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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Going abroad isn’t as simple as booking a flight and lifting off. Your finances need preparation ahead of time!
  • Your accounts could be frozen due to suspicious activity if you don’t let your bank know where you’ll be traveling. 
  • Plan ahead and automate your bills so you don’t have to worry about missing payments while you’re away.

Time to Read

3 minutes

September 30, 2022

Spending time overseas can be a thrilling adventure. You’re surrounded by new sights, exotic foods and maybe even a different language. But have you considered how your finances will translate? Make the most of your experience with these 6 financial tips.

  • Find a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. If you’re making a short trip, taking a hit on a few small transaction fees might not be concerning. However, if you plan to stay awhile, consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. You may even be able to earn rewards that can go toward travel expenses.
  • Bring copies of travel and financial information. If you’re visiting abroad, you should have copies of information, such as your passport, airline tickets, driver’s license and credit cards. For longer stays, where you plan to work or purchase property, also have copies of your foreign visa, tax forms from the last 2 years, recent pay stubs, a complete list of debts and a complete list of assets. Bonus tip: Before signing anything in a foreign language, you may want to have it professionally translated so you have a clear understanding of your actual agreement.
  • Have multiple forms of payment. Do some research on what forms of payment will be accepted in your destination. Outside of cash, credit and debit cards are generally widely accepted—plus, you can easily cancel them if they’re lost or stolen. Don’t forget, they can be used globally at ATMs if you need to make a payment in cash. Consider carrying at least 2 cards (not tied to the same account), even if you plan on only using 1.
  • Inform your financial institutions. Using your credit or debit card abroad with no previous notice to your financial institution can result in your account being frozen. After all, that kind of activity may lead them to presume that your information was stolen and is being used fraudulently. Avoid this situation by letting customer service know where you’re traveling to, your departure date, your length of stay and if there are any layovers.
  • Prepare an emergency fund. If you’re moving abroad, set aside about 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. Should your situation sour, this will give you an opportunity to bounce back. You might also want to have enough savings for the return trip if your stay turns out not to be permanent. 
  • Automate your payments. If you have car payments or other bills back home, consider making them automatic if they aren’t already. This way, there are no worries about having internet access when you need to make the payment or forgetting to make the payment amid the excitement of a new locale. 

Whether you’re making a short trip or planning a longer stay abroad, Navy Federal Credit Union has tools and resources to help you plan and prepare financially for travel. Make sure you’re aware of potential fraud risks and how to keep your finances safe while you’re on your next adventure!  

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Take stock of the types of payment you plan to use while abroad. Make sure to include at least 2 different cards in addition to cash, and notify your financial institutions that you’re planning to travel and where!
  2. Make a travel emergency plan. Add to your savings, so you’re prepared in case of an unexpected event overseas. Prepare a travel folder with copies of your travel and financial information—especially your passport, driver’s license and credit cards.
  3. If you bank with Navy Federal, add travel notifications to your accounts online or call us at 1-888-842-6328 to speak with a rep.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.