Imagine being on an overseas vacation and having your credit card declined everywhere you go. Or, coming back to find massive fees from international transactions. These scenarios, and others associated with credit cards and travel, are not uncommon, but they can be avoided (or at least expected) with a few simple steps.
When it comes to travel and credit cards, here are a few things you need to do before you leave.
This goes without saying, but don’t assume your credit card is going to be accepted everywhere you travel. Play it safe by checking online or calling your credit card company to make sure your card will be accepted in the country you’re traveling to.
Make sure you know your credit card's limits and expiration dates. Going over your limit can result in major overage fees, so track your expenses carefully. Make sure your card's date will be valid for the duration of your trip as well; if your card expires when you're traveling, it can be very expensive to have one overnighted to your vacation destination.
Even if you're traveling within your country, call your credit card issuer and inform them of your travels. Most credit cards have security measures that freeze your account if charges suddenly begin popping up in different countries or zip codes. A quick phone call to inform them of your plans will help ensure your purchases are accepted.
If you're traveling abroad, be aware that most credit cards charge some type of foreign transaction fee. If you use your credit card for every little purchase, this can really start to add up. It's a good idea to carry a small amount of cash on you as well as your credit card.
Don’t rely solely on one card to cover the costs of your entire trip. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, whether it’s a different credit card, traveler’s checks, or cash. Store your alternate form of payment in a safe deposit box in your hotel room. This way, if your wallet or purse gets lost or stolen, you don’t have to deal with the stress of losing all forms of payment.
If you vacation frequently, you might want to take advantage of credit card rewards designed specifically for travel. With this type of reward card, you can score discounts on hotels, rental cars, and even earn free travel. There are many different credit card offers specifically for people who travel often, so make sure you compare each one and pay special attention to expiration of points or additional fees before you start to apply for credit cards.
If you’re headed on vacation—whether at home or abroad—taking these simple steps can help ensure your trip goes smoothly.