4 smart ways to split bills with friends while traveling abroad

On their vacation to Italy last year, Angela and a friend from London had to find a convenient way to split the costs of their vacation.

« We looked in PayPal, and it would have cost us a fee. And Venmo didn’t work, » says Feher, director of communications at TripIt, a San Francisco-based travel planning app.

Despite the increase in the number of peer-to-peer apps to send money online for free and easily, many options are unavailable or have restrictions for use outside the United States, including Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App Square. You’ll need different cost-effective strategies, app or otherwise, to split meals and other expenses while traveling internationally with one or more friends.

First, have the right cards and cash
Before you go, consider payment options that won’t charge you for international use, and check to see if your fellow travelers have them too:

Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards charge a fee, usually around 3% of the purchase amount, for transactions made in other countries and made online with foreign merchants. See if you have or can get a card that lets you pay for purchases abroad free of charge.

Debit cards without ATM fees abroad. Since most US banks do not have ATMs overseas, it is common to have to pay fees to obtain funds overseas. But some online banks have debit cards that don’t charge foreign ATM or transaction fees, and even refund you if an ATM operator charges a fee.

Also read: Save time and money with travel agencies

1. Jump from person to person to find out who is paying

The exchange may be easier. It was Feher who was most successful. She paid for the duo’s train tickets from Venice to Florence, for example, while her friend paid for a pasta-making class.

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This strategy can also be applied to large groups. Zarak Khan celebrated his 30th birthday with 13 friends in Barcelona for a week and they took turns paying for meals, museum tickets and other things. A friend tracked all the expenses and found that at the end of the week only one had to pay $14 more to balance everything out.

With this strategy, « you give up a little on precision, but you gain a lot in overall happiness, » says Khan, director of behavioral innovation at Maritz, a company near St. Louis that designs and manages incentive programs. , loyalty and travel based on behavioral science.

2. Use an app to track, another to pay later

Take a look at the expense tracker for groups. Instead of keeping receipts or using spreadsheets, free and highly rated apps like Splitwise and Splid allow you to categorize IOUs by group and person. You can split the expenses equally or customize the split, for example in the case of a group of six people where one person pays 75% and another 25% for the group’s city tour. If you want to feel in control of your travel budget, an app that documents who needs who can be reassuring.

Refund when you return. When you return, you can use Venmo, cash, or another form of payment to pay everyone off. This allows you to avoid currency conversion fees.

3. Send money with an international transfer app

You might want another app to set up with friends who live abroad. Some apps like TransferWise and OFX send money online between currencies without the high costs that banks charge for international transfers.

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4. Use an app’s split feature if available

Some apps allow multiple people to pay. Both Airbnb and Uber offer this split feature, which can eliminate the question of who pays for certain accommodations or rides. Although it’s not an option for all expenses, it is convenient and worth a look.

Regardless of how you and your friends cover the costs, having a plan can make traveling with a partner or group much less stressful.

Also Read: How to Bypass ATM Fees When Traveling in the US?

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