Managing Money Abroad


During our travels, we’ve had many people reach out to us asking how we manage our money and carry out our daily finances as long term travelers. In this post, we will share our tips to help you organize and plan your money matters, so you can spend less time financial planning and more time on the exciting ventures, such as determining your destinations!

Let us preface this information by stressing that in order to stay informed on the latest programs and offers, we’re constantly comparing the programs we use against such sites as bankrate, nerdwallet, thepointsguy, etc.

Online Banking

iphone vs normal phoneMost people don’t realize that we don’t own or carry any kind of phone. In fact, neither Audrey nor I have ever owned a smartphone, ever! Because of this, it’s imperative that we have the ability to communicate through an online chat to resolve the majority of banking issues.

We also need the ability to QUICKLY transfer funds from our savings to our checking account. If you have a savings account with a different institution it may take up to 5 (or more) business days to transfer funds.  Having to worry about whether funds got transferred in order to make a credit card payment is highly annoying. Between lodging and transportation planning, isn’t there enough to worry about?

Many people will purposely have their savings account at a different institution in order to earn an additional .05% or .10% interest [Yes! I just made a quarter!!].  Why worry about trying to earn an additional .05% by splitting your savings and checking accounts between various institutions? When you’re on the road, it’s not worth the effort, hassle, nor the worry. For peace of mind just make sure the bank you use offers competitive rates (by comparing at bankrate). For these reasons, we use Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts. Capital_One_360_Checking_830275Of course, you can have multiple savings, CDs, and money market accounts scattered among numerous institutions (if you’re ridiculously rich like Nomadic Matt and Rick Steves). Nevertheless, we highly recommend having your main daily checking and savings account consolidated at one institution. It just makes life a little easier. All of the hassle and planning is not worth the small amount of additional interest earned or the risk of a late payment.

ATM Cards

charles-schwab-bank-visa-debit-cardIt’s sometimes hard to believe how many places around the world still don’t accept credit cards. For this reason, it’s important that you have the ability to get the local currency at the lowest cost. When you withdrawal funds outside of the US with your ATM card you’ll be charged both a withdrawal fee and a foreign currency transaction fee. visa_debit_lgTwo of the best cards, offering the lowest fees (and fee reimbursements) are the Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account and the Fidelity Cash Management Account. Keep in mind, that both of these accounts are setup through brokerage firms so it may require a bit more time and paperwork for the initial setup. Always get two cards, at two different institutions, in case one gets lost, stolen, or just doesn’t happen to work.

Credit Cards

card-arrival-plusPrior to departing on your RTW trip, make sure to check out our posts on getting the most rewards and miles on your purchases leading up to your trip. During your RTW, however, you’ll be spending a lot of money on lodging, transportation, excursions, and food. In order to get the most benefits you’ll want to use your credit card as the main form of payment as much as possible. Prior to our RTW trip, we probably opened up close to 20 credit cards in order to get airline miles. Once you’ve left the good ole US of A though it’s not that easy to obtain a new credit card. In other words, you’ll have to decide on at least two good credit cards to take with you.

Remember, two cards, in case one gets lost, stolen, or just doesn’t work. Also, make sure the card you’re issued has an EMV (for Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, otherwise merchants won’t accept it! This is extremely important in Europe where nearly all merchants only accept chip-embedded credit cards.

For these reasons we chose to carry the Barclaycard Arrival + as our main credit card. Using this card we’ve received nearly $1,500 in statement credits!

Mail

logo_100To handle mail we decided to purchase a virtual mailbox through PostScan Mail.  PostScan Mail helps you manage your postal mail online.  You can manage your postal mail remotely from any location with complete security. You simply review the image online and decide how you want the item handled.

We hope by showing what companies and accounts we actually utilize during our travels, it will make your planning process a little less stressful. Feel free to contact us with any questions or let us know what you’ve found that works for you in the comments below.

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