Amid closed borders and cancelled flights, travel came to a standstill at the peak of the pandemic, with nearly all global travel destinations implementing travel restrictions according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. Now, after two years of hunkering down in their homes and playing it safe, people are yearning for richer and meaningful experiences in their bucket list items.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the approach we take around travel has fundamentally changed into the new normal. From hand sanitizers at airports and hotel lobbies to cabin crew in masks, to contact tracing apps, travelling safely has become a priority. As you go about planning your next holiday keeping those safety considerations in mind, ensure you plan the financial side carefully as well when you indulge that wanderlust. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Before your trip:
Enable mobile alerts: Sign up for SMS alerts for when a transaction exceeds a pre-set limit.
Set card controls: Setting up card controls on your banking app is an important step before you travel internationally. Considering that cross-border transactions for your card are turned off as per RBI regulations, the card network will disallow any transactions outside India, unless you specifically turn it on. This can be done on your banking app, or by calling your bank or visiting your nearest bank branch to activate the card for overseas use. For travellers who prefer contactless payments (which saw a huge increase in use during the pandemic), you can explicitly enable contactless transactions for overseas use as well, if your bank has that option.
Don’t be heavily dependent on cash: When it comes to international travel, cards are the preferred way for Indians to pay for travel expenses abroad. Credit, Debit and Travel prepaid / forex cards are steadily replacing cash which often involves onerous foreign currency exchanges, unused foreign currency left over, and exchange rate losses both in conversion and then in reconversion at the end of the trip, in addition to the other typical inconveniences associated with cash.
During your trip
Using your card is safer: Travel prepaid or Forex cards, like other modes of online payment, can be used for making purchases at stores and online. A Forex card protects you against exchange rate fluctuations since the rates are locked at the time the card is loaded.
Credit / Debit cards enabled for overseas use: Travellers who do not want another card in their wallet can pay with their usual credit or debit cards rather than carrying large amounts of cash.
Tap to pay: Globally, tap to pay is a predominant way of making card payments. If you card is enabled for contactless, you can simply tap at the POS terminal to make your payment.
Public transport: Several cities have public transport enabled for contactless card payments. This reduces the need to stand in line for buying tokens or cards that may not be fully used or will have to be constantly reloaded. Check if this feature is available and simply tap your card at the gates. Again, this will require your contactless transactions for overseas use to be enabled for your card.
Remember your ATM PIN: If needed, you can withdraw cash using your debit card at an ATM, much like you would do in India. (Card controls alert – Check if your bank had this as a separate enablement option, and remember to enable this before your trip)
After your trip Always double-check the information on the sales receipts, including the currency you are being charged, with your monthly bank statement. Contact your card issuer if you note a discrepancy. If you see a charge, you don’t recognise or if you notice any inconsistencies, contact your bank immediately.