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Planning an international trip can involve a lot of preparation, from booking the travel to making sure your passport hasn't expired, to setting up your cell phone so it works overseas.
You'll also want to take a few financial steps before boarding your flight, like having the right travel card and budgeting wisely.
Below, Select recommends five money savvy tips to ensure smooth sailing overseas.
Even if you're just in the day-dreaming phase, it's never too early to start saving. And automating your personal finances is an easy way to budget for a vacation without having to think about it.
"Make a rough plan of where you want to go and how long you plan to stay," Ramit Sethi, personal finance coach and best-selling author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," tells Select.
"For example, if you plan to spend $5,000 on a trip in December, you can set up an automatic transfer of $500/month starting today," he says. "By the time December comes, your vacation will be paid for."
And when it comes to budgeting while traveling, be smart about what you really should splurge on.
"Spend extravagantly on the things you love, but cut costs mercilessly on the things you don't," Sethi says. "In cities, we stay at inexpensive hotels because we know we'll be out, exploring the city and eating street food. But if we're near a beach resort, we splurge. Decide what's important to you and spend the bulk of your travel money there."
There are two key perks that are essential when choosing a travel card: no foreign transaction fees and the ease with which you can cash in rewards for travel. A travel card is even better when you can earn bonus rewards for travel-related purchases.
For those who don't mind paying an annual fee, the American Express® Gold Card is a smart choice for consumers who love travel and dining out. The card comes with a $250 annual fee, but cardholders get $100 in hotel credits when booking rooms through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel. (See rates and fees). Users also earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X Membership Rewards® points on dining.
Enrolling in a new credit card right before a trip is a good time to take advantage of sign-up bonuses if the card has a big spend requirement. You can also sign up for a card with a sign-on bonus several months ahead of time, so you can potentially use those rewards to book airfare.
Traveling outside the country is the perfect excuse to enroll in Global Entry, or better yet, find a credit card that provides a credit for the application fee. Cardholders with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card get an application fee credit for Global Entry (up to $100) every four years.
(Note: If you're a New York resident, Global Entry applications have recently been temporarily suspended, so you may want to consider TSA PreCheck or CLEAR as an alternative (though the programs differ).)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) doesn't provide an exact time frame for how long the whole application process lasts, but it can take up to several months so you should tackle this long before your take off for your trip.
But with longer and longer lines at the airport these days, it's worth taking the time enroll so you can access the express line at customs and immigration.
Read more: Learn how to apply for Global Entry.
It can be a lot less expensive managing travel disruptions if you have travel insurance that can cover the cost of unexpected expenses. Many of the best travel credit cards offer some kind of protection for travelers, from baggage insurance to trip delay insurance.
The specific terms of travel insurance benefits vary by card issuer. In most cases, you have to pay for your trip in full with your credit card, though some card issuers may only require a portion of the trip to be paid with the eligible card. And card issuers often implement different limitations on the coverage you receive and what expenses are eligible for protection. Make sure you review the specific terms before booking travel.
These days, most credit card companies can see when you're traveling in a different country, but it's still worth notifying your bank and credit card company of your travel dates ahead of time so transactions aren't blocked once you're abroad. It doesn't take much time to let them know — you can usually take care of it online or on your bank's app — and it will be worth not having your credit card rejected while trying to purchase dinner for you and a travel buddy.
Also, always make sure you have cash on hand when traveling, both in U.S. dollars and in the official currency of wherever you're visiting. You never know when you will need back-up to pay for something.
Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
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