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Advice

5 financial steps to take before your next overseas trip

You need to plan ahead before you travel abroad. CNBC Select recommends five financial tips to ensure smooth sailing overseas.

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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, from having the right travel card to budgeting wisely.

Below, CNBC Select recommends five money savvy tips to ensure smooth sailing overseas.

5 financial steps to take before making your next overseas trip

  1. Start saving now
  2. Choose the right travel card
  3. Enroll in Global Entry
  4. Make sure you have travel insurance
  5. Notify your credit card company of travel dates

1. Start saving now

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 CNBC 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."

2. Choose the right travel card

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 up to $100 credit to cover airline fees (such as seat upgrades and baggage fees with participating airlines) and $100 in hotel credits when you book rooms through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel. Users also earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X Membership Rewards® points on dining worldwide.

For a no-annual-fee travel card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a well-rounded card that offers unlimited 3X points per dollar spent on dining out, travel and a number of streaming services, including Apple Music, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify Premium. The card gives you points not just on flights and hotels, but also car rentals, homestays and ridesharing services. Cardholders can take advantage of lost luggage reimbursement, car rental loss and damage insurance, roadside assistance and 24/7 travel and emergency assistance.

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.

3. Enroll in Global Entry

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.

4. Make sure you have travel insurance

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.

5. Notify your credit card company of travel dates

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 Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card and Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.