Money can be accessed through ATM cards, credit cards, traveler's checks and exchanging cash. If students study abroad for a semester, they might want to consider opening a bank account. Money in the form of cash or traveler's checks can be exchanged at airports, banks, large hotels, railroad stations, some tourist information centers and travel agencies. A commission or fee is charged every time money is exchanged. Banks and foreign exchange shops will usually give the best rate. A passport is usually required for exchanging money. Students should watch the exchange rates frequently to get the most for their money. Also students should be careful with whatever type of money they bring overseas. They need to use caution while using public transportation or in crowded areas where pick pocketing may happen.
Before going abroad, investigate the value of the US dollar against the foreign currency. The value changes often. Oanda.com and Xe.com are two good sources to find the exchange rate.
Many credit cards can be used worldwide, even for cash advances. The most widely accepted cards are VISA and MasterCard. Some credit card companies charge an extra one to three percent for international transactions. Check with the credit card company to determine the exact charge. Do not go over the credit card limit. Notify the bank, credit card or ATM card carrier that the card will be used overseas. Record the numbers of the credit cards and keep the list separate from the cards. If a card is stolen or lost, report it immediately to the credit card company and the local police.
ATM cards with a Cirrus or Plus designation usually can be used overseas at an ATM to get foreign currency. Some advantages of ATM cards is being able to access money 24 hours at an ATM, getting a low bank exchange rate, withdrawing directly from the checking account, and not having to pay a commission on the exchange. Some banks may charge an extra fee for international transactions. Check with the bank to find out if the card can be used overseas and if there are any added fees. ATM locator guides are available online through VISA.
Traveler's checks are a safe and convenient way to carry cash overseas. If lost or stolen, traveler's checks can be replaced. Keep a copy of the check receipts and the serial numbers in a safe place and separate from the checks themselves. Traveler's checks can be obtained at most banks in the U.S. and can be purchased in various denominations and currencies. Some U.S. banks charge a 1% commission charge for a traveler check. If the checks are purchased in dollars, the exchange value will vary depending on the exchange rate on the day it is cashed overseas. Banks abroad typically charge a commission fee to cash traveler's checks.
Emergency Money Transfers
If a student runs out of money and has needs emergency funds, money can be transferred or wired immediately by contacting Western Union at 1-800-325-6000 or American Express MoneyGram at 1-800-543-4080. The fees vary depending on the amount of money sent.
The Department of State's Office of Overseas Citizens Service can establish a trust account in the citizen's name to forward money overseas quickly.
Another way to receive money fast is through an ATM card. Have a family member or friend deposit money into the bank account.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney gives one person (agent) the power to take legal actions for another person (principal). Students will need a relative or friend to take care of their financial transactions while they are abroad. The person assigned the Power of Attorney can help by making deposits and withdraws, write checks, pay credit card bills, arrange for money transfers, as well as other matters. Banks frequently provide customers with their own Power of Attorney forms.
Ways to Save Abroad
With the international student ID card, students should utilize the discounts they can receive abroad. Ask students and the study abroad office at the host institution what discounts are available for students. Asking students from that country is helpful since they know where to look for the discounts and deals. Observe how people in the host country live, where they eat and where they shop. Living like a local should help save money. Also students might consider traveling locally instead of other countries from time to time. Instead of spending every weekend in another country, tour around and get to know the host city. Having a budget is a good idea to keep focused on how much money can be spent.
Images of Money
Check out pictures of money in foreign countries at Bank Notes.