Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad

By Ashley Eneriz. Last updated 19 August 2016. 0 comments

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Traveling around the world can be an exciting time. However, if you are not careful with your credit card use, your trip can dig you into deep money trouble. Keep your money safe and your budget on track with these five credit card rules.

1. Only Use Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees

Using the wrong credit card for your international shopping could cost you a lot more than you think. Most cards will charge a one to three percent foreign transaction fee for each purchase made overseas. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can add up quickly. If you end up charging your hotel, all of your food, shopping, transportation, and events internationally, that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars in foreign transaction fees alone. Bring a card that has no foreign transaction fees.

2. Avoid ATM Machines

Do not use your credit card for cash withdrawals at ATM machines. It will be processed as a cash advance. Cash advances come with higher APRs, and interest starts accruing immediately. It's not wise to use cash advances at home, and it's definitely not wise to use them abroad.

The best way to get cash abroad is to sign up for a bank that provides ATM usage with no or low fees, or has a vast network of ATMs in the country you're traveling to. Keep in mind that while some banks offer zero fees for ATM usage, they may still charge you a foreign transaction fee for getting money in local currency. Capital One 360 Checking offers ATM usage with no fees and no foreign transaction fees.

3. Just Say "No" to Debit Cards

A credit card will be safer to use abroad than a debit card. It would be horrible to run your debit card at a small souvenir shop, only to have your bank funds drained from card theft. Even better, use a credit card with the new chip technology that reduces fraud and identity theft.

Often a hotel or car rental agency will put a hold on your card, so if you are using a debit card, it may take time for your cash to be available to you again. And if you ever run into problems with the funds release, you'll be stuck without access to your money. With a credit card, however, you can talk with your credit card company about removing the hold or helping you resolve the issue, without having to actually pay for it and wait for the funds to be returned.

4. Bring Multiple Credit Cards

Don't rely on just one card for your trip. Bring two or three cards altogether, allowing yourself a backup. It is a good idea to vary your cards, too. For example, don't make them all Visas. Try to have another card that is a MasterCard or American Express. If you run into an issue using one of them, you'll have another to fall back on.

5. Set Up Spending Alerts

No one wants to think about fraud and identity theft while they are on vacation, but it is a good idea to check over your purchases and make sure you have all of your cards and identification daily. Sign up for spending alerts so you get an email or text for each purchase. It may seem excessive, but you don't want to take any chances while you're traveling. Also, it's better to get these alerts than to log into your credit card account through public Wi-Fi. You can also call your credit card company to review recent charges.

Traveling abroad is an adventure, so don't ruin your trip with unwise money moves.

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