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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Money SMARTS


Bring a cushion of cash in small denominations, especially one dollar bills for tipping and incidentals. About $200 to $300 in cash is a good rule of thumb. Divide cash with a travel companion rather than stashing all cash in one place.

Take two different major credit cards in the event one is lost or the magnetic strip is damaged. Keep them in separate locations. Check available credit and expiration dates. Some credit card companies block account access if charges suddenly pop up outside the usual credit profile. Notify the credit card company when and where you are traveling to avoid problems.

ATM debit cards are a convenient and accessible way to obtain cash at home and abroad and offer the best international exchange rate.
Research networks that accept your ATM card. Common worldwide networks include: Cirrus®, Honor®, Alert® and Pulse®. Activate and test new ATM cards before leaving home. Memorize your pin number. Don't write it on the card or a piece of paper in your wallet. Most cards have a daily cash limit that can only be increased in writing. If you get carried away shopping you can't call for an instant increase.

Claim your refundable sales tax when traveling out of country. Many countries offer tax refunds to tourists, though policies can widely vary. For instance, in Europe, visitors can get a VAT (value-added tax) refund if the total purchase is above a certain amount. To receive a refund, research the paperwork you'll need to complete and present to customs officials before leaving the country you are visiting. If you're lucky, some stores can assist you with this and reimburse your credit card immediately.

Forget the fanny pack. It screams "I am a Tourist. Here's my money." A neck pouch worn underneath clothing is the best way to protect cash and credit cards from pickpockets.
Always pay for travel and major purchases with credit cards. Most major credit cards offer buyer protection if purchases or services are never received or merchandise arrives damaged. Check with credit card providers for details on benefits.

Make photocopies of the front and back of credit cards and your driver's license, as well as the photo page of your passport. Leave one copy at home with family or a friend. Give one to a travel companion for safekeeping. If your wallet or passport is lost or stolen, you are prepared to quickly cancel credit cards and expedite passport replacement.

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