You are traveling overseas or out of state and are pretty certain you’ve checked all the boxes. Super cheap airfare? Done. Great hotel at a bargain rate? Got it. Guided tour of one of the world’s seven wonders at a discount price? Bingo. Travel websites and apps have made it easy to get great deals on transportation, lodging and sight-seeing worldwide. But trekker beware: your vacation planning isn’t finished the instant that last reservation is made. In the digital age, it’s become even more important to create a financial travel checklist so that you can avoid any unwanted surprises on vacation or your business trip. After all, nothing will put a damper on the day more quickly than a debit card or credit card crisis.
The good news is First Federal Bank’s financial travel tips can help you avoid stressful situations. Here are some key items for your traveling checklist:
Notify Bank of Travel Plans
Fraud prevention is important to everyone at First Federal Bank. So before heading to the airport, give us notice of your travel plans so we don’t incorrectly flag any debit card or credit card activity, like buying mountain climbing gear in St. Moritz or museum tickets in Morocco as fraud. Without prior travel notification, your account might be frozen because of what seems like suspicious spending in a foreign country or outside of Ohio, Michigan or Indiana
Bonus tip: Take the same pre-trip notification steps with any other credit card companies. They, too, will be monitoring your cards for suspicious activity.
Enroll in Online and Mobile Banking
Make sure you’re enrolled in online banking and have downloaded our mobile banking app, so you can view account information via your mobile device or hotel computer, transfer money as needed, and check to see that all listed withdrawals are legitimate.
Bonus tip: Because you won’t be logging on from your home computer or a known mobile location, you’ll probably need to answer online banking security questions to access your account. Know those answers before leaving home.
Know Your Limits
It’s important to understand if there are any daily spending limits on your card. If you unexpectedly go over your daily limit, you might miss out on those Mayan blouses in Mexico.
Bonus tip: It’s possible to temporarily raise your daily limits for special purposes, such as vacations. Ask about this possibility before you leave home.
Get Those Numbers
Sure, you know your PIN by heart. But be sure you jot down First Federal Bank’s customer service phone number so you can call in an emergency: 1-877-367-8178. While you’re at it, make note of the equivalent number for your credit card companies.
Bonus tip: Before embarking abroad, check with your cell phone provider about international calling rates. There are countless tales of overseas travelers coming home to find a multi-thousand-dollar bill. Major cell companies offer modestly priced international calling plans. You can also buy contract-free phones that allow for reasonably priced international calling.
Give Yourself Options
You may be planning to lean on that credit card that offers rewards for frequent use. But experts say it’s a good idea to carry a variety of payment methods, including cash, a debit card and two different credit cards. After all, you never know when a magnetic strip will wear out in Warsaw, or when a restaurant won’t accept a particular card. Not a good look if you’re treating clients on business. Also make sure you pack the credit card you used to book reservations, even if you don’t plan to use it to make payments. Checking the card number is one way businesses verify your identity.
Bonus tip: Book your trip using points earned through ScoreCard® Rewards from your debit or credit card. With ScoreCard Rewards, you can purchase domestic and international plane tickets and book reservations to over 86,000 hotels and resorts worldwide.
Change Money Wisely
It’s tempting to sprint to the currency exchange booth at the airport to get those euros, pesos or pounds. But that’s a recipe for rip-off. Check with First Federal Bank first for the best exchange rates. If we don’t offer what you need, use overseas ATMs connected to a reputable bank, credit card company or global network such as PLUS, Cirrus, Maestro or the ATM Global Alliance.
Bonus tip: When traveling, use ATMs located inside or just outside of banks. ATMs in cafés and town squares are more likely to be targeted by thieves who use surveillance cameras to capture data that’s later used to empty accounts.
All of us at First Federal Bank hope your trip goes off without a hitch. But, should you run into any issues, we are always here to help. Contact us before you go!