provide the best exchange rate—for now! A few credit companies, including Capital One, also allow you to use your credit card overseas.
9. If you have a smart phone, turn the data feature OFF. If you don’t, you can still be charged exorbitant overseas rates for receiving data—even if you don’t use your phone!
10. Don’t bring traveler’s checks. Traveler’s checks have very limited use overseas and are not recommended.