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10 Brilliant Credit Card and Money Tips for Traveling Abroad

You need to know the rules about your credit card when traveling to another country. Learn these 10 brilliant tips for using a credit card internationally.

Do you want to travel abroad and explore the world? More Americans are traveling to other countries with a record 80 million traveling abroad in 2016. Don’t be overwhelmed with how to exchange money and how you will pay for your purchases – your credit card will help you take advantage of the best conversion rates.

You need to know the rules about your credit card when traveling to another country. Learn these 10 brilliant tips for using a credit card internationally.

1. Let the Bank Know You are Traveling

First and foremost, let the bank know you plan to travel to another country. This is a huge red flag, and the bank may freeze your account if they don’t know you are abroad.

The last thing you want to do on vacation is to call the bank to get your cards reactivated. You can easily prevent this from happening by making a quick phone call. There are other things you may want to ask your credit card company as well such as how to get a new card if you lose your card.

2. Choose a Widely Accepted Card 

Not all credit cards are accepted internationally. Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover.

3. Check If Your Card Has a Foreign Transaction Fee

Some cards charge a fee for every foreign transaction. Those fees can add up rather quickly, even if it is only a 3 percent fee. Check your card to see if there are charges for foreign transaction fees.

4. Keep a Copy of Your Card Information with You

If you lose your cards or they are stolen, it is so handy to have copies of your card account number and phone numbers. This will let you quickly call the bank and have them freeze the account.

Make sure you put this information in a secure location and not near your cards. Take a photo with your smartphone. Leave a copy of these phone numbers in your hotel room’s safe.

Call your bank ahead of time to make sure you have an 800-number that will work internationally to call for issues. You can also ask the bank the best way to get a new card sent if yours is lost or stolen while traveling.

You may be able to get a new card expedited in a few days to you. Of course, this will cost you a fee, but that way you still have some way to make purchases.

5. Take Cash and Your Debit Card

You do not want to use your debit card except to get emergency cash. There are several foreign transaction fees. Use your credit card for purchases.

You do want to have some cash on hand. You will need some smaller bills for tipping. Some street vendors do not accept credit cards.

Keep some cash stashed away in your hotel room in case your wallet gets stolen. You don’t want to be in a foreign country without any way to pay for transportation, food, etc.

6. Opt for Foreign Currency

If a merchant offers to charge your purchase in your home currency, there is still a foreign transaction fee even though it may seem like there shouldn’t be. It’s best to get charged the foreign currency to get the better conversion rate.

You may get double charged because the merchant will most likely charge you a fee. Your credit card will also charge you for a foreign transaction.

7. Know How to Use Chip-N-Pin Cards

Most credit cards now have chips. In the U.S., you may just verify with a signature. Outside of the U.S., it is more common to also enter a code for verification. You can still use these cards, but you just need to figure out if a code is required for foreign transactions.

This is another reason you should contact your credit card issuer before traveling. You need to make sure you have a code (and know what it is).

8. Research Your Card’s Travel Protection

Some cards designed for travel offer travel protection. This may include protections such as lost luggage, accident insurance, trip cancellation, and more. If your card does not have travel protection, you should look into options while preparing for your trip.

9. Bring a Back-Up Card

It doesn’t hurt to bring a back-up card in case of emergencies. If you are traveling with someone else, split up the cards, so each person has one. You will be thankful to have another card just in case your other card is declined for any reason.

10. Take a Money Belt

How will you be carrying your cards and cash? If you are in crowded tourist areas, are you comfortable using a purse or wallet in your back pocket?

You may want to consider a money belt for extra protection. Credit cards are safer than cash, but you still need to protect them. Money belts may not be stylish, but they can help keep your belongings safe.

Plan on Using a Credit Card Internationally?

It’s important to have fun on your trip, so plan your purchases and credit card usage ahead of time. Make sure you have some back-up cash and do your research on which card is best to take with you.

If you need a credit card and you don’t have much credit or bad credit, you do have options to have fun on your trip. Check out the First Premier Credit Card.

Even though you are on vacation, you should still check your accounts to check for any odd purchases. Your credit card accounts never go on vacation, so you don’t want to miss something.

Keep your credit cards safe like you would any other time. Try putting your wallet in your front pocket or avoid purses that are easy to snatch. Also be aware of skimmer devices when swiping your card.

Want More Travel Advice?

Know that you know about using a credit card internationally, check out other great travel advice on our site and blog. You can find insightful articles like how to save money on food. Check back regularly for advice from a regular traveler to help you have the best trip possible.

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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