August is near — the time that most Europeans pack up and take off on a vacation — either to the mountain, the beach or abroad.
Here are 6 very useful tips that you can consider to protect your money during this year’s unforgettable holiday season – whether you are alone, with friends or your family.
1. Warn your bank about your travel plans
Avoid being blocked out of your money, just when you land and you need it the most. Your bank is highly likely to block your card immediately after you try to use it at an unusual location. We recommend that you contact your financial institution and inform them of your holiday itinerary.
Banks monitor your transactions and react upon suspicious ones. They know your usual ATM withdrawal locations and attempting a charge from another country or continent, is highly likely to be suspected as a fraud transaction, resulting in the card being blocked for your own protection.
This is now a common practice that got established in order to protect people from card theft – stolen or skimmed. Many of the card issuers choose to proactively block cards during charge attempts to avoid administrative costs and frustrated clients.
If you are with iCard, on a Standard plan, there is no need to inform us, except when you travel to Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Mexico or Thailand.
The reason we don’t block your card is simple. Usually, thieves can only copy the magnetic stripe information from your card. iCard does not allow transactions made with the mag stripe and PIN. We prefer the more secure option of chip + PIN because chip information cannot be copied.
This is why we don’t block your transaction, so you can proceed with your vacation and …
2. Watch out for ridiculous exchange rates and fees
Have you ever taken money out of an ATM in a foreign country that uses a different currency? If “YES”, then it’s likely that you’ve seen a similar screen message:
It’s misleading because selecting “Decline” usually gives you better exchange terms. If you intuitively “Accept” to proceed with the transaction (conversion), you agree to the ATM provider exchange rate and the ridiculous 12% commission, which in this particular case will set you back an extra 25 Euros.
Opt for creating one or more free currency account, with an iBAN, in your iCard and fund it with the local money to avoid exchanging cash when you arrive. This way you will protect yourself from being ripped off either at an ATM-like the one above or at currency exchange shops.
3. Use iCard when paying abroad in the local currency
iCard gives you the freedom to open up multiple free accounts in 7 different currencies and each with its own IBAN for bank transfers.
One way to take advantage of this option is to use it for storing holiday money in it.
Even if you travel to a country which currency we do not support in iCard, you can still use the different methods of payment we give you. All transactions are updated in real-time and any currency conversions are done on our side using standard bank exchange rates.
Here is one more tip that can be extremely useful:
4. Take an extra debit card with you
Losing or having your debit card stolen is not nice at all and involves lots of inconveniences. This can be very costly when you are far away from home in another country and an ATM, for example, eats your card.
iCard gives you the chance to order an additional debit card and connect it to any of your accounts in order to spend its balance.
We highly recommend keeping this card separate from your wallet.
Then, just take one debit card when you head out and the rest you should keep in your hotel room safety box.
If you still manage to lose your debit card – DO NOT WORRY – you can immediately block it through the iCard app.
5. Leave your passport in your hotel along with the cash you don’t plan to spend
Locking your passport in your hotel may turn out a smart decision when you go out to the beach or partying.
When on holiday, your daily worries are left behind, but this should not allow you to let your guard down. You should be well aware of the risks, so you can stay protected … and successfully board the flight back home.
Losing a lot of cash money carries the same consequences as losing your passport – lots of unpredicted expenses. To stay on the safe side, we recommend leaving the money you don’t plan to spend along with your passport – in your hotel room safe.
Bringing a few copies of your passport and a few extra passport pictures is a must! Store these in your wallet, in your backpack, in the suitcase and with the other people that travel with you.
In case of losing your passport, a copy in hand may help you board the flight home, where you can deal with the problem in a less stressful way.
Keep in mind that you can also safely pay with your NFC-enabled Android phone anywhere contactless cards are accepted for purchases.
6. Insure your travel
Travel insurance is really popular lately. This kind of protection usually covers medical expenses and other costs you incur in case of lost stuff, delayed or cancelled flights, broken or lost luggage and even theft.
We highly recommend getting insured and stay tuned for an update from us. We will very soon offer iCard clients special travel insurance available directly through the digital wallet.
Four bonus ideas for even nicer adventures:
1. Take extra camera batteries
You got so far from home, it’s beautiful, the day is young, but your camera battery is almost dead. You say to yourself: “No problem!” because you have a phone that takes decent pictures. It’s still bright outside and you meet lots of new people. Make sure that the memories are captured — take an extra camera battery or a power bank, so you can take lots of pics and keep in touch with the people who await you home.
2. Learn a few new phrases and talk to the locals
They are usually ecstatic when a stranger speaks in a funny way their language. Not acting as a “standard” foreign tourist is the way to better connect with the new place — you can make friends and discover hidden gems, cheap restaurants or unexpected adventures.
3. Get lost on purpose
Aimless walking around a new town is a very good way to get to know it and see it through the eyes of the locals. Get out of the tourist paths to discover colorful places and enhance your adventure. You might also consider my personal recommendation to use an old-school tourist map on paper, rather than Google maps. This is a completely different and immersive experience.
4. Book your museum and attraction tickets in advance
Lots of central spots attract masses of tourists, but you can avoid the mainstream by buying a ticket the day before and skip the hour-long queues. With your ticket, you can get straight through the door.
No matter where you are headed, iCard digital wallet can be there with you.