Traveling This Summer? 9 Ways to Protect Your Finances While You’re Gone

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.


We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

When Matt Matheson was traveling in southern France, he suddenly noticed his pockets felt lighter. Without his realizing, a pickpocket had stolen his wallet, which contained a credit card, debit card, license and $200 in cash.

Fortunately, Matheson, a finance blogger at Method to Your Money, was also traveling with a secret money belt, which contained traveler’s checks, his passport and an extra debit and credit card. He acted fast, notifying his bank and credit cards to watch out for suspicious activity.

Although Matheson was out $200, the situation could have been a lot worse if he hadn’t taken precautions. Besides wearing a money belt, here are nine other ways you can protect yourself financially while you’re traveling:

1. Tell your bank where you’re going

Before hitting the skies, seas or open road, make sure to let your bank know you might be making charges in another state or country. That way, it won’t lock your account if it sees a withdrawal from an unfamiliar place.

“As a former employee in the banking industry, I can’t tell you the number of times I received calls from panicked customers that their card had been blocked while traveling,” said Annie Brown, a former call center representative for SAFE Credit Union who now works on her lifestyle blog, Savvy Honey.

Although banking security is generally helpful, it could hurt you if you’re abroad with no way to take out money because your bank has put a block on your account.

“To get it lifted, you’ll have to call the fraud department, which can be a hassle if you’re abroad,” said Brown.

And once you’ve filled your banks in on your upcoming travel plans, tell your credit card companies as well.

“Because credit card companies are on high alert for fraud, sudden charges from a different country will look like suspicious activity and could cause your credit card company to freeze your account,” said financial attorney Leslie Tayne of Tayne Law Group P.C.

2. Use credit when you can

While we’re on the subject of credit cards, note that it could make sense to rely on plastic more than cash, since they tend to have built-in protections.

Jordan Tarver, a financial analyst who also writes for, recommends using your credit card as much as possible when you’re traveling.

“Using credit cards instead of cash means you that you can recoup your losses much faster,” said Tarver. “If someone stole your wallet and cash, the chances of getting your money back are slim. However, if your credit card is stolen, all future purchases made aren’t your responsibility.”

So to protect yourself from theft, consider favoring credit cards over cash whenever possible (unless you’re prone to overspending with plastic — in that case, stick with cash to stay within your budget).

3. Watch out for foreign transaction fees

If you’ll be relying on credit cards while traveling internationally, make sure to use ones that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

“Know about foreign transaction fees,” advised Tayne. “If you opt to do most of your spending on a credit or debit card, you may be getting slammed with a foreign transaction fee.”

Fortunately, some cards don’t charge these fees at all, so if needed, consider applying for one of those before your trip. The best travel credit cards also offer points back on your spending, as well as perks like rental insurance or reimbursement for lost luggage.

Some even offer concierge services to help you book accommodations or get access to airport lounges. As long as you can spend responsibly, a card with no foreign transaction fees could help your trip go off without a hitch.

4. Be cautious when withdrawing money

Even if you’re mainly using credit cards, it’s always useful to have at least a small amount of cash when traveling. To save yourself exchange fees, withdraw cash from an ATM when you arrive at your destination. But be careful about when and where you take out money, as well as how much you withdraw.

“Avoid isolated or secluded ATMs where criminals may be lurking,” said Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “It is also much safer to use an ATM at or near your hotel and during daylight hours. If possible, always bring a friend to tag along.”

While taking a bunch of money out at once can help you avoid foreign transaction fees, you also want to avoid carrying too much money on your person at once.

“Carrying a bunch of foreign cash around when you’re traveling is never a good idea,” said Tarver. “Instead, use an ATM close to your hotel and leave it secured in your hotel room. Each day, take what you need.”

It can also be helpful to choose an ATM at a bank so you’ll be protected by security cameras or other safety measures. And if anyone not connected with the bank approaches you offering help, beware — it could very well be a scammer trying to get a glimpse of your ATM pin.

5. Make sure your bills are taken care of at home

When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to forget about responsibilities back at home. But an unpaid bill could come back to haunt you, so make sure your finances are running on auto-pilot while you’re away.

“Prepay or schedule any bills that will need to be paid while you are on vacation,” advised Matilda Geroulis, travel expert and cofounder of The Travel Sisters. “I don’t want to miss a payment, and get hit with late fees, because I don’t check my email as often while I travel.”

If you have student loans, setting up auto-pay could also have the added benefit of lowering your interest rate, often by 0.25%. It can likewise be helpful to set up automatic payments on your credit cards or any other recurring bills, so long as you’re sure you won’t cause an overdraft on your bank account.

