Know before you go: Planning your holiday finances
Keep a track of your transactions and account activity even when you're travelling. (Shutterstock)
Excited about your summer travel plans? Before leaving, it's always a good idea to plan out your holiday finances well in advance. While you may have booked and paid for your tickets, hotel and car rentals, there are still other expenses such as shopping and food which you will be paying for on your holiday. If you're flying out soon, make sure your finances are covered to have a worry free holiday.
Carrying a certain amount of foreign currency in hand is a must, but your credit card can also be useful and save you the hassle of having a large bundles of cash.
Most credit cards can be used at most shops and cash machines internationally. However, there is a cost associated with purchases or cash withdrawals abroad. Below are some useful tips to manage your card and protect yourself from fraud while you are travelling.
Tell your bank about your holiday
The first step is to make sure your card is not expiring anytime soon and will stay valid throughout your travel period. Check your card's credit limit to be sure of how much credit you can use. Inform your bank or card provider of your travel plans at least 24 hours in advance to prevent your card from getting blocked. Also, provide your bank with your latest contact details, including your contact number while abroad.
Know your bank charges
Check the charges you will have to pay when using your credit card abroad. Most credit cards charge a foreign exchange fees (forex fees) on your credit card purchases overseas, which generally add to one to three percent of your total purchase.
You will often be asked whether you would like to pay in local currency or in dirhams, while making purchases abroad. If you opt for paying in dirhams, the merchant will charge you a conversion rate to convert your purchase. However the forex fee can be waived off in this case. So you need to weigh the two costs - The forex fee charged by the bank vs the conversion rate you're being charged by the merchant.
Always have a backup plan
It's good to carry a backup credit/debit card, in case your main one gets lost or stolen. Avoid keeping all your cards in the same place or wallet. It's important to ensure you don't lose all your cards and cash if you lose your wallet or bag. Never share your PIN with anyone, including bank personnel, shopkeepers and hotel staff.
Keep information handy
Carry contact details of your bank or credit card provider in case you have an emergency and need to get in touch with them. In the event your card is lost or stolen abroad, you must report it immediately to your bank and the local law enforcement authorities. Save receipts of all transactions, whether retail purchases, hotel and restaurant bills or ATM withdrawals. You can use these to check against your card statements when you are back.
Monitor your activity
Keep a track of your transactions and account activity even when you're travelling. Check balances online to make sure there is no fraudulent activity on your cards. Avoid using internet connections like public Wi-Fi hotspots which are less secure. Keep your card within your sight at all times, even if you're on the move. Pay using cash at places you are not sure can be trusted.
By Ambareen Musa
The writer is the founder and chief executive officer of Souqalmal.com. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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