If your job or lifestyle requires you to travel a lot, managing your finances can be challenging. Fortunately, it's a challenge that can be simplified by just following a few rules.
1. Choose Automatic Bill Payments
If you switch your bills to automatic payments, you can figure out how much money to set aside in your checking account just for those bills. It's relatively easy to switch most bills as most companies allow you to do it over the phone or online. It's also a good idea for the environment since less paper is being sent to your house. Finally, it'll mean you won't be surprised by late fees or shut-offs when you come back home.
2. Choose Credit and Debit Cards for Travelers
You should know that some cards are better suited for frequent travelers than others. If you travel outside the United States, most credit cards have fees of as much as four percent for purchases. These small fees can add up to large expenses. A good solution is to find a platinum credit card or debit card that has little to no foreign transaction fees or fees for using ATMs from other banks. While many of these accounts require excellent credit to obtain, more accessible options are available through credit unions.
3. Make Sure You and Your Bank Know What You Have
Before you head out on your trip, make an inventory of everything you have in your wallet or purse. You can put this on your phone or a scrap of paper, and it's a good idea to put it on both in case you lose your phone. If you lose your wallet or purse, you'll know just what needs to be replaced, from credit cards to social security cards.
Another good idea is to let your bank know that you'll be away and that you'll be using certain cards on your trip. This way, you won't be flagged by the bank for using your cards, and the bank can inform you if one of your other cards has been used without your knowledge.
4. Find the Best Exchange Rates
The first thing you should do is check the exchange rate for your destination's currency about four weeks before you head off. You should also make sure what currency type your destination has. This may seem obvious, but many travelers are caught off guard when they arrive. For example, France uses Euros while Norway uses Krones. You should also make sure to know a country's laws about buying currency.
When you reach your destination, your best option for local currency is to use an ATM since ATMs from reputable banks usually offer the best exchange rates. Otherwise, look up the rate in real-time and shop around for reputable banks that offer the closest to the official rate.
5. Don't Tip Too Much
Believe it or not, most countries don't require tipping on the same level as the United States. Since many countries give their workers higher wages, you won't need to offer large tips like you do back home. In many countries, you'll receive a bill with a service charge already added. A good rule of thumb is to round up to the nearest even number. You can also leave up to five percent if you're impressed by your server.