These are a few things I or someone I knew had to learn the hard way…I hope you benefit from even 1 on this list.
1. Let a Bank Know
Don’t forget to hit up your bank before you leave for a trip and let them know the dates you will be gone. If you fail to do this, you may very well get a hold on your account upon entering which can take up to several days to be released. It happens to people all the time. Don’t be the person who has to borrow $200 from a stranger you just met in a hostel (although, there will most likely be someone around to lend you the money. I’ve been the lendee and the lender.) Trust me it is not fun! One time I had a hold on my bank and all I had was the money that was in my pocket that had to last the next 4-5 days (it was over the Christmas holiday and weekend days where the American bank just wasn’t open). I remember stopping for food and only getting a side of rice, which was maybe 30B, ($1 USD) and having to ration and make sure I didn’t overspend as I had to stretch that money for the next few days. I was also sick at the time, staying in a hotel room where I hadn’t even paid yet, they were also waiting on my bank to come through so I could pay them for the past 5 days I had stayed there. It was quite a week. Managing your money on such a tight budget is fun when you get to do it, not so much when you have to do it. I had to budget hard that week, to eat a side of rice for lunch, my only entertainment was walking around and hanging on the beaches, I was forced to not spend money. And my quality of time really, honestly, did not go down at all.
2. No Lose Slots
The slot that you put your ATM card inside of, should not be lose. Before you put your card in, grab a hold of that piece and wiggle/pull it. Is it stable? Then fine to proceed. A friend of mine said sometimes these ATM machines can be fake and they will eat your card and save your information to use later on. Best to always hit up an ATM at a bank, and not just a random standalone ATM for this exact reason.
3. Don’t be afraid of using 2 or more different banks (They don’t have to know about each other)
This way you have two saving/checking accounts, two different ATM/Debit cards. This is a life saver if one of your banks is sketched out about you buying a flight to Egypt or a hostel in Turkey, which usually happened with my First Bank card-they are a small local bank so kudos to them for keeping an eye out but.. stop locking my account! 😉 good ol’ Chase was there for me when that would happen, and they would not lock up when I was trying to make these purchases. Even though I called them both before my departure, First Bank wanted to know every little place I was going. Having two accounts was really helpful in times like that. Plus if you happen to lose one of your cards, you have access to another.
4. Charles Schwab
Should definitely be one of your side b*tches, I mean banks.
I suggest starting one of your accounts with Charles Schwab because they don’t charge ATM fees when you pull money from ATMS. They actually reimburse you at the end of each month without having to trigger them to do so. It’s not a lot each month, but it does feel good to get those pesky fees back.
5. Pullin’ Out The Dough
While abroad pull the max amount of money as you can each time to avoid high transaction fees over and over again. The downside to that is you have a lot of cash on you for a while, up to $500. With Charles Schwab, you don’t worry about the bank fees, and you can take out as much or little as you’d like but you will still be hit with the exchange rate fees.
6. Seperate Your Cards
Don’t keep all your cards in the same wallet or place in your bag. Unfortunately, there are still people who are tempted to steal your wallet and if they do happen to get their hands on one of your wallets, you will have a back up, because you are smart and read this blog post.