Tips to Make International Travel Easier

My Money Matters | Written by Lucy Heaney

22 November 2016

When you’re enjoying an international trip, whether it’s for business, pleasure, or perhaps a little bit of both, the last thing you want to worry about is your finances. While we can’t take away all the stresses associated with travelling, we do believe that preparation is key to ensuring that your trip is as smooth as possible. We spoke to Daniel Buntman, Head of International Banking, about what you should consider before, during, and after you take your next big trip.

Before you leave

Being prepared is the best thing you can do to make your journey a breeze. Before you go, do your research – what is the primary currency in the country you’re travelling to? What is the exchange rate? What does your budget look like?

Once you know these things, you can begin to look at your options for transacting abroad. In most cases, your starting point should always be foreign bank notes. Though every individual case is different, it’s always worth making sure that you have some form of hard currency as part of your travel kit in case you need to pay for things like taxi fares, which you can get straight from Absa before you depart – saving you from standing in queues at the airport. Just don’t forget to bring your ticket, your ID, and your passport with you, and remember that you can only purchase foreign currency 60 days prior to travel.

The  from Absa is perfect for almost every trip, it’s safe, convenient, and easy to use. This card is preloaded with foreign currency at a locked exchange rate which you can use to swipe for free or withdraw at low rates. If you lose your card, MasterCard can help you to replace it within 24 hours, or they can help you access money using Western Union in an emergency, giving you total peace of mind when it comes to safety and security.

With both cash and your Multicurrency Cash Passport, the cost is paid upfront, which means you don’t need to worry about the exchange rate fluctuating while you’re away. Often the upfront cost of a trip can feel overwhelming, but the positive is that once you leave, you let go of the cost, allowing you to enjoy your holiday without worrying about your money.

We believe that a combination of both cash and a Multicurrency Cash Passport is the best option for travellers, it’s also a good idea to take your debit and/or credit card with you so that you have them as a backup in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that you will pay a 2.75% fee on every swipe you make overseas, and that your deduction will be based on whenever the merchant banked the sale – so your transaction will be affected by the exchange rate. It’s worth visiting one of our capable branch teams so they can talk you through your options and help you figure out the very best travel suite for your particular trip.

Before you go, it’s also a good idea to make copies of all your important documents, like your ID, visa, and passport. While you’re moving around, we want your transactions to be as smooth as possible, and having copies can assist in making that happen. In some parts of Europe, you’re required to produce your ID when using a credit card, and being able to carry around a copy is less stressful than carrying your passport or ID with you wherever you go. Don’t take photocopies only though – if you’ve got a smartphone, take photos on there too. And if you’re travelling with children, make sure to have copies of their documents as well – if you can prove a child’s age, some attractions offer free entry for kids.

Budgeting for your trip is essential to good preparation, but it’s also a good idea to set up general power of attorney on your account before you go, so that you have a safety net with your branch or banker should you absolutely need it while you’re away.

While you’re away

To save you from counting pennies and recounting cents, the Multicurrency Cash Passport also has an integrated smartphone app that allows you to keep track of your balance while you’re away. With the increase in free Wi-Fi hotspots globally, you can easily find a place to log in and you’ll be able to monitor what you spend with your transactions (and your budget) at your fingertips. With the option of having up to four major currencies on one card (US Dollars, British Pounds, Euros, and Australian Dollars), your Multicurrency Cash Passport is even smart enough to recognise which currency you’re accessing when you swipe, so you don’t have to stress if you’re moving between different currency territories.

If you’re on a tight budget and are worried about incurring ATM fees, you can also take advantage of cashback services, which are becoming increasingly prevalent internationally. Just as you can swipe for free, you can use your Multicurrency Cash Passport to withdraw cash at participating retail stores for no extra cost – provided the currency of the country you’re in matches the currency in your passport’s wallet.

In an emergency, we work together with Western Union to help you get back on track. If you’ve lost your wallet and didn’t take a Multicurrency Cash Passport, you can log into your internet banking (from a secure computer in a safe place) and transfer money to yourself anywhere via Western Union within 24 hours. Or if you’re able to access another bank account, we also offer secure SWIFT electronic transfers to another bank account anywhere in the world just by logging into your internet banking. Always ensure that you understand the costs of your transfer before doing this.

When you return

When you get back from your break, the most important thing to remember is to exchange your money back into Rands. The South African Reserve Bank requires travellers to sell back any unused currency within 30 days of returning, which can be easily done at an Absa branch for a small fee. If there’s money left on your Multicurrency Cash Passport, we’ll happily buy this from you for no additional fee, giving you satisfaction in knowing that you won’t be penalised for coming back below budget.

Ultimately, it’s our job to make sure that you don’t have to spend your adventure worrying about your finances. Whether it’s aiding you in protecting yourself against fluctuating currencies, equipping you with the emergency benefits of the multicurrency cash passport from Absa, or assisting you in building the best possible travel suite before you go, our goal is to amplify your peace of mind. In the words of Daniel Buntman, “We know that travel is expensive. But we also know that travel is special. Wherever we can, we’re here to enhance your enjoyment and remove your stress.”

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.