Traveling abroad takes planning. As you plan, remember to consider the financial tools you will need for your trip. Carrying large amounts of cash from home is risky. It’s safer to take credit cards and rely on ATM withdrawals for the cash you need.

The U.S. State Department recommends taking two major credit cards, one as your primary card and another as a back-up.

ATM withdrawals are the easiest and least expensive way to get cash abroad. ATM card withdrawals are exchanged based on wholesale exchange rate, a rate usually reserved for very large, inter-bank exchanges. This rate is typically 2-5 percent better than you receive when exchanging traveler’s checks at a local bank or money change bureau, where additional transaction fees can take another 2 percent of your money.

Before you depart for an extended overseas trip be sure to notify your banker and your credit card company about when and where you will be traveling. Sudden changes in account activity, such as frequent withdrawals in a foreign country, can trigger a fraud alert and freeze your accounts.

Verify that your ATM network has locations where you are traveling. Change your PIN to a four-digit number because ATMs abroad do not accept PINs longer than four digits and many have only numbers on the keypad. Keep in mind that most ATMs abroad will only let you access the primary account on your ATM card.

For up-to-date travel information and tips, visit the U.S. State Department website at: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html.

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