Accessing Money Abroad
Banking Cards: Like in the US, you can use your debit cards to withdraw money from an ATM machine. Depending on location, debit and credit cards may be used for in-store purchases. Be sure to check with your bank to know what fees will apply to an international transaction. This can be anywhere between 1-5%.
1. Call your bank and other financial institutions and make sure to let them know the dates you will be traveling, as well as the locations you will be traveling to. This will help prevent the freezing of your account due to fraud suspicions.
2. Create a PDF file of photocopies of your cards (both front and back) to keep in a google doc or other electronic storage for emergency situations. Also obtain the international emergency number for your credit card company or bank in case your card gets lost or stolen.
3. Check the expiration date on all your cards. If any cards expire while you are overseas, obtain a new card before departure.
4. ATM is typically the cheapest option. You may be able to save more money if your bank offers international ATM's or has international partners. Most international banks are connected to an international money network (CIRRUS or PLUS are common names). The networks' symbols are found on the back of your bank card. You will need to match the machine's symbols to your card in order for it to work in that machine.
Back-Up Options: It's always a good idea to have a plan B when it comes to finances abroad.
Exchange prior to departure: You may consider purchasing some foreign currency before leaving the U.S. to have some cash when you arrive.This is helpful in case there is a problem with your debit/credit card, or for taxi rides from the airport etc. Large local U.S. banks can often exchange money for you. There is a currency exchange at the MSP airport which requires cash to conduct transactions, but you'll typically get a better exchange rate abroad.
Wiring/Cabling Money: American Express, Western Union, and many personal banks provide fund transfer by wire/cable services. These services are secure, prompt, and reliable (for a fee). You might also check with your U.S. bank to learn if they have an affiliation with any banks abroad. Is there a way to send money through their international networks.
Travelex: buying a pre-loaded travel card can help with exchange rates, as well as budgeting and can prevent identity theft. Travelex allows you to pre-load your card with up to 6 different currencies. It can be used to purchase or withdraw andcan be used wherever Mastercard to accepted.
NOTE: In the case of a true financial emergency, the Faculty Director can make a short-term loan to the student from the program funds to help them get by for a short period of time. Students must sign a receipt that they received this money and agree to pay it back within two weeks. The program must be reimbursed in the local currency BEFORE DEPARTURE. The loan cannot be repaid upon return to CSB/SJU. Please keep in mind that this method should only be used in the case of a true emergency (lost/stolen wallet, medical emergency upon admittance to hospital, etc.). It will not be used if students run out of personal funds. Remember to budget!