Access to money is vitally important to all travelers. Stock your bank account before you go and consider how you will pay for your expenses while traveling. Take at least three credit/debit cards and a modest amount of cash. Store them in different areas of your luggage. Inform your bank(s) of your travel plans. If you don’t, they may temporarily freeze your account(s). Write down the customer service phone number(s) and your account number(s) in case you need to cancel your card(s) for any reason.

Debit Card

A debit card is the easiest way to obtain cash at ATM machines, widely available in most countries. Request a card with an embedded chip and pin system. Inform yourself of bank fees for withdrawals. Withdrawal fees tend to be less with Credit Unions, Charles Schwab, and the CapitalOne 360 internet bank. Be sure you have and know your four-digit PIN number.

Credit Card

Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than Discover and American Express. Foreign transaction and foreign usage fees vary widely. Card Hub contains a list of credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee. Be sure to arrange monthly payments at home to avoid finance charges.


Carry a modest amount of cash in a major currency with you (US Dollars or Euros). Cash may be exchanged at banks or exchange bureaus, although a commission is usually charged. Most students rely on their debit card to obtain local currency while traveling.

Money Transfers

Money can be transferred among bank accounts using platforms like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, Xoom, or TransferWise. These services are handy for sharing expenses with others in your group and for parents or others at home to deposit money into your account. Western Union is a great service to get money in an emergency situation. Your parents or friends can send money to you virtually anywhere in the world (for a fee).