Summer vacation travels
Buying plane tickets and booking a hotel room may be the most expensive part of booking a vacation. But on-the-ground spending for food and entertainment can still add up to hundreds of dollars. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com gives tips on how to handle your finances on the road.
Notify your banks that you are traveling. The fastest way to an empty wallet on vacation is a fraud alert on a credit or debit card that locks the account. And the odds of that are pretty high if you don't notify the bank that ATM transactions or a credit card purchase may suddenly be popping up. Call the customer service line for each account to let them know the dates of your trip and, if possible, a number to reach you.
Pack the right credit card. It's smart to compare cards in your wallet. Some cover insurance on rental cars, which could save you $25 a day. Others trigger free room upgrades and other perks at partner hotels. A number don't charge exchange fees on foreign transactions, which cuts 4% from a bill.
Weigh the exchange rates. If you're traveling abroad, generally, paying by credit card is your best bet for a low exchange rate. Just make sure you're charged in the local currency, not dollars. Want cash? Use your debit card at an ATM as needed. Hotel exchange desks and currency exchange bureaus at airports tend to have the worst rates. The difference can be enough to cover a few meals or purchases.
Don't take a vacation from your budget, stick to it. Set out in advance how much you can afford to spend total. Break that down by day, or category: food, souvenirs, and so on. Keep tally daily, so you don't have unexpected bills when you get home - or worse, run out of cash mid trip.
Daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social make it easy to hunt down discounts at your destination before you even leave home. Once you're there, you can use a smartphone to get similar discounts on the fly. Coupon apps and Foursquare can make it easy to snag other deals on your phone, too.
For more information on controlling your finances while traveling and other consumer tips click here.
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