Tuesday, 8 Oct 2013
One of the great opportunities that you have when you are a student is to visit other countries and experience other cultures. You may be planning on heading off to volunteer overseas this summer, or you may be thinking of backpacking across Europe or Asia. However, if you do, you need to consider carefully how you are going to take the money with you that you need. While cash may seem the simplest option, carrying large amounts of cash in many foreign countries is dangerous, and so you need to look for other options.
The first and most obvious way of taking money with you is to carry one or more credit cards. This is incredibly convenient, but you can also get hit with high purchase fees and poor exchange rates. Also, many establishments in other countries do not take credit cards, and certainly not for small amounts. You may be able to pay for breakfast at McDonald’s in the US with your MasterCard or Visa, but don’t count on being able to do this everywhere you go. However, if you do decide to rely primarily on credit cards, make sure that you take at least two and keep them in different places, so that you won’t be stuck if you lose one or it is stolen.
Another popular option in the past was to use traveler’s checks. However, while you can still get these, getting a prepaid travel card is now more common. This can be loaded with the currency of the country to which you are traveling, and you can use it like a credit card to pay for purchases or get money out of a bank machine. If you do this, it is a good idea to arrange for the card online, rather than waiting until you get to the airport to purchase one. This is because the exchange rates are much worse at airports than you would get anywhere else.
You also need to think about what you would do if an emergency struck, and you needed cash in a hurry. One of the easiest ways to do this is to arrange with your family or friends to wire you money using a service such as Trans-Fast Remittance LLC. Often, these services allow you to get your money within an hour of it being wired, and provide a number of different ways that you can collect your money.
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Finally, another good way of getting emergency cash if you need it is to set up what is called conditional access to your bank account. This allows your family or friends to make a deposit to your account, although they won’t be able to withdraw from it. Once they do this, you can take out the money from your account using a local bank machine in the country where you are. However, you need to arrange this conditional access before you leave, and you also need to tell your bank that you may be making withdrawals from outside the country – otherwise, they may freeze your account because they suspect fraud.