Share this article

print logo

Be smart with money abroad

In 2011, 58.5 million Americans traveled overseas, according to the International Trade Administration -- a 3 percent increase over 2010. This year, travel forecasters expect the increase in demand to continue.

To help travelers prepare for their next adventure abroad, First Fidelity Bank has gathered a list of tips to make sure that dream vacation doesn't become a nightmare.

"Your vacation should be a time for you and your family to relax," said Mike Pullin, executive vice president for First Fidelity Bank in Norman, Okla. "We want to help travelers plan ahead to avoid common frustrations and unnecessary fees when trying to access their money away from home."

Pullin listed the following tips for helping travelers stay financially smart while on the road:

*Set a budget. Many travelers research hotel and transportation costs, but they don't budget for the money spent while on vacation. Make sure the budget includes dining, entertainment, souvenirs, tips and extra for necessities in case of lost luggage or a forgotten item.

*Notify your bank of where you'll be traveling and the dates you'll be traveling before you leave. If you have a credit card that is not issued by your bank, it is a good idea to notify the credit card company as well to avoid any interruptions in available credit.

*Understand currency conversion. You can find current currency rates online or by asking your local banker.

*Know before you go. Some foreign retailers may not accept magnetic stripe cards. Therefore, it's best to bring a PIN-enabled debit card that works at merchants who don't yet have newer, contactless payment terminals.

*Check for restrictions and fees. Ask your bank if your debit or credit card is subject to daily spending or withdrawal restrictions while abroad. It's also a good idea to research ATM locations near where you'll be traveling to be sure you'll have access to cash when you need it.

*Use caution at ATMs. Before accessing an ATM abroad, inspect it carefully for any signs it's been tampered with, such as crooked components, missing screws or extra plastic around the card slot or film over the PIN pad.

Make sure to cover the PIN pad when entering your access code.

*Access online banking via secured Internet connection.

*Plan for the unexpected. Make a record of your card numbers and telephone numbers in case you need to report a lost or stolen card while on the road.