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Money

Consult the Study Abroad Faculty Director about how much money to take for essentials and souvenirs.

Inflation in the United States and the rising value of non-U.S. currencies have made inexpensive travel ($20-$60 per day) increasingly difficult. Spending as little as possible while traveling abroad means staying in hostels and eating in marketplaces. A higher budget allows more freedom and choice in accommodations, restaurants and entertainment. Once individuals have determined a travel budget, take along a $500 emergency fund. For detailed information on costs, consult travel guidebooks for the host country.

Currency can be exchanged at most international airports, train stations and banks abroad. Exchange a small amount of money prior to your departure to have some cash on hand upon arrival. Exchange your money at the airport, at your home bank or at a reputable travel agency.

Avoid exchanging currency at hotels, restaurants or retail shops; their exchange rates are high. Banks — and bank windows found in airports and railroad stations abroad — will give you the fairest exchange rate available. Expect to pay commission every time you exchange currency. In some countries the commission is based on a percentage of the exchange; in others a flat fee is charged.

Plan ahead! Allow several weeks for delivery if you plan to purchase foreign currency from your bank. Remember to have your passport with you as identification each time you exchange money. You can check the exchange rate before your departure at sites such as xe.com and oanda.com .

ATM and Debit Cards

Using your ATM card is becoming the most convenient way to obtain money while abroad. You don’t need any form of identification to use ATMs, and you won't be charged commission. This service is not available with all ATM cards, so check with your bank to ensure that your card and personal identification number (PIN) will work in the host country.

Debit cards bearing a Visa or MasterCard logo generally function much as they do in the United States. You can use them in most shops that accept credit cards. If you use your ATM card overseas, you might be charged a service fee by the bank that owns the machine and by your own bank. Call your bank to learn about these rates. Also check your daily limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw. You will receive the host country's currency from the machine, which will be converted in your account according to the exchange rate on the day you withdraw your money. Keep the 800 number on the card somewhere safe so you can cancel the card in case of theft. Alert your bank beforehand that you will be using your cards overseas.

Credit Cards

American Express, Visa and MasterCard credit cards are helpful if you need emergency funds while abroad. Most credit cards can be used like ATM cards, with limitations on daily withdrawals. Make sure you have a PIN for your credit card, and find out about your daily limit as well as your overall credit limit. Many students prepay their credit cards or have someone at home maintain a positive balance on them so they can withdraw money without a daily interest charge that comes with a cash advance. Credit cards often can be used for purchases; however, not all merchants abroad will accept them.

In the case of major financial transactions abroad, be sure to have adequate identification with you (your passport). Contact your credit card company to let them know you will be abroad so they don’t freeze your account. Also, have someone at home keep copies of your credit card numbers in case your card is stolen. Keep the 800 number on the card somewhere safe so you can cancel the card in case of theft.

Transfer from home

If you run short of cash while abroad, money can be sent from home in several ways. If you have enough credit, consider using your credit card or ATM card. This will be the best rate of exchange. If neither works, the quickest, although the most expensive, method of transfer is by cable/wire transfer from your American bank to a bank abroad. Visit your hometown bank before your departure to obtain a list of the overseas correspondent banks to which money can be transferred by cable. To pick the money up at the overseas bank, you will need your passport.

It may be necessary for your hometown bank to process cable transfer through a major, internationally recognized U.S. bank, which in turn will have to deal with a comparable internationally recognized bank overseas. The correspondent bank abroad can then complete the transfer to a local bank in your study abroad location which may take some time.