How to keep your money safe when travelling
11 December 2020
Holidays are all about relaxation, exploration, and having your money stolen. No, wait… that last one doesn’t quite fit. Of course, no one wants the stress of having their hard-earned cash going missing when they’re trying to enjoy a vacation (or any time, for that matter). But there’s something about being in a foreign country, quite often as an obvious tourist, that can put a bit of a target on your back for potential pickpockets.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you manage your money safely when travelling, and take a few extra precautionary steps that you might not usually bother with when you’re milling about your hometown.
Top tips for keeping your money safe as a tourist
Keep your cash in several locations
There’s a reason that old saying warns against keeping all of your eggs in one basket. If you stash all your money in one spot – like your wallet, for example – it can make it easier for someone to come along and take it all.
Instead, divide up your cash so that some of it’s on you when you’re out and about (and spending it), and some of it’s safely locked in the safe in your hotel room. If you have multiple card options, it’s also worth separating those so that if one goes missing, you still have a backup.
Have a plan in place before you go
These days, you have plenty of options for how you want to access and spend your money when you’re overseas, so you can find the one that fits your needs. Whether you want to get a travel card specifically for your trip, keep using your regular bank card, or go a different route, it’s important to explore your options and decide what’s going to work best for you before you take off.
Cash is (not necessarily) king
Having cash on hand is definitely useful, especially as some places don’t have card facilities for you to pay with. That being said, it’s important to be wise with the amount of cash you keep with you (in all of your stash spots, that is) and be prepared to put bigger purchases on card. That’s much better than flashing around larger bills in front of everyone in the souvenir store.
Be safe at ATMs
You might already be aware of all the safety precautions you should take using an ATM, such as:
- make sure no one is standing too close by you;
- cover your hand when you’re entering your PIN;
- and don’t use a machine that’s in a dimly lit area or that looks like it’s been tampered with.
When you’re travelling, there’s an additional precaution you can take. Being in a foreign country, particularly one where they speak a language you don’t understand fluently, you might have a bit of trouble at the ATM. The look of panic/confusion on your face can be pretty easy to spot from a mile away for a scammer, who may have a card skimmer that allows them to read your card details if they get close enough to you. For that reason, it’s important to never accept help from a stranger when using an ATM, under any circumstances.
Keep a small amount of cash easily accessible
If you go to pay for something and find yourself thumbing through a large wad of cash trying to get the right amount, you can increase your chances of being targeted. Rather than showing off how much money you’ve got on you, keep small amounts of cash in accessible parts of your wallet so you can easily get it when you need to.
You can do this by either dividing your cash into segments throughout your wallet, or organising yourself somewhere away from crowds (think bathroom stalls or your hotel room, not dark alleyways). That way you’ll have the cash you need on hand before you enter a store, restaurant, or wherever you’re going.
Study your new currency
In a similar vein, it’s ideal to make sure you’re across what the currency you’re dealing with looks like, so you’re not a) holding up the line pouring through your wallet in a flustered manner and b) dumping all your cash out on the counter in an attempt to get a better look at it.
We don’t mean you have to create flash cards and memorise every single coin of the country you’re in, but at least have a look to get a general feel for them – especially the more important (i.e. more valuable) coins or notes.
Keeping your money safe when travelling doesn’t have to be a huge burden – with a little bit of extra caution, awareness and savviness, you can spend less time chasing up stolen cash and more time, well, spending!
Plan ahead with your banking too
With Suncorp’s Everyday Options Account, there are no foreign currency conversion fees*, which can really add up when you're travelling overseas. If you're still saving for your trip, the Everyday Options Account allows you to split your money into sub-accounts for specific savings goals. Plus, there are no account keeping fees and you can apply for an account online in minutes.
Read more on Learn About:
- Saving for your trip-of-a-lifetime
- Do I really need travel insurance?
- Planning a holiday on a budget
* A Suncorp Visa Debit Card is required. To be eligible for a Suncorp Bank Visa Debit Card you must be 16 years of age or older. If not eligible you will receive a Suncorp Bank eftpos card. Visa functionality provided by Visa Inc. Deposit Products are issued by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ("Suncorp Bank") ABN 66 010 831 722 AFSL No 229882. Please read the Product Information Document before opening an account. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available on request. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.