Words: Mbali Mokoena
Whether summer or winter is your favourite time of the year to travel, make sure you keep in mind something that is often overlooked: how to protect yourself from being a victim of fraud or theft when travelling abroad. Remember, going cashless is by far the safest way to travel.
With London being crowned the top-ranked international travel destination for 2015 in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, it is more than likely on many South Africans travel bucket list for the year ahead. Wherever you’re going and whatever you do, don’t forget these five pointers to protect yourself:
- Check that your Chip-and-PIN is valid: EMV-enabled Chip and PIN payment cards help prevent fraud and are the most convenient for cashless travels. Have you checked yours is valid and isn’t going to expire while travelling? Remember to never let your debit or credit card out of your sight and make sure transactions are done in front of you.
- Sharing is caring: sure, you’ve told your Facebook friends where you’re going, but have you told your bank? Remember to alert them to the fact that you will be travelling so they don’t think your transactions are fraudulent.
- Pack your ‘payment passport’: a Prepaid MasterCard payment card is a lot safer than travelling with cash. Packing your Multi-currency Cash Passport gives you flexibility when paying with U.S. Dollars, Pound Sterling, Australian Dollars or Euros.
- Ask for help: although travelling with as little cash as possible makes sense, you may need to take a small amount of cash in the local currency for tipping for example. When you land, ask an official at the airport where a safe ATM is located, and make use of the ATM Locator with your smartphone.
- Be smart about currency conversion fees: some merchants and hotels may ask you if you’d like to be charged in either your home or local currency. You will likely save if you choose local currency as you may not incur a foreign transaction fee or a conversion rate fee.
Now that you know why and how going cashless while travelling is safer, go ahead and plan your trip, book your flights and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime.