ACCESSING YOUR CASH ABROAD
How you access and withdraw your money abroad is extremely important and when done wisely can save you hundreds of ££££. After saving your hard earned cash, the last thing you want to do is waste it on large bank transfer and ATM fees.
Depending on your bank, using an ATM/Debit Card from home in a foreign country leads to paying a fee to your bank, an ATM charge plus a fee for exchanging your currency. This all comes from YOUR pocket.
So, what should you do to get the most out of your money while travelling?
GET A STARLING BANK CARD
This is the best debit card I have ever had for abroad and at home. I cannot rate it highly enough and believe its perfect for travellers.
It's completely App-based:
Download the app and fill out the application (You must have a UK address that can be linked to your account) and they will send your card out to you within three days.
Activate your card and choose your secret pin.
Find your Account Number and Sort Code to transfer your funds then you're ready to use it!
It's amazing because not only does it NOT charge any Bank Transfer or Exchange fees, it gives you the best possible Exchange Rate. (You may be charged an ATM fee but that will be from the ATM provider itself, not Starling Bank) This card also comes with zero charges when using contact-less abroad!
If you have any issues or problems while you're away, their help team are easily reached 24/7. I've personally never had a problem with the card but heard from other backpackers who use it and have had something gone wrong its been resolved very quickly and easily.
If your card gets lost or you think it's been stolen, you can Lock your ATM card extremely quickly and perfectly easily on the app. It will be deactivated so no one will be able to use it and steal your cash. Then, simply order a new and it will be sent out!
It honestly sounds too good to be true but I've tried and tested it in ten different countries now and its been perfect!
Starling Bank Debit Card
COMPARE CARDS WITH MONEY MARTIN https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/travel-credit-cards/
Carrying a Credit Card with you on your travels is something to consider. They're great for a back up if you can't access your funds or if your debit card gets lost, plus you can also earn rewards!
I understand that they're not for everyone because you don't want to risk coming home to debt but as long as you stick to using it for emergencies or making bookings online AND make sure you pay it off every month with your savings then they're very beneficial.
I use the website above for any new tips on saving money abroad where Martin Lewis compares the best Credit Cards, Pre-Paid Cards and Debit Cards to get for your travels. When choosing a new Credit Card, look out for the ones that offer 0% interest rates for the first 12-24 months. This means you won't be charged anything in this time if you haven't paid off your balance. Also, keep an eye out for a card that offers Air Miles when you use it, meaning you could get a free flight by just spending with the card as normal!
USE CASH KNOWINGLY
While you're on your adventure, it's always practical to carry some cash with you! By this I don't mean most of your savings just some for emergencies and enough local currency to get you through the first couple days of your trip.
My Tips for Carrying Cash
Exchange around one hundred pounds/dollars worth of local currency before your trip. This is because airports always give a poorer exchange rate which will leave you ripped off! Also don't risk the ATM's being broken or non existent at an airport. No one wants to arrive somewhere new with nothing on them!
You should also bring another hundred or two in a global currency such as U.S Dollars for emergencies. This will give you peace of mind knowing you can exchange it easily if you have a problem accessing your money.
Never keep all your cash together. Keep some on you then separate and hide the rest somewhere safe with your valuables.
Use some of the local currency you have brought with you to get from the airport to your accommodation then try and withdraw money with your ATM card as soon as you can. If there is a problem with your card it's better to know sooner rather than later.
I like to take out the maximum amount at a time to save on the unavoidable ATM charges but only do this if you feel comfortable doing so.
The amount of cash you carry with you in person should never exceed the amount you're willing to lose!
USE TransferWise TO SEND MONEY OVERSEAS
Say you're heading to Australia, Canada or New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa and have to open a bank account with said country.
You will need to top up your new account with savings from home before you start working, plus, once you're back home, exchange your new savings into your own currency!
Doing this through a bank will leave you with an unwanted International Transfer Fee.
Download the app TransferWise to exchange money between accounts quickly, easily and at a fraction of the usual cost.
Use them and I promise you won't be disappointed! It's completely safe, quick and gives you a fantastic exchange rate. I've never had a bad experience with them!
DON'T FORGET THE BASICS
With any card, always notify your bank before you take off on your adventure. This will prevent your funds from being frozen and allows you to access your money abroad.
Sometimes when using an ATM or chip and pin machine abroad they will ask you, do you want to pay in local currency or your own? Always choose local currency to be given the best rate and therefore, be charged less.
Research what extra fees your bank will charge you for using your debit card abroad. If you decide to take your debit card from home with you (please get the StarlingBank Debit Card or one similar) and have not checked how much money they will snatch from you, you could be left sickened by the fees they charge! I've been charged up to £15 from my Bank of Scotland Debit Card and AUD$80 with my Commonwealth Debit Card when using overseas.
Research how accessible ATM's are in every country you're planning to visit. Some countries or cities have ATM's scattered everywhere but some have very few so you will to take more cash in local currency with you or withdraw more from the last ATM you visit. When I was in Cebu in the Philippines, ATM's were very scarce, my boyfriend and I had to travel on a motorbike taxi for up to an hour to find one, and sometimes they didn't even work!
When leaving a foreign country to visit a new one, exchange all local currency from the previous country before you leave. This is because it could be a Closed Currency, which means it's not really available outside the country it comes from and CAN'T be exchanged outside its country of origin.
When taking out foreign money from the ATM, the machine may ask you to accept their conversion rate. Check with your bank what exchange rate they will use, if it's better, then decline the ATM's rate. You will still receive your money, just more of it!
Those are my best tips for spending money abroad! Don't forget to do your research before you go and save as much money on fees as you can because its YOUR money! It should be being used on living your dreams rather than going to your banks pocket!