Morgan Stanley
  • Wealth Management
  • Jan 6, 2020

Smart Money Moves When Traveling Abroad

Consider these tips when planning for foreign travel and perhaps save yourself time, money and headaches.

You've just completed an exquisite dinner on your European vacation, only to have your credit card declined because your bank suspected a fraudulent international charge and froze your account. Or, maybe you didn't have time to exchange your currency before catching your plane, but because you're leaving a “closed currency" country, you're leaving behind a significant amount of money. Or, upon returning home and reviewing your vacation expenses, you find you were charged a litany of ATM and foreign transaction fees.

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Vacationers often overlook money matters that may save precious time, money and just plain headaches when traveling internationally. Much of this planning surrounds the handling of your cash, debit and credit cards.  Here are a few tips and considerations for foreign travel, along with a look at Morgan Stanley’s suite of cash management services that can help.

Using Cash Abroad

Cash can be one of the most cost-effective and convenient forms of payment when you're out of the country, but key considerations remain. For instance, you'll still need to know the exchange rate and whether it's a closed currency country—meaning money can't be exchanged outside the borders. Keep this in mind because you'll need to either spend or exchange any remaining foreign currency before you leave the country.

For certain open currencies, Morgan Stanley's GlobalCurrency ExpressSM service may help you bypass the hassle and expense of foreign exchange counters. GlobalCurrency Express delivers as many as 17 different currencies and your order is directly delivered to your door via FedEx approximately one (1) business day after your phone order is placed. 

Payment Cards

These days, the ongoing battles between thieves and financial institutions can create some unexpected collateral damage. Banks can quickly shut down your account after noticing your card was used in a foreign country. Before departing, it’s always a good idea to notify your bank that you plan to use your cards overseas. This helps limit the possibility of having your card declined or your account frozen if your bank suspects fraudulent activity.

Also, foreign transaction fees can rapidly add up when using your debit card to make purchases or cash withdrawals abroad. If you withdraw local currency at an ATM, your bank could charge you $1 to $5, and you could pay 1% to 3% of the transaction amount. The owner of the ATM may even tack on an additional fee. With the CashPlus Account, clients do not incur foreign transactions fees when they use the Morgan Stanley Debit Card  and they receive unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide at more than 2 million ATMs. 

Protecting Yourself From Fraud

While debit card fraud is a risk both at home and abroad, it’s one of the last things you want to deal with while traveling. Take common sense steps to prevent criminals from gaining access to your card number. Also consider limiting your debit card use to ATM withdrawals at banks, which may have better security.

The Morgan Stanley Debit Card also helps reduce the risk of fraud through chip and PIN technology, a global standard in security that encrypts your information. In addition, you can stay up to date on your Debit Card activity with alerts that are right for you. You can monitor transactions made outside the U.S. or track transactions made online or over the phone.

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