Money Matters

  • Check with your bank to see if you can use your ATM card in your destination country.
  • Use traveler's checks or debit cards instead of carrying large amounts of cash. (Traveler’s checks are pre-paid checks issued by financial institutions such as American Express, VISA, Thomas Cooke, etc., and can be used like cash in many countries, or easily cashed in at a bank or currency exchange office.) They can be replaced if lost or stolen (but be sure to keep a list of serial numbers separate from the wallet of checks or debit card so that you can file your claim). You can change your dollars into foreign currency and purchase traveler's checks at the same time by purchasing checks in a foreign currency while still in the US. However, watch exchange rates, as it may be advantageous to exchange currency abroad.
  • National banks, American Express offices, airports, railway stations, large hotels, and travel agencies all exchange currency abroad. Usually a large bank will offer the best rate of exchange with the lowest service charge. Remember to have your passport with you when exchanging currency.
  • International credit cards (such as VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, etc.) are also useful and may be especially important in the event of an emergency. Be sure to let your credit card company know that you will be abroad, and where, as any unusual activity may be identified as potentially fraudulent and result in the suspension of your account.
  • Depending on where you are studying, it may be difficult or impossible to cash personal checks and bank checks sent from the US. Consult with your program sponsor, host university, supervisor, or local bank officials about the best way to have money sent to you. Be aware that while it is possible to wire money abroad (through agencies like Western Union, for example), it can be three to five days, or longer, before the funds are actually released to you.
  • Scholarships and other awards given by Mount Holyoke for study, research, or internships abroad may be taxable, depending on your citizenship or residence status in the US:
    • If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, the College is required to report to the IRS the amount of any scholarship or other award given to you. Any portion of your award spent on expenses defined by the IRS as essential (books, tuition, fees, equipment, supplies) is not taxable; any portion spent on expenses considered non-essential to a course (room and board, travel), is taxable. Either way, you must include any such awards when you file your tax return.
    • If you are an international student on a non-immigrant visa (for example, F-1), any awards given solely for activities abroad (outside the US) are not taxable, do not have to be reported by the College to the IRS, and do not have to be listed on your income tax return.