Whether you’re off to Portugal for a fortnight, or a two-night trip to Paris, it’s always worth having a financial checklist to tick off before you jet off, to make sure you’ll be protected while you’re away.
There’s nothing worse than taking your soon-to-expire credit card and discovering it expires “next month” – only days after you’ve arrived!
1. Are you set up properly for online banking? Make sure you’re set up properly for internet banking and have any pin cards or password codes you’ll need – you never know, you might need to make a transfer while you’re away.
2. Check your card dates You’re travelling from 29 June and the card you took with you expires in July? Not good. Check the expiry date on your credit, debit or prepaid cards to be doubly sure they’re valid for your entire trip. Especially important if you plan to be abroad for more than a few weeks.
3. Make copies and keep them separate Take photocopies of your passport (all the relevant pages) and bank cards then keep the copies in a completely separate place, away from the originals.
4. Tell your bank you’re travelling Nowadays some banks don’t require you to inform them if you’re travelling BUT it’s in your own interests to do so, anyway. The last thing you need when you’re topping up on a cash withdrawal at the ATM in the Algarve is for your card to be declined. Banks have good anti-fraud measures in force in the unfortunate event that your card’s lost or stolen, so make sure you have the “lost or stolen card” phone number to call if this happens and tell them before you leave (or make a note online in your account details) that you’ll be away from X date to Y date and in which countries. It sounds obvious also, but if you do lose your card or your wallet gets stolen, don’t email the bank to tell them – call them on that “lost or stolen card” number immediately.
5. Plug important numbers into your mobile and keep a separate note in your diary or somewhere safe. It’s the holiday nightmare but mobiles do go missing, so make sure you’ve got all your important numbers saved both on your mobile and – importantly – on paper as well.
6. Check if your bank has branches in your destination Some banks don’t have any branches at all in certain countries, while others are well represented in, say, the popular timeshare destinations of Spain, France and Portugal. Check before you leave because if something happens it will might in an emergency if they do have a bank near you or at least in the country you’re in. If they don’t, you’ll definitely be phoning your bank back home in the UK.
7. Carry less cash You’ll always need cash – that little Greek taverna, the Algarve village café, to buy a couple of postcards…but it’s safer not to carry around wads of it – just enough to comfortably get you through the day.
8. Know your own number? Just like remembering important phone numbers, it doesn’t hurt to know your sort code and account digits off by heart, and you can store them on your phone (but disguised as phone numbers!) Speaking of numbers, it sounds ridiculous but if you don’t know your phone number off by heart, write it on a piece of paper, you never know when you’ll need to give it to someone, e.g. in some kind of unexpected emergency.
9.Don’t risk a dodgy ATM machine. If you see people having problems with the old, sun-scorched ATM you’ve just arrived at, or it just doesn’t seem to be working right, don’t take the risk and try to jam your card in and see it get stuck! – it’s wiser to find a newer one close by, if there is another option a few minutes walk away.
10. Store cards separately Never – ever!! – keep all your cards in one place, one wallet, one bag. If you lose it, you’ve lost everything and if it’s stolen, the thieves will get everything, leaving you in a very vulnerable position with zero back up for cash withdrawals, hotel payments, flight reservations, or a way to pay for dinner. Split your cards up – so keep one at the hotel (in the safe if there is one in your room), and keep one on you.