September 06, 2011 | By: Roxanne Ramedani

$1.50 ain't much but I'd rather spend that on a KAWFEE.

On August 18 I embarked on a short but amazing trip to New York City. Aside from all my last minute jitters and the weeks of planning and stressing …everything went according to plan.  I enjoyed every moment of my adventure in the Big Apple. Everything from the food, the people, the energetic and uplifting environment, and not to mention the amazing fashion had me in complete awe.  But all of this could have gone completely sour if I hadn’t taken a few precautionary steps before leaving the country. It’s true, New York is known for being an expensive city; however, there are plenty of things you can do to keep extra costs down before visiting.
First I called my bank to let them know I would be out of the country, the last thing I wanted was for my card to be compromised during my stay in New York. Banks monitor your spending habits and have a good idea of your routines so if they see a random purchase (especially one outside of the country) they may suspend your debit/credit card usage until they can get a hold of you and depending on your mobile cell service provider that may or may never happen. I made sure that they placed a note on my account and verified my days of travel and then I started to ask away, remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry or even worse… in debt.
I asked a whole bunch of questions about any extra fees that I would have to pay in the United States when using my card(s). The last thing I wanted was to come back to a surprise bill at the end of the month or shortage of funds during my trip. I asked the following questions and you definitely should too!
1. Would I be charged extra per transaction because I was outside of the country?
2. What are my daily limits in withdrawing money?
3. How much will I be charged if I withdraw money from an ATM?
4. Would my bank automatically convert my Canadian money to American and is there a fee for the conversion as well?
5. What are traveler’s cheques? Where can I get them?
6.  What sort of Travel Medical Insurance do you provide? What’s the best option for me?
7. If something happens is there a toll free 1-800 number I can contact?
I’m glad I called because I was informed about charges I didn’t know about for example: every time I use my debit I’d be charged $1.50 from my service provider and purchasing American currency might be a better option for me if I intend to make a lot of transactions with my debit. To some, these questions may seem very obvious but you never know until you ask and confirm. Imagine piling up all these extra fees and running out of money during your stay?
Debit cards and credit cards may or may not have the same fees so make sure to clarify everything before you start spending money. Fortunately for me, my credit card and debit are both provided by the same bank, but if you have other cards you wish to use during your vacation, call your service provider and ask the same questions.


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