Handling Your Finances While Abroad


Congratulations! You’re going to study abroad. Now it’s time to figure out how to handle your finances while romping around some exotic destination. Here is some information to keep in mind while planning to study abroad:

Credit or Debit Card: If you do not have one, try to get one before you leave. It is very helpful in booking flights, hostels, hotels etc. Credit cards also have the best exchange rates and can be used in most major cities worldwide. Make sure to let your bank know you will be out of the country so they do not put a hold on your card when you spend overseas. Also, check with your bank and make sure the credit/debit card that you have will be accepted abroad.

ATM Card: Before you travel abroad, make sure the bank that issues your ATM card is part of an international network. You can either find this information online or by calling your bank. Also, many ATMs – especially in Europe – ask for a four digit pin. If your pin is longer than 4 digits, you can enter the first four digits and that will most likely work. Also, many ATMs have hefty transaction fees of up to $10! If you have a safe place to store cash, it is a good idea to take a large amount out at once (but store it quickly after!) to avoid these fees. Travelers Checks: Personally, I did not use these while I was abroad and most people on my program did not find them useful. It is sometimes easier to go to the ATM and take money out than to find a place to cash travelers checks. However, if you do loose them, they can be replaced (unlike cash). It’s really a personal decision.

What happens if I loose my cash, credit/debit card and ATM card? First – make sure you cancel them! If they are lost or stolen someone else can easily use them. Also, there are many Western Unions throughout the world where family or friends at home can wire you money in a tight situation. www.westernunion.com and www.moneygram.com are two ways to have money sent anywhere throughout the world.

Passport: When using a credit/debit card or cashing travelers checks you may be asked to show identification. Usually, places will only accept a passport as a legitimate form of identification. 

Remember: It is very helpful to have photocopies of all of your credit/debit/atm cards as well as travelers checks and passport – you never know when you might need them!