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How to Stay Cash Positive while Traveling

Call first and carry many cards

For all my international travelers out there, pay attention. This two-part tip will save you some serious stress.

money when travelingmoney when travelingThe last thing you want while traveling is problems withdrawing money. Traveler's checks have gone the way of the dinos and most everyone relies on credit cards and ATM machines.

However, the companies who host the accounts for those plastic conveniences pay close attention to where the charges are coming from. So, if you make the majority of your purchases in California but are suddenly summoning charges from Nigeria, there's a good chance your credit card will be put on hold until the charges can be confirmed or denied. Many times the bank will call you before cutting your funds.

BUT does your cell phone work in Nigeria? Mine does not. Happily, a phone call is all it takes to avoid a financial draught.

  • Call your bank and your credit card company.
  • Tell them you're traveling and ask to please not leave you stranded in Turkey with no way to withdraw funds.
  • If you're going on an extended trip, you may need to call them back after 30 days because the notice often expires after that period. Your bank should be able to tell you the timeframe.

Which leads me to Part Two of this tip...

money frustrations abroadmoney frustrations abroadLet me tell you a little story.

I took all the appropriate precautionary steps to ensure my cash flow. I called. I carried my debit card, a credit card and an emergency credit card just in case. But, it wasn't enough.

While in Argentina, my bank cancelled my debit card, my lifeline.

After spending hours on the phone with them, I come to find out they cancelled it, not due to fraudulent activity, but because they decided it was time to mail me a new one to my house in CALIFORNIA. For whatever inane reason, this automatically cancelled the card I currently held - posing a slight problem on the cash-front.

It was annoying, but felt manageable because they said they could mail another card to Buenos Aires and I should receive it in three days.

Three days came and went. No card. I called back. The geniuses had mailed the replacement card to my house in CALIFORNIA. After spending hours crunched in a public phone booth in the entryway of the hotel, furious and flabbergasted don't even cover the depth of emotion I felt.

At this point time has run out. I'm scheduled to leave Buenos Aires, but still have a month left on the road.

feels better, gets nowherefeels better, gets nowhereThis felt like a headache within a migraine listening to a jackhammer in a small yet acoustically live space. Many places only accept cash and to get a cash advance on a card (which I couldn't do anyway because I didn't know the pin - know your pin) is to invite the credit card company to beat you mercilessly with interest and fees until you are limp and bloody.

No thank you. I think I'll pass.

Fortunately it worked out due to a friend, a money transfer and a shared debit card , which we almost lost two weeks later - another story.

My point being: While I wouldn't recommend bringing your entire arsenal of plastic money along, carrying both an emergency credit card AND an emergency debit card will keep the cash flowing and your good time going.

Happy travels!

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