Before I went abroad, I had the crazy notion that I would bring all of the cash I had saved for my trip with me in my carry on. Boy, was I wrong. I am going to link a useful website I found for tips about how to access money while abroad.
To begin with, I would suggest making sure your ATM/ debit card has a chip. Most places in England will not accept the “swipe” cards because they have converted to chips. “Swipe” cards are also WAY MORE susceptible to getting your information stolen. Also make sure to sign the back of your credit card. Places like the Co-Op will check the back of your card for your signature to compare it to the receipt you sign. If not, they will check your driver’s license signature.
My roommate got her credit card information stolen and her card cloned by what we assume was an ATM skimmer. The link will explain in further detail what exactly to look out for. What happened with my roommate was when she tried to use the ATM, the machine seemed to “malfunction” but still recorded her pin. The scammers then cloned her card.
You also need to make sure to let your bank know ahead of time that you will be studying abroad, what country you will be in, for how long you will be there and what other countries you plan to visit.
The way I drew out money, which seemed to be easier than using my card everywhere, was by going to ATM’s in banks to withdraw. I felt more secure withdrawing from there because there was that added security that you were inside a monitored bank.
Another option you have is to take cash with you and to get it exchanged. Some of the problems I saw with doing that is that some exchange places absolutely rip you off. You need to be careful about who you exchange with. Some places may not have the most up to date exchange rates that may end up hurting you. ATMs typically have the most current exchange rate, which is why I chose to pull money from them. I would take around £300 out at a time since I also got charged a withdraw fee from my bank.
I also invested in a RFID wallet, which I used because I wanted a compact wallet and for the added security. There are articles out there that suggest you don’t need an RFID wallet, so make sure to research and make an informed decision.
I hope these tips were helpful to all of you future and returning travelers! My next blogpost will be about my experience with the NHS, which is England’s National Health Service. Make sure to follow my Instagram @handbookforthetravelingstudent. Thanks for reading!