More convenient than travelers’ checks and safer than carrying large wads of cash around, credit cards are the preferred method of payment by travellers in many parts of the world. Used to purchase rail tickets, fill up gas tanks and stock up on groceries, credit cards are an essential item for any one going abroad. However, using your credit card overseas can also be risky these tips show how you can avoid the pitfalls.
Call your credit card company before you go.
To prevent your card freezing on you while you are overseas, always call your credit company to inform them that you will be using your card while abroad. The automated fraud protection used by some credit card companies may automatically freeze your card after an unexpected foreign purchase. Replacing a credit card while you are abroad can be a hassle. You should also give your credit card company your email address and ask them not to call you while you are overseas to avoid costly international mobile phone fees.
Confirm your limits and expiration dates.
Is there anything more annoying than hitting your credit limit while on vacation or finding out that your card expires on Day 2 of a three week long holiday? Check your credit limits with your credit card company and ask for a reissue if the card you have is due to expire soon. Credit card companies can usually speed up the processing for a new card if it is a matter of importance – and if you ask nicely.
Bring more than one type of credit card.
It may be tempting to rely on just one credit card while you are abroad, but you should always pack more than one type of credit card with you while travelling. Choose widely accepted cards such as Mastercard or Visa; American Express and Diners are less popular overseas. If you lose a credit card while travelling, or if a shop does not accept a particular type of card, you will still have access to credit if you bring more than one type of card with you.
Get a card with both a chip and a magnetic strip.
American credit cards may be rejected in Europe and Asia, where most credit cards are issued with an imbedded chip and PIN technology instead of the simple magnetic stripe used in the United States. Magnetic stripe cards may not be accepted by automated ticket machines in Europe, and you may run into problems at vending machines or shops. Very few credit card companies in America issue cards with a chip, but you can get one from the few companies that do offer them, like the United Nations Federal Credit Union. Chip and PIN cards are far more secure than magnetic stripe cards, which are subject to credit card fraud and are easily cloned.
Keep an eye on your card.
Treat your plastic as you would your cash, especially in countries rife with credit card fraud. Credit cards can be cloned easily be unscrupulous vendors, so keep your card with you at all times. If you use it at a restaurant, go up to the till to pay and watch as the waiter swipe it. Don’t let your card out of your sight. It is not advisable to leave credit cards unattended in your hotel or luggage room. Keep it out of view as much as you can and be wary of pickpockets targeting your wallet or purse.
Hold on to your receipts.
Keep all your receipts from credit card purchases. You will need them to compare against your statement when you get home. There is a risk of double charges when you make hotel reservations or car bookings, where a deposit is required beforehand but is subsequently not reversed. It is best practice to keep all your receipts with you for your own records. Shred them and dispose of them safely after you arrive back home.
By following the above tips, you can be sure that your credit cards will be safe and you won’t have any major problems while traveling abroad.