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Cheering on a local soccer team in FranceAccess to money overseas is a topic of great concern for every education abroad participant. Your education abroad specialist will discuss country-specific considerations in regards to money at your pre-departure orientation. Follow these guidelines when dealing with money overseas:

  • Be aware of the potential for pickpockets
  • Wear a moneybelt to secure cash, passport, credit cards, health information and insurance and emergency cards
  • Carry only small amounts of cash
  • Check with local banks to see if you can obtain foreign currency before your departure
  • Foreign currency is also available at the Port Columbus Airport Business Center, which can be reached at 614-237-9224 during limited hours, and at most international airports
  • Call your bank prior to departing to get all credit and debit cards flagged for travel location(s) and dates so accounts are not frozen
  • Research any fees that may be charged by their bank or foreign banks for using your card abroad or withdrawing money abroad

Debit Cards and ATMs

Debit cards with a Cirrus or Plus designation can often be used to obtain foreign currency from an ATM overseas. Debit cards are a popular option as ATMs abroad are typically available 24 hours a day and you can often get a low exchange rate when the card withdraws money directly from your checking account at home.

Check with your bank or credit card companies to see if they charge an extra fee for international transactions. Most ATMs accept only a four-digit numerical PIN. Inform your bank that you will be traveling abroad and using your card so the bank does not "freeze" it, thinking the card has been stolen. If you are planning to take a debit card overseas, leave a bank account deposit slip at home with a family member who can deposit money into your account in case of an emergency.

Sometimes debit cards do not work overseas or are "eaten" by an ATM, so make sure you have other ways of obtaining money. Debit cards can also be difficult to replace if lost or stolen.

For information on ATMs worldwide, please visit: visa.com (Visa/Plus card members) or mastercard.com (MasterCard/Cirrus members).

Credit Cards

Most major U.S. credit cards can be used worldwide and are extremely valuable in a financial emergency. It is highly advisable to obtain a major credit card before studying abroad. The most commonly accepted credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. Credit cards you use overseas must be in your own name as given on your passport. Be sure to record your credit card number and emergency card numbers in a separate place in case your card is lost or stolen.

Typically, the amount charged to your credit card bill is based on the exchange rate on the day that your bank or credit card company processed the transaction.

Traveler's Check/Traveler's Card

Traveler's checks can serve as a back-up should you have difficulty accessing money from an ATM or your card is lost or stolen.

Prepaid travel cards are an alternative to traveler's checks and can often be reloaded once depleted. Lost or stolen cash cannot be replaced; traveler's checks and travel cards can be replaced. You can purchase either checks or cards from a variety of internationally recognized sources such as American Express, Bank of America, Visa or AAA.

Opening a Bank Account Overseas

If you plan to be overseas for a semester or longer, you may wish to  open a local bank account in the host country. This is especially helpful if you will need to make payments via wire transfer for housing. Many banks overseas will have their own bank cards, allowing you to make withdrawals from their ATMs. If you plan to open a bank account overseas, you should make your deposit with traveler's checks or have your U.S. bank wire the funds. A personal check or money order can take weeks and even months to clear and will delay the ability to open a bank account quickly.

How Much Money to Take

How much money to take depends on your education abroad program, the cost of living in your host country and your personal spending habits. Talk to former participants and your education abroad specialist for advice on how much money to take. Calculate how much you will need, and then add some for a cushion and emergency situations.

Loss or Shortage of Money Overseas

If you run out of money and need emergency funds, here are some options:

  • Wire or use online money transfer services (i.e. Western Union, PayPal, Venmo etc.) Share your online money transfer service username with friends or family ahead of time so they can send emergency funds, if necessary
  • If you have a debit card, have a family member or friend deposit funds into your account
  • If your debit/credit card is lost or stolen, you can get a replacement card through the bank directly or through a friend or family member at home