Tips for Managing Program Funds On-Site

It is important that faculty directors are able to access program funds at all times while overseas. Given that not all ways of accessing money work in every location all of the time, the Study Abroad Office (SAO) strongly recommends that faculty directors have more than one way to access program funds.

There are multiple ways of accessing funds while overseas, including:

  • VISA TravelMoney Card and other Prepaid Credit Cards
    • Visa TravelMoney is a prepaid re-loadable Visa debit card which offers travelers a safe and convenient alternative to traveler’s checks and cash. They can be used everywhere Visa credit and debit cards are accepted.
    • Prepaid credit cards are a safe alternative to travelers’ checks with the convenience of a credit card. The pre-paid cards can be pre-loaded with an amount of money set by you, and then used anywhere that Visa is accepted.
    • Advantages: Excellent exchange rates for withdrawals, 24-hour access. If card is lost or stolen, only a limited amount of cash can be withdrawn daily. Learn more about the benefits.
  • ATM card
    • Cards on the Cirrus, Plus, or Visa system provide widely available access in most overseas locations.
    • Advantages: Excellent exchange rates for withdrawals, 24-hour access.
    • Disadvantages:  Card could be lost, stolen, or accidentally demagnetized.  Limited amount of cash can be withdrawn daily.  You must have an additional way to access funds during your program.
    • The State Employees Credit Union will allow customers to switch their ATM/check card from one account to another. This means that if faculty director chooses to open an account with program funds specifically for use while on the program, it is possible to switch the ATM card to access the new account as opposed to receiving a second card. Please contact your local branch for specific details.
  • Personal Credit Cards
    • Visa and, to some extent, Master Card are widely accepted almost anywhere in the world.
    • Advantages:  Widely accepted and can be replaced if lost or stolen.
    • Disadvantages:  High transaction fees and interest for cash advances.

NOTE: Any of these methods of cash management may cause you to incur transaction, conversion, or service fees. Generally, transaction/service fees are considered a reimbursable expense; however, faculty directors will have to submit a receipt for all fees in order to be reimbursed.  A conversion/transaction fee is different than the exchange rate.  In most cases, the exchange rate will be noted on the receipt from an exchange, and the fees will be an additional line. Please consult the SAO budget manager if you have questions about this.

  • Traveler’s checks
    • If a faculty director prefers, traveler’s checks may be an alternative.  They are offered at AAA (free for members) and some banks and credit unions.  Traveler’s checks in a foreign currency (rather than U.S. dollars) are often more convenient on-site. AAA or your local bank may not have them in stock and may require advance notice to order them.  Also, purchasing and selling back unused foreign currency traveler’s checks will usually involve exchange rate losses so keep this in mind as you’re deciding how many funds you will need on-site.
    • Advantages: Widely accepted, easily cashed in major cities, and can be replaced if lost or stolen.
    • Disadvantages: Might be difficult to cash in less populated areas; commission often charged.

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