By Vicky Anscombe on 10 July 2015

The crisis in Greece has prompted travel organisations to advise tourists to take cash with them on holiday, as using cards may not be an option. However, this has worried many tourists, who don’t feel comfortable with carrying - or stashing - their cash.

Tourists will need to be vigilant - but there’s absolutely no reason to let a fraudster or pickpocket ruin your next vacation; here’s how to keep your money safe when you’re abroad.

Multi-stash to keep your cash safe

Never put all your eggs in one basket - or keep all your money in one place. Hide funds around your hotel room or in your suitcase, split cash between members of your party and always use the hotel room safe, if there is one.

We know that you wouldn’t do this anyway, but never, ever leave cash or cards lying around in your hotel room. As a rule, hotel workers are honest, but there have been cases where money and cards have gone missing. They also have access to your room, and if your room door is accidentally left unlocked, other hotel guests can come in and rifle through your belongings.

Only take out what you need

If you’re going out for a meal, and only a meal, just take enough to cover that. Don’t carry all of your money on you all of the time in order to keep it safe; you’re better off leaving it in your hotel room, where it can be locked away.

Keep your insurance in mind

Check your policy wording to see what your travel insurance covers in terms of cash. Most travel insurance websites have a ‘What we cover’ page where you can see cover limits at a glance. (In case you were wondering, we cover cash that you carry with you or that’s locked in a safe up to $1,000. See Section 7 - Personal Money and Travel Documents of our PDS for details).

What if your money does get stolen despite your best efforts to keep it safe? You may be able to claim all or some of it back from your travel insurance. Check the policy wording as soon as possible to find out if you’re covered and what documents are needed for your claim. Often, you’ll need to show that you’ve filed a police report within 24 hours of the incident.

Get inventive

It’s worth investing in a slim-fit, wire-reinforced money belt which you can wear under your clothes. The extra-strong strap means that thieves can’t just slash it and run, and by keeping it under your clothes, you’re denying thieves visibility.

Keep your cash out of sight

Common sense prevails here; don’t flash wads of cash, especially if you’re in a poor area. Organise your money before you leave your hotel room, and don’t carry cash that you don’t need.

If you’re not headed to Greece and don’t have to rely on cash to fund your holiday expenses, we have the following tips for you...

Be careful which ATMs you use

Your ideal ATM will be in a busy location - preferably not a tourist hotspot - and not hidden away. Secluded ATMs are prone to cause trouble for tourists, as local thieves are opportunists.

Use ATMs located inside your hotel, or near busy areas, and plan your ATM visits wisely. Don’t go late and night or early in the morning, and make your visits brief; don’t hang about, counting your money on the street.

Fool thieves with a fake wallet

Rule number one - always carry a dummy wallet with expired cards and pieces of cardboard tucked into the card slots, which will fool a thief in a hurry.

Some people add a few local currency coins to make it seem extra genuine, which is a good idea; if you are unlucky enough to get mugged, they’ll probably be in too much of a hurry to check if it’s stuffed with real cash or not.

Plump for credit, not cash

If you’re big on overspending, you may feel a bit wary about using your card for most purchases, but bear with us - cash isn’t replaceable if you lose your wallet. If you’re worried about going over your budget, just keep your wits about you, and your receipts, so you can work out how much money you’re spending.

Here’s our reasoning; if someone steals your credit card, you’re usually not liable for unauthorised charges. Even with a debit card, your bank will likely refund fraudulent purchases, although it may take a few days for the funds to arrive in your account.

There is one downside to using cards - the foreign transaction fees (some credit card providers charge a fee of 2% to 3% to convert the currency). If you’re planning a trip abroad, you can find credit cards that don’t have a foreign transaction fee.

Make a note of important numbers

It’s vital that you let your bank know as soon as your cards are lost or stolen. Make a note of your bank’s contact details (these will often be found on the back of your card) and make sure that you know your account number and sort code. The bank may also ask you to name a few recent purchases you’ve made, so always try and memorise a few things you’ve used your card for.

Make multiple copies of the front and back of your credit and debit cards before leaving home, or write down your account and customer service numbers - however, make sure that you keep this in the hotel safe.

Image credit: Flickr, with thanks to Alf Melin

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