Ideas and Tips for Hassle-Free Travels
When you go on vacation, the last thing you want is to have trouble with access to your money. We don’t want that for you either, so here is some information and some suggestions to prepare in advance so you can relax and enjoy your travels.
Can I use my WSECU Visa® debit and credit cards in foreign countries?
Yes, you can; however, many foreign countries have transitioned to EMV chip-enabled cards. WSECU has not yet transitioned to these cards, so you may have transactions denied in some places. We suggest you also carry alternative methods of payment. More information is available here.
We also have restrictions in certain countries; click here for details.
What foreign transaction fee does WSECU charge?
We only pass along what we are charged for converting the foreign transaction amount to U.S. currency, which is 1%. You may notice that many major banks tack on an extra percentage for profit.
Does WSECU offer currency exchange?
At this time, we only offer currency exchange for Canadian money — bills only, not coin. We are looking into other options for the future. If you would like to exchange currency, please let us know in advance so we can be sure to have your money ready when you need it.
Will my ATM card work abroad?
Yes, providing the ATMs are on the networks shown on the back of your card. Restrictions apply in certain countries; click here for details. Please note that surcharge fees may apply in addition to the 1% foreign transaction fee. We suggest replacing your ATM card with a WSECU Visa® debit card because it can be used for purchases as well as ATM transactions. A WSECU checking account is required.
Is there a charge for using foreign ATMs?
There will likely be a surcharge fee (in addition to the 1% foreign transaction amount), which will vary from institution to institution. WSECU is part of the CO-OP® ATM network, which offers surcharge-free access in several countries including Canada, Greece, Guam, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico and Spain. Find locations here.
Does WSECU’s Visa® Rewards program offer any travel benefits?
Yes, it does! You can use your Reward points to put toward baggage fees. You can also use them to purchase airline tickets and pay for hotels. Visit our Rewards site for more information.
I have a vehicle that I financed with WSECU that I want to drive out of the country. Are there any restrictions?
If you are planning to take your vehicle to your vacation destination that is out of the country (including Canada and Mexico) and your vehicle is financed with us, we’ll need to have an Out of Country request document completed by you. Processing of this document takes one to two business days, so please contact us for the form in advance of your travel dates so we can keep you on track for your vacation.
Tips and Tricks
Familiarize yourself with the currency
To avoid being scammed or taken advantage of, learn what the denominations are for bills and coin for any foreign country you’ll be traveling to. Denominations in other countries do not work the same as they do in the United States—for example, some have coin instead of bills for smaller denominations.
Locate financial institutions and ATM networks in advance
Find out which financial institutions are located in the area of the country you are visiting and what ATM networks are available in that country. Look on the back of your debit, credit or ATM card for the logos of the ATM networks you can use. A good online resource to search for international ATMs for your WSECU Visa debit and cards is the Visa® World Wide locater service.
Using ATMs in foreign countries
Be sure to take the normal precautions you would take at home; e.g., being aware of your surroundings, ensuring you are in a well-lit, public location and leaving if you notice anything or anyone who looks suspicious. Fraud occurs internationally, so take a look at the ATM before you use it to see if you can detect any type of skimming device. We also suggest using ATMs that are located inside a financial institution rather than freestanding machines.
Debit card vs. credit card: which one to use at an ATM
Using your debit card will likely incur less of a charge since using your credit card at an ATM is considered a cash advance, which usually incurs a fee on top of any surcharge and foreign exchange fees. Additionally, interest begins accruing on cash advances the day they are made.
Carry more than one debit and credit card
It’s a good idea to have a backup in case your primary debit and/or credit card doesn’t work. For instance, you can use your WSECU debit card as your primary card and your WSECU credit card as a backup. It is also a good idea to carry cards from different financial institutions in case one financial institution experiences system outages that prevent you from accessing your account.
You should always have cash on hand as a back-up. Of course, we encourage you to be prudent in how much you carry with you and to keep what you aren’t carrying with you in a secure place. Money belts are one way to carry cash with you securely; they are small, zippered pouches that fit under your clothing. Many online and travel retailers offer money belts for sale.
The world of technology makes account access even easier these days. With wireless connections, mobile devices and computers, you can access your accounts online from anywhere in the world. Of course, we’d love to have you sign up for our free Online Banking service (if you haven’t already) so you can check on your accounts and perform transactions as needed on your travels. Mobile Banking is another option, though we suggest checking with your wireless carrier for associated data usage charges.
Let Us Know About Your Travel Plans
In keeping with our goal to protect you from fraud, we have security measures in place to monitor unusual activity on your account that could restrict your ability to use your WSECU debit, credit and ATM cards if we are unaware of your travel plans. Here are some steps to take before you head out of town:
- Notify us of your travel plans a minimum of three days in advance. Be sure to let us know the dates and locations you’ll be visiting, especially if you’re traveling abroad.
- Take more than one form of payment. Just another reminder, to take one or more additional forms of payment such as a credit card or cash in addition to your WSECU debit card. This way, if a transaction is denied or your card is blocked, you will have a backup.
- Be sure the primary phone number we have on file is the one where we can reach you in the event of a questionable transaction or suspected fraud. For example, if your cell phone is the best way to reach you, let us know and provide us with that number. If your home number has voicemail that you will be checking regularly and it is the best way to reach you, advise us that this is your preference. This way, any issues can be addressed immediately to lessen the inconvenience to you.
- If you are traveling abroad and need to contact us, please note that our toll-free number does not work internationally. You can reach us by calling 360.943.7911 or by sending a secure e-mail through our website. If you are a Mobile Banking user, you can also send a secure e-mail via your mobile device.
- Visit the Visa® USA website for instructions and contact information to have on hand in case your Visa debit or credit card is lost or stolen during your travels.
- Click here for information about how we protect you from fraud and additional details on our efforts to keep your travels safe and as hassle-free as possible.
Wondering about other reasons why your transactions could be denied? Find the answers here. If you have further questions or concerns, give us a call at 800.562.0999. We wish you safe and happy travels!