It’s a simple fact, traveling is very expensive. No matter whether you’re traveling for business, taking a short break or a longer vacation, everything from accommodation to tickets to sporting events or concerts will cost you money. Most of the money you’ll account for will be given over to merchants and shops at whatever destination you’re visiting – which can often pose some questions, such as is it better to take a lot of cash with you, use traveller’s cheques or take your credit cards overseas with you?
It simply isn’t sensible or workable to travel without any cash at all, and you’d be foolish to not have a ready supply of bank notes for emergency use only, or for if you are visiting somewhere that will not take cards. However, for the most part, taking and using credit cards overseas makes much more economic sense. Firstly, it prevents you having to worry too much about currency conversion rates – with a card you’ll automatically get the lowest rate possible. Credit cards are easy to keep safe – whilst it’s not something we necessarily want to think about, pick pockets operate in every country and it is easier to conceal a card than it is money. In the event your card is stolen, you report it straight away, get the card cancelled and hopefully there will be very little harm done.
Before You Go On Holiday
Check your credit (and debit) cards). A lot of banks and financial institutions might charge you a few for using the card abroad. Typically, it might only be 2-3% of each purchase you make, but it can still work out very costly if you do a lot of shopping or make a lot of purchases while you’re in foreign climes. Therefore, it makes sense if you’re using credit cards overseas to look into getting a No Foreign Transaction Fee credit and/or debit card that will protect you from such penalties.
When you get your new card, or if you’re continuing to use your regular card, make sure that well before you travel you contact your card provider to let them know when and where you’re travelling to. This is a must for two reasons.
1.) You’re less likely to have your card suspended if your issuer suspects there have been suspicious transactions made on your card in a foreign country
2.) If you’re stranded or stuck and you need to contact your card provider while you’re away, it makes it easier to do so free of charge, and not to incur any extra costs.
When You Arrive At Your Destination
Make sure you try and avoid a sneaky trick called dynamic currency conversion, when using your credit cards overseas, which many merchants abroad try to take advantage of. You might be offered good and services which the merchant offers to convert to US dollars in price for you, seemingly to be helpful, however, they often do this at a higher and not particularly competitive exchange rate meaning you can end up paying more. Although it might seem like a hassle it is sometimes better to only pay for goods that are displayed in the local currency and refuse to sign any checks that are not expressed in such a way.
In the USA, technology in terms of credit and debit cards is still a little way behind Europe, where things like Chip and Pin are now the norm. This means that using credit cards overseas can be slightly more problematic as the USA still uses the less secure magnetic stripe system which is easier to commit fraud on. You’ll still be able to use your card in foreign countries, but some merchants will demand an extra form of identity if you’re paying for goods, so make sure you always have your passport to hand as further proof of who you are.
Be Safe and Savvy but Still Enjoy Your Trip
All of this might sound worrying, or designed to create stress in a situation that should be enjoyable, but so long as you’re safe and savvy and know what you’re doing there’s no reason it should cause any extra hassle or worry. As long as you take into account the hints and tips in this article, you really shouldn’t have any problems with using your credit cards overseas. Make sure you:
1.) Try and get hold of a No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card
2.) Notify your credit card company when you travel
3.) Avoid buying goods for which the costs aren’t expressed in the local currency
4.) Check your statements thoroughly on return
Then you’ll more than likely find that you encounter no problems at all and that it is relatively easy to make purchases in foreign countries whether you’re simply on vacation, taking a working trip or a short break to see a concert or sporting event.