Here’s what should be in your child’s wallet when studying abroad

A reader writes that she is about to send her 19-year-old daughter to Italy for college studies and wonders how best to manage her money and communications.

Note to parents: Course? Lifestyles? Logistics? These are important concerns. But these money and contact matters need to be addressed first, I would say, so that you don’t have a kid running out of money, say, in Barcelona, ​​Spain, around 220 miles and 24 hours away. final destination. . That kid was me, and it was the Dark Ages where there were fewer options and a financial rescue took a lot longer.

Today, the problem is not scarcity or speed. It is the multiplicity of choices. Here is what two experts suggested as solutions.

Even if you’re not a parent, here you’ll find some information – and, I think, at least one big surprise – that will help you manage your money overseas.

Plus, you’ll find some “reminder notes” that moms and dads should reinforce.

So, to the questions.

Does a student need to have:


Yes. But not a lot.

“Carrying large sums of money on you is not a good idea,” said Kimberly Palmer, credit card and bank expert for, a personal finance site.

The money you lose – whether you lose it or have it taken from you – is money that is gone for good.

Palmer cited emergencies as one of the reasons money is needed, suggesting a stash equivalent to around $ 500 (but carried only in small amounts).

Jennifer McDermott, Consumer Advocate for, a personal finance comparison website, noted that on her recent travels she found that Europe “is still a monetary society, perhaps even more so with the economic uncertainty of recent times.”

“While [credit] cards are widely accepted, [she] will need to carry at least small amounts of cash when visiting regional towns, markets and making small purchases such as espresso or ice cream, ”McDermott said in an email.

If meals are not included in the student’s schedule, she suggested a reserve of around $ 30 per day in addition to spending money.

The key here is to secure your money when you have it with you and when you leave it behind.

To take money with you: I like underwear, purses and clothes (socks, T-shirts, even underwear) with hidden compartments.

Money left behind: Leave it in a safe, if there is one, and if not, use a portable safe. These bag-shaped laptops come in different sizes, but a small one, usually built into a steel mesh that cannot be opened, should protect money and, perhaps, small electronics. It can be attached to something sturdy (sometimes a bed will work) with a steel cable and a lock.

Note for parents: Remind your child to make sure they don’t leave the safe after a hotel stay or when they get home.

A debit card?

Yes, for times when cash is low or you have unforeseen expenses.

Both experts stressed that you must call the issuing institution to alert them of your travel plans.

Additionally, Palmer suggested asking if the bank could brief you on any unusual processes or procedures overseas.

Note for parents: Make sure you know if and how much you incur charges for using a debit card. They can add up. Advise your student to use the card in safe places – a bank, not a roadside ATM.

RELATED: The Five Words You Never Want To Say When Paying With A Credit Card In A Foreign Country ”

A credit card?

Yes. You have a lot of choices, and the good news is that with competition, many no longer charge transaction fees abroad.

The recent transition in the United States to chip credit cards was a halfway point. Most of our smart cards are smart and signature cards. They still offer protection, especially against cloning.

But a signature is not necessarily the most secure way to verify identity.

The other variant is a chip and PIN code, which means you have a chip card, but you need a PIN code to complete your purchase. It is said to offer a higher level of security.

Chip and PIN cards aren’t common in the US, but you can find them, including the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, which I can easily get.

You don’t have to have one unless you have to pay for something at a kiosk, like a train or metro ticket or gasoline for your rental car.

But, the two experts said, before you go looking for a PIN card, check with the bank issuing a card you already have and see if a PIN can be issued.

It’s impossible to say it can be done with all cards – “It varies so much by country and card type,” Palmer said – but it’s worth asking.

It is important to note that we are not talking about cash advance credit cards, which allow you to get money from ATMs. These can be useful in an emergency, but the costs can be high.

Note for parents: Do not wait until the last minute to check for a possible PIN code transmission. If your card can be fitted with a PIN code, that number will not be communicated to you over the phone, Palmer said; it will most likely be mailed to you, and we’re not talking about e-mail.

A second credit card?

May be. Many travelers take more than one card in case one is lost or closed for some reason. A second card is a good option, especially in an emergency.

Note for parents: Make sure that your student’s account numbers and issuer contact information are recorded and kept in a safe place. It can be in an encrypted file; it could be something that you, mom and dad, keep at home in a safe place. Also be sure to monitor purchases; tell your student to keep track of all expenses, no blame, no shame, just good financial practice to make sure you (or your student) get what he / she paid for.

One last note: we talked about it in a column called “The five words you never want to say when paying with a credit card in a foreign country, but please ask your child, when paying with a credit card, to request that the purchase be charged in euros (or whatever the currency of the country they are in), not dollars.

The conversion rate will be set by the bank, not a third party, and will likely be more favorable to the buyer than to the seller.

How about keeping in touch? Hold the phone. We will cover this next week.

Have a travel dilemma? Write to [email protected] We regret that we cannot respond to all requests.

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