8 Ways to be a Financially Savvy Traveler

Money By Stefan Zechner March 15, 2017

From avoiding foreign transaction fees to splitting bills with your fellow travelers, being on the road comes with its own set of financial challenges. Luckily, there are resources and apps to help. Check out the tips that travelers can use to stick to their budget and help make the most of every trip.

Look for Deals on Discount Travel Sites

Heading straight to hotel and airline websites might mean you miss out on the best deals. Make sure you’re checking discount travel sites so you can find flights, accommodations, car rentals, and tours at the best possible price. Many of the sites let you set alerts for your desired destinations and dates so you’ll be ready to pounce when the price is right.

Apply for a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Foreign transaction fees are the surcharge that credit card companies tack on whenever transactions are processed outside of the United States. In 2016, WalletHub estimated that roughly 90% of credit cards charge these fees, which usually costs cardholders 2-4% more on charges made overseas. If you travel often, it’s worth looking into cards that don’t charge these fees.

Know the Latest Rates

From ATMs and credit cards to bank branches and exchange kiosks, you’ll find that exchange rates differ depending on the source. Check with your bank or card issuer to find out what exchange rate they are currently offering.

Use a Bank with no ATM Fees

ATMs can be a great option for getting cash abroad, providing local currency immediately when needed. Unfortunately, many U.S. banks charge a “non-network ATM fee” for using an ATM operated by a different bank or institution. Charges are typically between $2.00 and $3.50. Since you could already be facing charges from the ATM operator, you’ll want to find a bank or debit card that won’t charge even more.

Send Money to Yourself and Others before you leave with the Western Union App

The Western Union app makes it easy to transfer money on the go to nearly 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories around the world. It’s an easy way to have local currency ready for pick up at your destination. You can save contact information for quick repeat sending, track transfers, and even use the app to pay bills you may have forgotten about before leaving home.

Share the Cost with Fellow Travelers Using Splittr

Splitting group bills throughout a vacation adds an extra layer of complexity. Instead of logging each dinner, activity, and accommodation you pay for, let Splittr divvy up the costs for you. Simply add expenses as you go and let the app calculate who owes what to whom. It even lets you split expenses based on individual line items, meaning you won’t be paying for your travel mate’s prime rib and wine when you opted for the salad and a soda.

Stay on Tack with Budgeting Software

Scribbled notes and loose receipts won’t keep you organized on the road. Use budgeting software to make tracking your expenses easier. You can set a daily budget, add expenses as you go, review your spending habits, and adjust as needed. This will help you plan for both one-off expenses and recurring payments on the road.

Always Carry Cash

Most global transactions are conducted in cash; especially in less developed countries. Carrying cash can save the day if you wander into a cash-only establishment, experience card issues or can’t find a nearby ATM. Some people even find cash helps them be more mindful with their spending. It’s best to store your cash in different spots in your bag or pocket in case your wallet gets lost or stolen.

Once you have your financial tools ready, check out the cutting-edge travel tech you also shouldn’t leave home without.