Financial safety while on vacation

This is a good one! Financial safety is not something we typically think about when we’re heading off to fun locales for some good times and relaxation. We should though, shouldn’t we?

What should I bring with me for purchases?

It’s smart to lighten up your wallet as much as possible. It’s best to use a credit card for any major purchases as most credit cards have zero-liability policies, meaning you won’t have to pay for unauthorized charges if your card is lost or stolen. Bring an ATM/debit card for withdrawing cash at ATM’s. Leave unnecessary items at home, such as your checkbook, Social Security card, and credit cards you won’t be using. Also, make a photo copy of your health insurance cards and leave the originals at home.

Is it safe to use ATM’s while on vacation?

Using an ATM to withdraw small amounts of cash as needed is likely safer than carrying a bunch of cash on you, but watch out for bogus ATM’s. Thieves place phony ATM machines at high-traffic tourist areas. So stick to ATM’s that are near banks or in airports or hotels. Be sure to keep a close eye on your bank account to watch for any potential fraud.

Should I let my financial institution know I’m going on vacation?

It’s important to alert your financial institution and credit card companies before any upcoming travel plans. If you don’t, they may think your card has been stolen and shut down your credit or ATM cards which could be very inconvenient if you’re traveling. This is especially important if you will be traveling outside of the United States.

What types of things should I watch out for?

Don't get too comfortable in your hotel room. There are several people who have access to your room. Put your passport, backup credit cards, copies of financial information and extra cash in the safe in your hotel room. And be sure to lock up your laptop, camera and iPod whenever you aren't using them. Be extra alert in crowded situations and tourist hotspots. Thieves are drawn to where there are large groups of people and easily distracted targets. Watch out for pickpockets; never leave a bag or purse on the floor or hanging off the back of a chair in a restaurant. Be sure to monitor your credit and debit card transactions as often as possible.

Be cautious, be aware of your surroundings, make smart decisions, and remember to have fun!