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I. Money Matters
Become familiar with the local currency & exchange rates. Two web sites which you may helpful are Oanda and XE.

Devise a budget for your time abroad. Be sure to include the cost of local transportation, books, a local cell phone, cultural excursions and longer trips, personal expenditures (toiletries, school supplies, clothes), and food. A good rule of thumb is to budget 3 times what you would spend in a semester at school (not including tuition & housing). Your program director should be able to give you an idea of estimated expenses.

Arrange for any monthly bills (cell phone, credit cards, etc.) to still be paid while you are abroad.

Arrive with $100.00 - $150.00 in local currency. This will be helpful for buses, taxis, phone calls, tips (depending on the culture), and other incidentals when you first arrive.

You can “buy” foreign currency from major banks or at the airport before leaving the U.S.

As a back-up to your debit or credit card, you can carry a prepaid Visa travel debit card (available through AAA) or traveler’s checks.

II. Banking, ATMs, and Credit Cards
Check with your bank and debit/credit card providers about international transaction fees (these can quickly add up!). Also, register your dates of travel with your credit and debit card companies. This is important because fraud services will freeze your account(s) if they notice unusual transactions overseas. Be sure to write down an international customer service number for your debit and credit cards as well.

Check with your bank to see if they have any partnerships with overseas banks. Using these partner bank ATMs can greatly reduce or eliminate fees. You should also know your daily withdrawal limit (in both U.S. dollars and your foreign currency).  In general, one way to know which ATMs you can use is to look for the PLUS, CIRRUS, and/or MAESTRO signs. Check the back of your ATM card to determine its network. If your debit card has the MasterCard or Visa logo, you can utilize the MasterCard or Visa Global ATM locators to find ATMs in your host country.

Keep a list of your credit card numbers or make photocopies in case your cards are lost or stolen. Give one copy to someone in the U.S. and keep a copy with you in a safe place (not in your wallet). In general, credit cards are not used as prevalently abroad as they are in the U.S. Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted abroad than American Express. Depending on which country you're in, you may need to get used to carrying more cash than you would at home. Consider investing in a travel security wallet.

Most countries now use PIN & chip cards, so it is recommended to request a card with a chip from your credit card company if you do not already have one. You may also need a PIN number to use this card, so don't forget to take it with you.

If you are studying abroad for an academic year, you may want to open an account at a local bank for the duration of your stay. This may, however, be quite bureaucratic and arduous. It is best to ask your program director whether or not you should open a local bank account.

III. Make a budget
Being able to adequately manage your finance is a great life-long skill that can also be an important part of your study abroad experience. Frommers, Diversity Abroad, and Budget Your Trip provide information for "how" to travel on a budget. Your budget, however, will ultimately depend on the amount of funds you have available, the cost of living in your host nation, what your spending habits are etc.

If you would like to create your own budget for your time overseas, below is a tentative guideline. Please keep in mind that all of the items may not be applicable to your situation.

Additional Information:
Tentative Budget
Ultimate Student Guide to Financing Your Life Abroad

Last modified 07/20/2017

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