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Don't Get Stranded: How to Safeguard Your Finances While Traveling

three friends take a selfi while on vacation

It’s that time of the year! The air is buzzing with travel plans because it’s peak vacation season.

While you’re busy sorting out the nitty-gritty details of your upcoming trip—including activities, hotels, transportation, and packing—there’s one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked: your finances.

Yes, it’s much more fun to focus on the adventure that lies ahead but setting up your finances before jetting off to the airport will make your vacation more enjoyable in the long run. Because let’s face it, the last thing you want to worry about when you are away is dealing with money stress.

In this blog, we’ll dive into some of our favorite financial tips for soon-to-be travelers.

Pay your bills in advance

Whether you are island hopping in the Mediterranean or visiting grandma for the weekend, the last thing you want to worry about is your energy bill. Consider paying your bills in advance or setting up automatic payments for your rent, utilities, or credit card bills.

That way, you can spend less time worrying about missed payments or late fees and more time creating unforgettable memories on your trip.

Secure your finances: Notify your bank!

Picture this: You've spent an exhilarating day exploring vibrant streets of Tokyo, immersing yourself in the rich culture and marveling at the bustling markets. As you find the perfect keepsake in a local shop, you approach the cashier to make the purchase. However, to your dismay, your card is repeatedly declined. The line forming behind you grows impatient, and frustration sets in. Your account has been frozen due to suspected fraudulent activity, leaving you stranded in a foreign land without access to your funds. This could have been avoided.

It is always wise to inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, especially if you are leaving the country. The way you notify varies between financial institutions. For some, you can set up travel notifications online, while others make it easy to call customer service and request for a note to be put on your file. By keeping your financial institutions in the loop, you minimize the risk of your card/account being frozen unexpectedly during your travels. Academy Bank makes it easy to set travel alerts with Card Control features available in Digital Banking or through our mobile app.

foreign currency stacked on each other

Exchange currency before you go

If you are traveling abroad, one of the best financial tips is to exchange money before leaving. It may require some planning ahead of time (1-2 business days), but it’s worth it in the end. Why? For starters, you’ll be thankful to have money ready for taxis and food as soon as you hop off the plane, meaning you can finally start your vacation without running yet another errand. Secondly, and more importantly, your local bank or credit union offers far better rates than your options abroad. In fact, the currency exchange booths typically found in airports, tourist sites, and train stations are often the worst options for exchanging money because they offer terrible exchange rates and high conversion fees.

Utilize customized account alerts

Customized alerts can be extremely helpful while traveling. Alerts provide real-time updates on account activity and help you detect any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. This ensures that you remain aware of any charges or withdrawals made from your accounts and cards.

Alerts can also come in handy with budget management. By setting up alerts for specific spending thresholds or withdrawal limits, you can effectively keep track of your expenses and avoid overspending.

When setting up customized alerts, be sure to check with your bank or credit card provider to understand the available options and how to activate them. Different institutions offer varying types of alerts. Academy Bank offers both SMS text messages and email notifications so you can choose what’s most convenient.

Bring Multiple Payment Options

Don’t put all your eggs in one wallet! It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan when it comes to your finances and traveling, which is why we suggest having multiple payment options. If your primary payment method is lost or stolen, having backup funds can be a lifesaver while you explore a new place.

We always recommend keeping some cash with you no matter what, but when it comes to cards, you’ve got options!

For your vacation, the perfect combo is a mix of credit and debit cards with some cash. Here’s our suggestion: Keep one card with you during the day, have another one securely stored in your phone’s digital wallet, and don’t forget to carry some cash as well. However, don’t carry all your money and cards at once. Play it safe! Leave some cash and a backup card in your hotel safe for added peace of mind.

Lost or stolen card? Know your options.

No matter how much we prepare, the unexpected can still happen. Therefore, it’s important to know your options when your cards go missing.

Misplaced your debit card? No worries! You can instantly turn off your card while you search, then switch it back on once you find it.

In the event that your card is lost or stolen, the first step is to report it. The best option is to deactivate your card using your bank’s online platform. This allows you to take immediate action to protect your account. Additionally, you can report your lost or stolen card through live chat, email, secured messaging, or by calling your bank directly. For Academy Bank, it’s easiest to report a lost/stolen debit card through Digital Banking, and it’s easiest to report a lost/stolen credit card by calling Credit Card Fraud at 800-600-5249.

So what?

No matter where you travel, locally or internationally, for business or pleasure, for one day or one month, the commonality is money. We use it for meals, hotels, transportation, emergencies, and more. A limited cash supply or a frozen account can put a damper on anyone’s vacation, which is why we’ve chosen these financial tips. We hope you find them useful on your next adventure!

Digital Banking with Academy Bank

We hope you’re getting excited for your upcoming travel. Be sure to take advantage of Academy Bank’s digital banking services and mobile app.

With our digital banking platform, accessing your online bank account has never been this simple. From the convenience of your phone or computer, you can bank anytime, anywhere. Monitor your account activity in Amsterdam, keep track of your balances in Beijing, and quickly access your transaction history in the Hamptons. Your bank travels with you, so you can spend less time worrying about finances and more time enjoying your vacation.

Helpful Resources

Online and Mobile Banking & Setting Up Alerts

Debit Card Controls 

Need Foreign Currency? Visit your local Academy Bank branch

When You Discover Unauthorized Purchases

Member FDIC