Credit Unions – How to Help Your Members Enjoy the Perfect Vacation

Recent US Travel Advisories for Jamaica and The Bahamas have raised awareness of travel safety, putting some in the tourism industry on high alert. The warnings (The Bahamas, Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution; Jamaica, Level 3, Re-consider Travel) are broadly in response to increased thefts and muggings in The Bahamas, and gang-related violence in Jamaica. The warnings forecast a dip in tourism for these destinations, and pose a longer-term reputational challenge, potentially deterring future visits. Combined, they highlight the central importance of careful vacation planning.

Preparation – the key to safety and enjoyment

For many Americans, a vacation is a significant discretionary purchase. It’s influenced by cost, safety considerations, and the practicalities of travel arrangements. Amid these concerns,  preparedness is more important, particularly regarding the financial aspects of traveling abroad.

The U.S. Department of State provides a comprehensive Traveler’s Checklist that covers aspects like documentation and travel insurance. Crucially, about money it has clear advice. “Before going abroad, notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel, and check exchange rates. For information about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs overseas, read the country information page for your destination.”

Such a simple statement packs a lot of information. It’s good advice, of course, but leaves a lot to cover. For example, although in many destinations it is possible to use your regular debit card to withdraw local currency from an ATM, doing so may incur considerable extra cost by way of extra fees like “currency conversion” or “foreign transaction.”

A better foreign currency solution, for a smoother journey

Here lies an opportunity for credit unions to step in and offer valuable services that enhance their members’ travel experiences. One of the most practical steps a traveler can take is to secure foreign currency before departure. This helps avoid hefty fees associated with airport exchanges or destination purchases; it also reduces reliance on cards, which can attract additional charges.

Money 4 Travel, provided by Essiell, emerges as the ideal solution for credit unions aiming to support their members in this area. The service allows travelers to conveniently purchase foreign currency through easy-to-use platforms like smartphones or PCs, with the option to collect the currency at their local credit union branch. This convenience is matched by the seamless behind-the-scenes functionality, ensuring ease of use for both staff and customers.

Moreover, with the foreign currency taken care of by Money 4 Travel, branch staff have more time to engage with members. And what better way to add value to the vacation than offer suitable travel insurance as well?

Build in convenience, and add value

As travel requirements change, particularly in response to safety advisories and changing traveler needs, credit unions have a unique chance to offer tangible, valuable services that go beyond traditional banking. By adopting solutions like Money 4 Travel, they can play a crucial role in their members’ travel preparations. They can help ensure they are financially equipped and ready to fully enjoy their vacations.

So, while Travel Advisories may cause some travelers to reconsider their destination, they’re also a reminder of the importance of thorough travel preparation. For credit unions, this is an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to their members’ needs, providing them with the tools and services to be confident in their choices, at home and abroad. Top of Form

By Declan Morton, staff writer at Money 4 Travel and Essiell Ltd.


For reference

US State Department Travel Advisories , US State Department Traveler’s Checklist

Travel money traps: Don’t let hidden fees and declined cards ruin your trip!  Gulf News, February 15, 2024

Travel Industry Experts Weigh in On Recent Travel Advisories, Travel Pulse, February 13, 2024

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