Not Safeguarding Currency Can Leave Travelers Empty Handed

Hamilton, NJ – Packed and ready to go, caught up in the excitement of getting a passport stamp and posting a selfie, yet one critical thing is missing: protecting your money!  Failure to plan can cost travelers sacred vacation funds and ruin the trip of a lifetime.

Hackers, electronic “pick pocketers” and technologically savvy thieves are prowling crowds to scan and steal precious belongings from unsuspecting victims without even having to put a hand on their belongings.  Credit cards and identification (passports included) are often equipped with radio frequency identification technology (RFID) which was designed to make life easier for consumers. The technology is, however, also easier for criminals as they can literally scan a wallet’s contents by simply being close to a tourist.  AAA advises travelers to carry all important documents in a RFID blocking wallet, case, or purse that prevents the scanning of data by would be thieves. 

“It is unfortunate when a wonderful trip that someone has spent years saving for and months planning is severely impacted in an instant with a financial emergency,” said Tracy E. Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “To minimize risk of theft or loss, take only the cards you need and protect all your assets with a RFID blocking case.”

AAA also advises vacationers to carry a “mixed wallet” to prevent the disaster of losing everything. A “mixed wallet” consists of a credit card, debit card, local currency, and a pre-loaded money card.  “It is important for travelers to diversify their exposure and give themselves several ways to access funds so they are not left stranded thousands of miles from home,” said Noble. 

  • Pre-Loaded Money Card:  One of the safest forms of currency in a mixed wallet is the pre-loaded money card, as it does not list the cardholder’s name and it not linked to bank account or other was to access funds.  Pre-loaded money cards can also hold five major currencies at the same time – a great convenience for those visiting multiple countries. Travelers who utilize these cards generally plan well for necessary expenditures and are likely to stick to their budget.
  • Credit Cards/ Credit Cards: Credit cards can also be used at ATMs for cash when needed, but often carry higher interest charges. It is always necessary to contact the financial institution for all credit/debit cards to advise them of your travel dates and destinations. If not, they will see the activity in your account as suspicious and may deny your purchase. 
  • Local Currency:A moderate amount of local currency, in small denominations, essentially seed money to get the trip rolling smoothly, can be used for small purchases, cab rides, tips, etc. when travelers first arrive at their destination.  Local currency, however, while the easiest to spend, is not protected if lost or stolen.  Packets with small denominations of most foreign currencies can be obtained at AAA local retail stores. Many banks can also order a variety of currency and/or may have it on hand.

All travelers are also warned not to ever pack money or cards, of any type, in checked luggage and to keep Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) far away from your wallet (preferably memorized).  What would you do if your cards were stolen?  How would you contact the bank?  It is also wise to make copies of all cards and notate phone numbers so you can quickly report them missing if necessary and leave a copy at home with your emergency contact.  “A well thought out back-up plan can keep you and your family stress free while on vacation,” Noble continued.

What about Travelers Cheques? “While Travelers Cheques are not “obsolete” they are certainly not the preferred or most popular method by which to carry currency as there are much more sophisticated methods available to travelers. In addition, many retail stores and hotels in Europe refuse to accept them, even if they are in euros,” Noble said. AAA Mid-Atlantic stopped selling Travelers Cheques in 2007.