By doing this, you can rest easy knowing your bills are being paid (and your credit score is being protected) without having to worry about logging into your accounts from abroad.

6. Don’t sign into your accounts on public WiFi

If you do need to check on your balances, be careful about where you’re signing in to your financial accounts.

“Criminals are notorious for hacking public WiFi networks,” said Justin Lavelle, online safety expert and chief communications director of online background-check platform

“It’s likely that while traveling, you’ll use free WiFi to access the Internet, possibly at the airport, hotel, coffee shops and other public places,” Lavelle said. “If you are using free WiFi, be sure to log out of all personal accounts, and never make transactions or pay bills while on public WiFi.”

For maximum security, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your online activity. Just as a money belt can protect you from pickpockets, the VPN could protect you from online hackers.

7. Watch out for scams

Along with protecting yourself online, Lavelle said, it’s also crucial to watch out for scams against tourists. The first he mentioned was the “broken taxi meter scam.”

“It is not uncommon for taxi drivers near train stations or airports to notify passengers that their meter is broken,” said Lavelle. “If the meter is not utilized, passengers can be held responsible for outrageous taxi fees. If the driver insists the ride is cheaper without the meter or refuses to turn the meter on, get out of the taxi and request a different taxi driver.”

The second scam Lavelle mentioned also involves taxi drivers: “While en route to the hotel, the driver may say the hotel is closed or overbooked, (and) then try to lure you to a more expensive property where he gets a kick back,” he said. “To avoid being scammed, contact the hotel upon arrival to ensure the reservation is confirmed.”

Another scam involves someone offering you a “gift” of jewelry or flowers and then demanding money for it. Protect yourself by refusing free gifts from strangers.

Finally, as mentioned above, be aware of your wallet or purse to avoid pickpockets. “A person may accidentally spill something on your clothing or bump you from behind,” Lavelle said. “This is a mere distraction to keep your focus on the spill and not on personal belongings.”

8. Consider travel insurance

Hopefully your trip will go off without a hitch, but sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. From missed flights to lost luggage to medical emergencies, you might run into unexpected expenses along the way.

A travel insurance plan can protect your finances in case of an emergency. Medical insurance plans should cover emergency healthcare expenses you incur abroad, while comprehensive plans would also cover travel delays.

“If you are traveling to a small town or someplace remote in a foreign country, you might have to be medically evacuated to a nearby city in the case of a medical emergency,” said Geroulis. “The costs of medical care or emergency evacuation can be catastrophic for your finances, so it is worth it to buy travel insurance.”

Of course, you might decide to risk it if you’re going on a short trip or already have some coverage from your credit card. But if you want to be extra cautious about protecting your finances, consider a travel insurance plan to cover you while you’re away.

9. Make a travel budget, and stick to it

Using a VPN and avoiding scams will protect your money from other people, but you might also need to take steps to protect your money from yourself.

When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to splurge on hotels, restaurants and shopping. But when you get back home, your credit card balances might make your eyes water. Avoid overspending by designing a budget. Break your spending into categories, such as lodging and food, and set limits on how much you want to spend in each.

“Make a travel budget before you leave,” suggested Ben Watson, a CPA and personal finance expert who also serves as Virtual CFO at “Having a set amount of money for the trip and divided into specific categories will help keep you from overspending or letting the vacation follow your wallet home.”

You might do this on a simple spreadsheet or use a budget-tracking app. By crafting a spending plan — and sticking to it — you can avoid draining your bank account or going into debt to pay for your trip.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of December 13, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 12/13/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit, email us at, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% APR (without AutoPay). Variable rates currently from 2.31% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% (without AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.31% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.31% plus 0.75% margin minus 0.25% for AutoPay. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your credit history and the term of the loan and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

3 Important Disclosures for Figure.

Figure Disclosures

Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.

4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

College Ave Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.

2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.

4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.


There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.


For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
For eligible Associates degrees in the healthcare field (see Eligibility & Eligible Loans section below), Lender will refinance up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans. Note, parents who are refinancing loans taken out on behalf of a child who has obtained an associates degrees in an eligible healthcare field are not subject to the $50,000 loan maximum, refer to for more information about refinancing ParentPlus loans.


Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.

All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to for applicable terms and conditions.

For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.


The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.


The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.


After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.

If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.


This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.

6 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.

7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.

8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

1.99% – 6.89%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.31% – 7.36%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.06% – 6.81%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Figure

2.62% – 6.12%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit College Ave

2.29% – 6.65%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.99% – 7.06%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.85% – 6.13%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.90% – 8.59%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Published in Budgeting & Expenses, Personal Finance