6 Tips For Using Your Debit Card Abroad

Are you planning a trip abroad and wondering if you can use your debit card while traveling internationally? Debit cards have become a convenient way to make everyday purchases, but using them overseas requires some careful consideration.

From understanding the fees to scouting out ATM locations, we will provide you with six essential tips for using your debit card abroad.

1. Know Your Debit Card’s International Acceptance

Before you embark on your international adventure, it’s important to determine whether your credit union or financial institution allows international debit card usage.

While most debit cards are backed by trusted financial brands like Visa or Mastercard, individual credit unions have the authority to set their own rules for international usage.

To avoid any surprises, contact your financial institution and verify their policies regarding international debit card usage.

2. Be Aware of Transaction Fees

While you can use your debit card overseas, it’s important to consider the associated fees. Depending on the terms of your debit card agreement, transaction fees, currency exchange fees, and international ATM fees can make your purchases more expensive.

To minimize these fees, plan your card usage and cash withdrawals strategically. Some larger financial institutions have partnership agreements that allow their account holders to use international banking services free of charge. Before you travel, inquire about your credit union’s foreign fee policies to make informed decisions.

3. Find In-Network ATMs

Using in-network ATMs can help you avoid additional fees when withdrawing cash overseas. If your credit union is part of a cooperative network, you may have access to in-network ATMs in foreign countries. Even if your credit union doesn’t offer international ATMs, your Visa or Mastercard debit card may still allow you to withdraw cash without excessive out-of-network fees.

To find in-network ATMs near your destination, consider using online search sites like the VISA ATM Locator, or Mastercard ATM Locator. By planning ahead and choosing in-network ATMs, you can save money on transaction fees during your travels.

Recommended Reada: Saving And Budgeting Strategies For Nigerians Abroad

4. Notify Your Credit Union

Before you travel abroad, it’s essential to inform your credit union about your plans. Some credit unions require members to provide notification of international travel as a security precaution. By notifying your credit union in advance, you can ensure that your debit card won’t be flagged for suspicious activity while you’re overseas.

Additionally, take this opportunity to inquire about any pre-travel authorization procedures or international usage restrictions that your credit union may have. Understanding these policies beforehand will allow you to plan accordingly and avoid any inconveniences during your trip. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring a smooth and worry-free experience.

5. Create a Backup Plan

While using your debit card extensively during your trip is convenient, it’s always wise to have backup options in case of any issues. Debit card declines, loss, or theft can happen, so having alternative payment methods will provide peace of mind. Consider the following backup options:

  • Credit Cards: Carry a credit card as an alternative payment method. Credit cards offer reliable payment options and can come in handy if your debit card is declined or lost.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: Purchase a prepaid debit card specifically for your international travels. These cards are easy to use and can be a convenient backup option.
  • Traveler’s Checks: Although less popular today, traveler’s checks are still accepted in many places and provide added security in case of theft or loss.

It’s recommended to keep at least one payment option separate from your wallet. This way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll still have access to funds. While it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any issues, having a backup plan will give you peace of mind.

6. Monitor Your Account Activity

During your travels, it’s crucial to monitor your account activity regularly. Keep track of your purchases, withdrawals, and account balances to ensure that there are no unauthorized transactions. Set up mobile banking alerts to receive notifications of any suspicious activity immediately.

If you notice any discrepancies or unauthorized charges, contact your credit union immediately. They will guide you through the necessary steps to resolve the issue and protect your account. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can minimize the impact of any fraudulent activity on your trip.


It’s crucial to contact your financial institution directly for the most accurate information regarding using your debit card abroad.

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