5 ways to keep your money safe while travelling
07 September 2023Last Updated:25 August 2023
Woman using an ATM while travelling

Money doesn’t make the world go around – except that it kind of does when you’re travelling. When you’re in a foreign city without friends or family nearby, it’s comforting to know that you at least have the means to pay for data, a meal and a place to sleep. It’s the difference between ‘epic holiday’ and ‘okay, time to panic’. Naturally, you want to keep your money – and your access to it – safe. Here are five ways to do that.

1. Load your card with your cash for the day

By now you know that it’s cheaper to travel with a Shyft multicurrency card, because you avoid the expensive conversion fees you’d pay if you used your everyday South African credit card abroad. But here’s another great bonus: Shyft allows you to control how much money is loaded on the card at any time. That means you can top it up with just what you need for that day’s adventures, rather than having your entire travel fund linked to one easily lost little piece of plastic. And if you need more moolah while you’re on the go, just open Shyft and top up in a few taps.

2. Stash some back-up cash

Keep a little cold, hard cash on hand for specific situations. You may come across an incredible market that doesn’t accept card transactions. Maybe you’ll want to tip a super-talented street performer. Or maybe the worse-case scenario happens and you lose your wallet at the same moment that your phone battery dies.

You don’t need to wander around with a wad of banknotes; probably just enough to cover transport back to your accommodation or the price of a meal so you can use a café’s phone-charging station. Familiarise yourself with the look and feel of the currency before you need it. That way, you won’t be in a panic about what a 10 looks like versus a hundred, and you’re also less likely to get scammed out of your correct change. Keep your cash safe on your person or in an inside pocket of your bag that isn’t accessible to someone standing behind you in a crowd.

If you end up spending your cash stash, draw a little more the next day. Travel emergencies don’t always happen only one at a time.

3. Stay away from sketchy ATMs

Speaking of drawing cash, choose your ATMs wisely. Preferably draw from machines that are at a bank branch or that display a local bank’s branding. Standalone private ATMs are infamous for charging super-high fees, plus they’re more easily tampered with by crooks trying to clone your cards.

Always withdraw cash during daylight hours in places with lots of foot traffic. Avoid using isolated ATMs, especially at night, which could make you a target for pickpockets or muggers.  

4. Know what to do if something goes wrong

Having a contingency plan for your card being lost or stolen will help you to stay calm if it happens. Here are a few things to do to prepare for this travel boo-boo:

  • Order two or more Shyft multicurrency cards at once. Take one out and about with you and keep the back-ups secure at your accommodation. If the one in use goes missing, use your emergency cash stash to get back to base and break out the next card. 
  • Know how to deactivate your card. Immediately log into Shyft, scroll down to “Cards” and select the one that’s gone walkabouts. Tap on the green "Enabled" icon below the card. The icon should then change to red and reflect as "Disabled". Next, return any remaining balances on your card to your wallet.
  • If you didn’t notice your card was missing right away, and there’s been fraudulent activity on it, contact Shyft support and provide them with the details of the fraudulent transactions.
5. Notify your bank in case of emergency

Let’s say you didn’t order back-up multicurrency cards. Let’s say, instead, you’re bringing along your everyday South African credit card as your contingency plan. You’ll need to let your bank know that you’re going to be out of the country and potentially using that card. Otherwise, they’ll block it at your first swipe abroad, and you’ll be cut off from your emergency money stream.

There you have it, folks. Follow these five steps and you can spend more time enjoying your trip and less time worrying about whether or not your money is safe. Happy trails!

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