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Before taking a family trip this summer, make sure you have a plan to keep your financial and personal information safe.
The school year is over and summer break is here! Millions of Americans will be hitting the roadways and airways on vacations over the next few months.
According to a AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans – 4 in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation this year, with the majority being road trips.
A successful trip starts with a plan. When planning, always keep your family’s financial security in mind. Whether you’re traveling the country, making a short trek, or going on an overseas getaway, it’s important to make sure your money and personal information are secure.
Before you go, here are a few things you should know:
Let your bank know if you’re traveling overseas
For those leaving the states, let your bank and credit card company know where you’re going and for how long. Giving them a head’s up will ensure purchases and withdrawals made during the trip won’t be flagged as suspicious.
Know where your credit card can be used
It’s a good idea to make sure your credit card can be used where you’re going before heading out. Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted by most merchants around the world. American Express and Discover, not so much.
It’s also a good idea to bring two different cards just in case something happens with one while you’re gone.
Keep some cash handy
While having two different credit cards is a good idea, having some cash on hand is too. No matter where you go, cold hard paper and coin currency is always accepted.
How to contact your bank in case of an emergency
We never hope or expect something to go wrong on vacation, but it’s always best to be prepared just in case. Keep your financial institution’s phone number stored on your phone and bookmark the website on your web browser.
Download your financial institution’s mobile app
An easy way to keep track of your accounts while away is with mobile apps. Many banks and credit card companies allow you to set up notifications through their mobile apps to let customers know when there is unusual or unauthorized activity on the account.
Set up automatic bill payments
The longer you’re going to be gone, the higher the chance you could miss an important payment. Before you leave, check all your regular monthly bills to see if they’re set up for automatic payments. It will make life a lot easier and help you avoid late fees.
Also, it’s good to know when those payments are coming out so you don’t suddenly have less money in your account than you thought while out of town.
Watch the Wi-Fi
Using that free, public Wi-Fi to save on data seems like a good idea, especially when you’re out at a restaurant. But make sure that network is secure. Ask an employee for the specific network name and whether it requires a passcode. Using free, open Wi-Fi could allow hackers to watch your phone. Also, just to play it safe, don’t access your personal or financial information on any unsecured networks.
Look into getting travel insurance before you head out. Travel insurance can cover anything from medical expenses and theft of belongings to cancelled trips. Also, review your auto policy before getting a rental car to make sure you’re covered.
The best idea is to call your insurance provider and see what you have covered and what they have to offer.
Use this as a teaching opportunity
Bringing the kids along on this vacation? Use this opportunity to teach them about budgeting. Give the kids a prepaid card to spend on souvenirs and those impulse buys. It’s a great way to get them thinking about managing money and keep you from having to say “no” as often.
Check your cell service
If you plan on traveling abroad and are taking your phone, make sure you know your international roaming rates.
T-Mobile and Sprint offer free international roaming, but restrict data speeds unless you pay more. AT&T and Verizon offer affordable international day passes. Also, make sure to turn off your cellular data when using your smartphone or tablet if you don’t want to pay extra.
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