Managing Money Abroad
Handling your finances abroad has become much less complicated for students than it was even a decade ago. Globalization has made credit and debit card use commonplace and ubiquitous. There are, however, some important matters to consider when planning access to funds while you are abroad.
Contact Your Bank
Let your bank know that you will be out of the country. Share with them the duration of your travel and your itinerary, the details of where you will be and on what dates. Having your card shut off to protect you from fraud is a great service that many banks provide and also can be a hugely frustrating experience for students abroad if they have not let their banks know about their travel plans.
International Transaction Fees
These fees and surcharges may apply abroad depending on your particular bank. If your bank charges you a flat rate fee, it may be smarter to take out larger sums of money less frequently in order to avoid multiple fees. If you are not comfortable carrying around large sums of money, consider finding a bank that charges a lower rate. Look into credit unions as they may have lower fees. Do some research to see if your bank has partner institutions or reciprocity agreements with banks in your host country. In some cases, this will eliminate transaction fees entirely.
Consider opening a bank account abroad
For students on programs shorter than a semester this option may not be the most cost effective. If you are, however, abroad for longer periods, you may find having an account in-country provides convenience and savings.
Know the exchange rate
Check every few weeks to make sure that the exchange rate has not fluctuated dramatically. Rates can change hourly, so check an online currency converter to make sure that you are using the correct ratio.
Assign a PIN to your card(s)
Some countries require you to have a PIN attached to your credit card. Give yourself some time to do this before you depart.
Make a copy of your debit/credit card
Make a copy of your debit and/or credit card (front and back). Give a copy to someone you trust back home. You can also scan and email the card, though this could represent a security risk. If you lose your card or it gets stolen, it will be helpful to have access to these copies. Also, make sure that you email the international phone number for your debit or credit card to yourself as well, so that you can call your bank in case of emergencies.
Make sure there are ATMs available
ATMs exist just about everywhere in the world, but there are some remote places where they are nowhere to be found. If you think you might be going to one of those places, it is a good idea to research availability.
Set up for Direct Deposit
If you are receiving financial aid or some other income, be sure to set up Direct Deposit. Picking up a check in Seattle won’t be convenient for you if you are abroad!
More Finance Information
For more information concerning financing your study abroad, please see also our Finances page.