Keeping money, passports and credit cards safe

We all want to relax on holiday but it’s important to take steps to protect your money. Here are some tips to ensure you don’t end up in a cash crisis when you’re away.

Before you go

Think about how much currency you want to take. Carrying a lot of money around is risky so it’s worth working out how much cash you really need.

Bear in mind that debit and credit cards are now accepted across the world and are a more secure way to pay than with cash. This is because if your card is stolen, you can claim the money back. If money is stolen, it may not be covered by your travel insurance.

One option is to load up cash onto a pre-paid currency card. If it’s stolen, then a new card will be sent to you with whatever amount is left at the time of the theft.

You can still buy travellers cheques to take away with you, but very few places accept them.

The Foreign & Commonwealth website has a guide to countries you might visit which includes a section on money and plastic card safety for each country.

Emergency numbers

It’s a good idea to write down the account numbers of plastic cards you plan to take away with you along with the emergency phone numbers you may need to ring to report their loss.

Give a copy to a family member or friend back home so that if you lose the details, you can call them for the information.

Keep safety in mind

The less money you have on you, the less you can lose. While it’s useful to have some cash abroad for paying tips or taxi drivers, don’t take all your holiday money with you every time you go out.

Take what you need for each day and leave the rest in a wall safe in your room where you can also store valuables and any important documents such as your passport, travel insurance or flight tickets.

If there isn’t a safe in your room you may be able to give money and valuables to reception to lock in the hotel’s safe. If there’s no safe available then you can either keep your valuables on you or hide them in your room.

Make sure the door to your room and any windows are locked at all times (even when you’re in it) and don’t leave any valuables on display. For more on hotel safety see our guide.

Carrying cash and valuables safely

Try to avoid carrying a wallet in your back pocket; that’s an invitation to thieves.

A money belt is a good way of keeping valuables safe but keep a card separate from your cash or other cards so that if your jacket, purse or wallet is stolen, you have another card to fall back on while you sort things out.

The same goes for your passport and driving licence. If you have them both on you keep them in separate pockets too.

If you have a handbag it’s a good idea to keep it strapped across your body instead of on your shoulder as this makes it harder to snatch. And of course, never lose sight of your bag or purse.

Personal safety

It’s easy to relax when you’re on holiday but it’s important to stay alert when walking around and avoid making yourself a target. Here are some tips.

  • Avoid walking down dark, empty streets on your own particularly at night.
  • If you’re using a cash machine be aware of your surroundings and don’t get distracted.
  • Shield the cash machine keypad when you enter your PIN and make sure no-one is looking over your shoulder.
  • Never let plastic cards out of your sight. Crooks only need a few second to clone a card so don’t let anyone take it away from you.

For more on personal safety see our guide.

What to do if your cards or important documents are stolen

If you are unlucky enough to be a victim of a crime, don’t panic. Tell the police, so there’s a crime report on file and make sure you get any reference numbers. You’ll need these when you call your plastic card companies. In most cases cards will be replaced within 24 hours, and you won’t be liable for any charges to your card.

If you lose your passport or it’s stolen you should cancel it as soon as possible. You can do this on the Gov.uk website. Once you’ve done this you can then apply for an emergency travel document online which costs £100. You will then need to make an appointment with your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate and in most cases you’ll get your emergency travel document on the day of your appointment.

To report a lost or stolen driving licence contact the DVLA.