Tips to Protect and Access your Money while Abroad (U.S.)

  • Familiarize yourself with your bank’s policies before you go – unexpected fees or extra charges sometimes apply. However, some banks have partnerships with other banks abroad, which may mean less fees for you.
  • Understand the financial system and research currency exchange rates at your travel destination
  • Inform your bank or credit card company of your travel plans so that their security measures do not freeze your account.
  • Ask if your bank has any branches at your travel destination or international banking partners where you could safely deposit or withdraw funds as needed.
  • Review the Crime section of the Country Specific Information for your destination to review the financial and ATM scams that may be targeting foreign visitors. If ATM service is not secure or available widely, bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.
  • Major banks in most countries will issue cash advances from major credit cards.
  • For emergencies, set aside sufficient funds in advance of your travel and designate a family member who could access your accounts if needed.
  • Most hospitals require payment up front for any services, even in countries where healthcare is a public service. Most countries only provide public healthcare service for their citizens and not foreign nationals.
  • Most banks may require a notarized power of attorney to provide account access to someone other than the primary account holder. If you need to do this at your travel destination, U.S. consular officers serve as U.S. public notaries and can help you notarize Powers of Attorney, Wills, and other documents for use in the United States.

U.S. consuls can assist Americans abroad who are temporarily destitute due to unforeseen circumstances. Americans who find themselves in these circumstances should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 (during business hours) or 202-647-5225 (after hours). Consular officers can help destitute Americans contact family, bank, or employer to arrange for transfer of funds. In some cases, these funds can be wired through the Department of State.

Check here for more information on how a consular officer can help under these circumstances.