My favorite thing about working at Virtus Wealth Management is the people; not only my great colleagues but also our clients and partners that make every day a joy to come to work. As I shoot the breeze with people before or after a meeting, I find it absolutely fascinating to hear about the incredible trips and vacations that our clients have the opportunity to experience. From golfing in Scotland, to biking and camping in Australia, to cooking classes in Italy, our clients continue to come up with amazing ways to enjoy the wealth and lifestyle that they have worked so hard to build and protect.
If you have ever tried to book an overseas trip you know it is typically not a cheap endeavor. After spending all of that money on flights, hotels, cruises, and activities, the last thing you want is to get caught up in is a bad financial situation while out of the country. In order to help prevent financial risk while traveling we have a few tips that everyone should consider for their next trip.
I am sure this has happened to most of us, you go to pay for something and your credit card is declined because your bank thinks it was stolen. Avoid this embarrassment by taking the time to inform your bank that you will be travelling. Be sure to let them know every place you will be going, including layovers and stopping points.
Holding a little cash, domestic or foreign, before you leave can help prevent you from having to immediately find a cash machine when you arrive at your destination. While you are stopping by the bank to tell them of your travel plans, go ahead and purchase a small amount of foreign currency for peace of mind.
Most major purchases should be made with your credit card. Your maximum liability for unauthorized credit card charges is $50. Meanwhile, if somebody gets their hand on your debit card, that is a direct line to your bank account and much more damage can be done. Make sure to bring a backup credit card just in case.
Clothing/jewelry wise, and credit card wise. Unless you plan on having tea with the Queen, perhaps you can leave the pearls and extra jewelry at home, safe from pickpockets.
Staying organized and mindful of all your valuables is much easier when you travel light. Clutter can lead to things being forgotten about or misplaced, don’t be that person rummaging around all of your luggage looking for your ID.
Consider leaving anything with your Social Security Number (SSN) at home. For health insurance cards, it is best practice to make a copy of the card, remove the last 4 digits of your SSN and just bring that copy with you, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Along with copies of health insurance cards as noted above, it can be a good idea to keep photocopies of drivers license, passports, credit cards, medical power of attorney, and any other important documents that would put you in a tough situation if they were lost or stolen.
Our clients also have the ability to store copies of important documents digitally and securely with the online Virtus Vault. This way you can log into your personal secure Virtus Vault account from your smartphone, or anywhere there is internet, to obtain copies of all your important documents.
When you are out sightseeing the last thing you want to be worried about is the safety of your valuable items and important documents. Using a hotel lock box is a much more secure way to hold your valuables than hiding them away in your suitcase or locked in the car.
A money belt may not be the most attractive thing for your vacation photos but it sure is effective at preventing pickpockets and keeping important documents, credit cards, and ID’s safe. They are basically a snug fitting fanny pack that you wear underneath a layer of clothes and you can get them all over for around $20.
Doing your research of foreign destinations before your trip can help prevent you ending up somewhere you don’t really want to be. Read up on the types of transportation, what’s around your hotel, whether or not it is cash only, and importantly, which areas to avoid or be mindful of.
Good travel insurance can cover you when medical insurance won’t, particularly for international travelers. It protects against trip delays, offers rental car coverage, and covers lost luggage and accidental death. Finding a great travel insurance plan doesn’t have to be difficult but you have to read the fine print very carefully to avoid getting stuck with a useless policy. One of the biggest insurance loopholes is limits on pre-existing conditions which insurance companies do to try to limit their exposure.
When you get back from your trip or if you have some down time during, look through your bank and credit card transactions and make sure everything adds up. The sooner you alert the credit card company of any fraudulent activity, the better your chances of minimizing theft.
At Virtus Wealth Management a large percentage of what we do is related to Risk Management. As we have seen, there are ways to manage financial risk when traveling, but these will not account for much if you do not first assess the risk in your overall finances. Risk of things such as death or disability, lawsuits, portfolio losses, or losing a job can all be planned for by working with a holistic wealth manager such as those at Virtus Wealth Management. If you would like a Personal Risk Assessment detailing the areas of your financial life that are potentially exposed to unnecessary risk, call or email us today.
Josh, Hubman, CFP®
Director of Financial Modeling
2535 East Southlake Blvd., Suite 100
Southlake, TX 76092
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Level Four Advisory Services, a registered investment advisor. Level Four Advisory Services and Virtus Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.