By: Robert Vandenbergh
This summer, 86 percent of Americans will take a vacation and the decisions they make about how they manage their money will ultimately influence the cost of the trip.
It’s often better to pay with cash to avoid the fees associated with credit cards. You also don’t have to dread the credit card bill that arrives the following month after your trip! But it’s not wise, or practical, to travel with large sums of cash. The money could be stolen or lost, and you’d have no way to recover it. That’s why more and more consumers are using their debit cards.
Debit cards are convenient and, like our own Lakeland Bank debit card
, come with a secure code that offers extra protection against unauthorized use. Plus, debit cards are especially useful when you’re in a foreign country and want to get local currency. Simply visit an ATM to get money, usually without the high exchange rate fees.
Debit cards are a good alternative to cash for many expenses. They help keep you on budget as you’re less likely to overspend with a debit card since you can track each transaction deducted from your bank account balance.
Credit cards, on the other hand, may encourage you to spend more than you have. With the interest that can accumulate with each bill, your vacation could end up costing you more than the actual price tag if you don’t pay it off right away.
A Time and Place for Every Type of Payment
That doesn’t mean you should leave the cash and credit cards at home. Both are well- suited for certain functions.
For example, cash is ideal for tipping and incidental purchases. Make sure you have plenty of small bills in local currency for these uses.
In addition, you’ll want to bring credit cards for those instances where debit cards may not be accepted, such as using room service or other hotel amenities. Credit cards also offer protection against unauthorized use, and many credit cards offer rewards from frequent flyer miles to cash back.
Security Tips for Traveling with Debit Cards
Since debit cards are linked to your personal bank account, there are some precautions that you should take when you use them while traveling. Here are some financial security tips for while you’re away from home this summer.
- Before you go, alert your bank that you will be traveling. Include the dates you’ll be away and your destination. Otherwise, your bank could freeze your account if they are alerted to a transaction in a location far from your home. Banks do this to protect your account from theft, but it can be inconvenient if it happens to you on vacation.
- Provide a contact number for your bank so they can reach you if they have any concerns about your debit card activity. A cell number is best, but if you’re traveling internationally, your cell phone may not work so the hotel you are staying at is a good alternative.
- Find out whether your bank will charge a fee to use another bank’s ATM. If you’re using an ATM in another country, be aware that international banks may charge a fee. Often, such fees are less than the cost to convert dollars to local currency, but you can check inside an international bank to be sure.
- Choose a debit card that comes with identify theft monitoring. Lakeland Bank’s Elite Checking includes identify theft monitoring and protection, and has the added benefits of shopping, dining, travel and health discounts.
- Don’t leave personal banking information in your hotel room or bank online using the hotel computer. This may allow someone to access your account, whether or not they can physically access your debit card.
For other tips on managing your money while traveling, check out this video
For tips on how to save money on vacation, read our latest blog post
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about other financial matters that matter to you.