Helping CU Members Pay Safe while Abroad

For anyone planning a vacation abroad, the big items – flights, accommodation – are often the easiest choices. The details, like the best way to meet expenses while in the destination can be more complex. However we pay, it needs to be economical and secure, but there’s an ocean of advice out there. How best to plan?

Online resources abound, offering comparisons of debit and credit cards,  and mixtures of solutions. There are exchange rates and fees to consider, and the pitfalls of dynamic currency conversion at ATMs — where choosing to select transactions in one’s home currency can lead to excessive charges. For banks and credit unions (CUs), crafting an offer that is both competitive and cost-effective, while meeting consumer needs, presents a significant challenge.

Payment Options Abroad  – Versatility Matters

The decision-making process can be daunting. The options seem clear but not always the choice. Debit cards are usually affordable but fraught with risk of fraud or theft especially in tourist hotspots. The consequences of loss can be substantial. Credit cards are convenient but costly for cash withdrawals and usually saddled with poor exchange rates. Pre-paid foreign currency cards can access good exchange rates but sometimes lack flexibility. Dedicated travel debit accounts safeguard main accounts but require additional management.

Many travelers rely on a mix of these methods. Cash should not be overlooked. Indeed, since the spread of digital payments, its value in foreign transactions has often been underestimated. Cash offers several advantages, such as:

  • Universality: Cash is accepted by a wider range of vendors than cards, especially in smaller establishments and remote locations.
  • Reliability: Cash is unaffected by power outages or technical glitches that can plague electronic transactions.
  • Security:  Lost or stolen cash is undeniably inconvenient, but it doesn’t compromise your entire financial well-being. Lost or stolen cards can be disastrous.

Given that much vacation spending is on multiple small-scale purchases, cash delivers tremendous value. Once abroad, it proves its worth.

Using the Credit Union’s Natural Advantage

Advance planning allows travelers to obtain foreign currency cash at competitive exchange rates. Credit unions have an advantage here: their not-for-profit status gives more choice as to favorable rates than their for-profit counterparts. However, the efficiency of a CU’s foreign exchange (FX) service can further enhance the value they provide. Herein lies the advantage of partnering with a specialist provider to delivers convenience for the CU member – the customer –  and efficiency for local branches and the wider organization.

Finding the Right Partner Solution

This requires a service like Money 4 Travel. Customer convenience (travelers book currency via smartphone or PC and collect it from their branch) is married with seamless integration into existing systems. Its backend functionality ensures that CUs can provide an efficient and competitive service while the front-end simplifies the currency exchange process for members. A high degree of automation and easy use mean CU staff have more time to assist customers in other ways. This blend of in-branch convenience and behind-the-scenes efficiency makes it a compelling choice.

As CUs strive to continually improve their offer to members, services like Money 4 Travel provide a balance of convenience, cost, and security. By adopting such a service, CUs not only enhance their value proposition but also affirm their commitment to supporting members’ financial well-being, both at home and on vacation abroad.

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

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