If you’re planning on traveling, either for a couple of weeks or for a longer trip around the world, you should put some thought into what bank account you’ll use while traveling.
Obviously, you’ll want to let your bank know that you’re going to be traveling, and let them know where you’re going. If you normally make ATM withdrawals and purchases around your home and your work, your bank might think something fishy is going on when you suddenly start spending big bucks in foreign lands. So first thing’s fist: let your bank know the dates and locations of your trip. It’s best to do this in person, at your local bank branch, because then you can ask them about some other important things while you’re there.
It’s probably worth your while to ask how much the fees are for international withdrawals and purchases. Some accounts have different fees for different things. For example, if you have to pay a monthly fee for an account, but that waives international transaction fees, you’ll probably end up saving money in the long run. It’s best to explain your trip and your intentions to your banker, they are pros and they can help you pick one of the best current accounts for travelers.
Since you won’t be at home, and won’t be able to walk into your local bank branch to withdraw money, transfer money from one account to another, or deal with any issue that might come up, it’s best to pick a bank that has a decent online presence. Most major banks will have good online banking, but some smaller banks and credit unions don’t, so you’ll want to check, and be sure to register for an online bank account when you get set up – it might not be automatic. Another option is to use an online banking solution like Paypal. I was able to register for a Mastercard debit card that draws directly from my paypal account, making it really easy to pull money out, anywhere in the world.
One final tip, is to choose someone you trust who isn’t traveling with you to be an authorized signer on your account. That way, if anything weird or complicated does crop up, and you need some boots on the ground back home, you’ve got someone with access to your accounts who can take care of any issues.
You might also consider choosing a good travel credit card – having access to emergency funds can be a real life-saver!
Whatever bank you choose to go with, and whatever type of account you set up, always use common sense when pulling money out of ATMs overseas – keep your money, and your cards in safe places, and be away that account numbers and passwords may not be safe on public networks.