SmartMoney Monday: Travel Tips

SmartMoney Monday - Travel Tips

This week, we're featuring the last question on things you can do to help meet your 2015 financial goals. Now with the holidays here, people are looking to travel.  Bank of Hawaii's Kyle Ishimitsu, Branch Manager of the Kaneohe Branch, is here to help us answer a question about traveling wisely during the holidays.

How can I plan ahead with my financial institution for domestic and foreign travel this holiday season?   When it comes to traveling, should someone carry cash, or use another type of currency?

Cash is generally preferred and accepted. However, if you lose cash, there's no way to trace it back to you.  For traveler's cheques and debit or ATM cards, both have features that mitigate risk.  With lost traveler's cheques, if you recall which ones were used, you could get your money back.  With debit or ATM cards, you can call your financial institution to have your card shut down, once you realize your card has been lost.  If there are any unauthorized charges, you can alert your financial institution and have those charges disputed.

How about fees for foreign transactions?  Can those types of fees be avoided?

Some credit cards will offer no foreign transaction fees.  Review the services offered for your credit card, especially when using it abroad.  Some cards may charge between 3-5% of the transaction amount, just for being used in a foreign country. This could apply for debit cards as well, since they also have foreign transaction fees for ATM withdrawals and POS purchases. Check with your financial institution and credit card holder.  They should be able to give you this information.

You should also remember to get your foreign currency ahead of time. Put in an order in advance through your financial institution, as it could take upwards of 2-5 business days to get to your local branch. You should also notify your bank of your travel dates, since bank cards and accounts could potentially be flagged for out-of-ordinary purchases.  You would hate to not have a working card while traveling. And one last tip-stop your mail through the post office, or have someone pick up your mail daily.  Fraudsters are always on the lookout for overflowing mailboxes or mail that hasn't been touched for days.

Thank you for those tips on best practices for traveling during the holiday season. Happy Holidays!