Travelling overseas means that you are assuming not only the responsibility of travelling for yourself, but also for those you are travelling with, and doing what you can to ensure that everyone has a safe and fun-filled trip. This is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and one of the things you can do to make sure that everything runs as smooth as clockwork is to get your credit card in order before you leave home. You should also make sure that you use it wisely whilst you are away. Follow our tips to using your credit card wisely overseas.
1. Prep your card
Take a look at the expiry date on your card and make sure that it will not expire while you're away so that you can actually use your card while you are gone. If it expires while you're in another country you can run into some difficulty getting a new one. You should also make sure that you have activated your PIN number because most countries in Europe (and many other countries) require that the PIN be typed in every time you buy something.
2. Make sure that you can use the card
There are certain countries that may not accept your credit card. It only takes a minute or two to check on the Internet to find out whether the country you are travelling to will accept Visa and MasterCard. Most countries do, but you do not want to get stuck if you end up in one of the few countries that will not take your card. You should also ensure that you have enough money left on the card. Get an up-to-date transaction report on your card before you leave to make sure that you have a good credit limit left on the credit card.
You should also let your bank know that you are leaving on a trip and let them know where you are going and for how long. You do not want to get your card cancelled suddenly by a credit card monitor that thinks that your card has been stolen and taken to another country.
3. Using the credit card in another country
Keeping your card safe is a necessary part of your trip. If you're going to be visiting areas that are at all questionable from a safety and/or security perspective, keep your card back at the hotel. Flashing a lot of cash and a credit card around unnecessarily is not a good idea when you are in a foreign land. Only take as much cash as you need when you are on an outing. This will help keep you safe and will deter thieves from choosing you as a target. Money belts worn around the waist and hidden under clothing are a great way to carry your credit card and cash safely and securely.
Only use the card in well-known stores and try to avoid letting the card out of your sight for any reason. If the waiter wants to take your card after a meal, see if you can follow him up to the cash register to make sure that it is not copied. Use common sense as your guide when you are shopping and if you feel uncomfortable about a store in any way, use cash instead of your credit card to make a purchase.
4. Avoid cash withdrawals
You should have your trip planned well so that cash withdrawals can be avoided when you are abroad. You will have to pay charges and fees for using an overseas ATM and will also be charged for foreign currency exchange, not to mention for the withdrawal itself. These charges can be very high and cash advances on your credit card should only be used on a trip overseas in the case of an emergency.
5. Don't let family members use your card
One of the fastest ways to lose a credit card is by allowing others to use it freely. If a purchase is going to be made using the card you should be the one making it. Some parents tend to allow other co-users to use their card but this should be discouraged especially when you are on holiday.
If you have more than one credit card then you should make sure that only one or two cards are taken on the trip. The second card should only be taken as an emergency card in case the first one is lost or stolen. It should we tucked away in a safe spot in case it is needed. Taking funds in another form (such as travellers cheques and/or pre-paid money cards), as well as having access to cash (via your ATM card), is a good option when travelling.
When looking back in life it is always the holidays and special trips that come to memory first. Make sure you take the time to get your credit card organized before leaving for any kind of trip so that you can plant a happy memory in your mind. If finances are well-planned before heading overseas it will be one less thing to worry about, which will free up your time and energy to have a wonderful holiday.
About the author: Timothy Ng writes for Finder.com.au. He specializes in providing Australians with educational credit card information to help them make a more informed decision when choosing a credit card.