You’ve packed your suitcase, planned your itinerary, and already checked into your flight. Surely you’ve done everything you need to prepare for your international vacation, right?
It turns out that there’s one small, crucial step that travelers often forget before heading overseas: informing their banks.
Notify your bank before using a credit or debit card abroad
Banks do whatever they can to protect you from identity theft. But if you’re not careful, your bank’s eagerness could backfire when you travel. If they spot transactions in an unfamiliar location, your bank may assume your card is being used fraudulently and shut it off.
When you let your bank know that you’re going away, a record is added to your account and shared with their fraud detection system. This prevents your “abnormal” spending patterns from triggering a block on your card.
How to set up a travel notice
Every bank works a little differently. If you already use online banking, there’s likely an online travel notice where you can enter your destination and the length of your trip. If you’ve got multiple countries on your itinerary, you can specify that as well.
If you don’t have online banking, call to speak with a customer service representative to set up a travel alert on your account. You can also go into a branch and speak with a representative face-to-face.
Additional financial precautions to keep in mind when you travel
Letting your bank know about your travel plans can prevent you from losing access to your accounts while you travel, but it’s not the only precaution you should take. You should always have a backup of your important documents and information, like your bank’s 24-hour telephone and your account numbers. If possible, bring more than one credit or debit card with you and stash one in a safe space outside your wallet in the event that your wallet is lost or stolen.