When you’re traveling, one of the most important questions to ask is ‘how do I keep my money safe?’
After working hard throughout the year, you deserve some days of relaxation and fun. However excited you are about your trip, the stress of keeping your money safe can take a toll. I remember my first trip to Europe and how nervous I was about losing either my debit card or the Euros I carried around with me. A lot of hostels and even some restaurants require you to pay with cash. So how do you avoid losing money?
Nothing can ruin a trip faster than lost cash or falling prey to a pickpocket. Some of them are smarter than you think. The average thief doesn’t just grab your purse anymore. A big trend now deals with electronic credit card information theft. Don’t be an easy target. We’re here to give you some travel tips on how to keep your money safe. Let’s go.
How to Keep Your Money Safe While On Vacation
1. Use Your Debit Card or Credit Card Whenever Possible and Limit Cash
Okay, using your credit card can be a little dangerous. We don’t know about you, but it’s easy to spend more money than you want to. You might even feel like you have unlimited funds. Using cash is even more dangerous though. If you lose it, it’s not replaceable. In the event that you drop your wallet full of cash, you would lose all of your vacation funds.
However, if someone steals your debit or credit card, you are not responsible for those charges. Most banks will refund fraudulent charges, even if it takes a few days to hit your account. Bring some cash on your vacation. Just don’t bring a lot. Carry only a little more than what is necessary.
Another good tip is to check which forms of payment are primarily accepted at your destination. This includes your hostel or hotel, restaurants, etc. Visit your credit card’s official website and check which countries accept it.
2. Call Your Bank Before You Travel and Give Them Your Itinerary
Unless you want your card frozen while you’re hitting up the best restaurants in Paris, call your bank and notify them of your travels. Make sure to give them your full travel itinerary including dates, cities, and how long you plan on staying in each location. This can also help to prevent credit and debit card theft (even electronically). Your card should have a phone number on the back to call and let them know.
3. Use the Multi Stash Method
If you’re someone who easily misplaces things, move right along. This tip isn’t for you. However, if your organizational skills are on point, read on. If you need to rely on cash, never keep it all in one place (unless it’s in a money belt). For example, you might choose to keep some in your wallet, a little bit in your front jeans pocket, and some inside of your backpack or small suitcase (just don’t leave them unattended). If you have the option to keep some cash in a hotel safe too, this is also a solid option.
This should go without saying but don’t leave your cash, debit or credit cards alone in your hotel room. Theft doesn’t only occur outside of your accommodations. Hotel staff have easy access to your room. If you’re staying in a hostel dorm, you should be extra careful about where you leave your belongings and valuables. Make sure you always lock your doors behind you too and lock up your belongings in a locker or safe whenever possible. More likely than not, you should have an ATM inside or near your place to stay. These ones are generally the most safe to use.
4. Keep A Record of Your Account Numbers and Customer Service Numbers
The sooner you report fraud or a stolen card, the better. Of course it’s difficult to report the theft if you don’t have your card on hand. That’s why it’s great to keep a copy of both your account numbers (checking and routing) and customer service numbers. Keep this information in a safe area where you can quickly access it when needed. I store mine in my email and send it to myself or keep a copy in my iPhone notes. Adding your card info to your Apple wallet is also useful if you misplace your card and still need to pay for something quickly.
5. Avoid Secluded ATMs At All Costs
Secluded ATMs can bring trouble. As a general rule of thumb, it isn’t a good idea to use an ATM that isn’t visible from a well-populated street or area (unless it’s inside a building of course). Use machines located inside your hotel if possible or busy areas. Plan your ATM visits wisely. Don’t visit an ATM at night or in the early morning. If you’re using a vehicle, make use of drive-up ATMS if you can. Keep your engine running, lock your doors, and ask a friend, family member, or your significant other to accompany you. You’ll be less of a tourist target if you go to an ATM with another person.
6. Keep Cash Out of Sight As Much As Possible
This should be obvious but a lot of travelers forget about this in the moment. It’s all too easy to start digging around in your pockets and pull out a wad of cash when you’re going to pay the restaurant bill. Set a specific amount aside ahead of time and always pull cash out discreetly. Only bring what you think you’ll need for the day.
7. Use A Money Belt
Okay, here’s a disclaimer. You will look a lumpy kangaroo with a hidden trick pouch. To avoid this (as much as possible), don’t overstuff your money belt. We recommend bringing your passport, debit card, ID, room key, and a little cash. If you want to avoid looking lumpy, try not to stuff your money belt with lots of loose change like coins. Not only will you look silly but you’ll jingle as you walk too.
Putting that aside, wearing a money belt is one of the best ways to keep your money safe. They’re smart, affordable, and can easily fit under your clothes.
8. Protect Your Devices With Passwords
Losing your phone, laptop, or other device can give someone access to your financial and personal information. A thief could pull up your bank or credit card information and make fraudulent purchases. To keep your money safe, always remember to log out of your accounts like Amazon and your email at all times. Make sure you always protect your electronics with passwords too.
9. Use An RFID Card Sleeve and Passport Holder
Protect your card and passport information from digital theft. People using an NFC device to try to scan and steal your card information won’t be able to get it. The RFID wallet or card sleeve and passport sleeve interfere with the signal. Another good tip is to put two cards in one RFID sleeve. The magnetic strips from both card readers will cross the signal.
10. Be Careful When You’re Going Through Airport Security
It is way easier to lose personal items going through a TSA line than you think. The stress of having officers yell at you to take items off, put items away, and the rush of the crowd can send unorganized travelers into a frenzy. I’ll admit it. I have misplaced my ID once in LAX and my printed boarding pass once when traveling abroad. It’s incredibly stressful.
Ladies, keep all of your card information and boarding pass in your purse or other bag if possible. Guys, put your cards and ID in your wallet and stow your wallet in your backpack or other small personal bag before going through the security line. Make sure to put them in a pocket in the interior of your bag where you can easily find it. Don’t just throw it in haphazardly.
Our Final Thought On How to Keep Your Money Safe When Traveling
The way you handle money on your vacation can either increase or decrease your risk of theft. Thieves count on the fact that a lot of tourists haven’t put effort into researching how to keep your money safe. Prove them wrong. Carry as little cash as possible. Plan ahead. Be wise and sure in your decisions. Regularly monitor your credit card and debit card statements. Conduct research on your destination and safe practices in the country you’re heading to.
Do you have any travel tips on how to keep your money safe that we didn’t cover? If so, we’d love to hear about them as well as any relevant travel stories you may have. Feel free to share them with us in the comment section below. We love hearing from you and will be sure to get back with you soon!
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