If you’re planning a big trip, you’ll want to save for the initial expense but once you set out on that adventure, cash isn’t the way to go. Instead, credit cards are the ideal mode of spending for international travel. They offer added protection on purchases and they can earn you rewards on hotels and flights. In fact, it would be impossible to book a vacation without a credit card.
Still, once you’re in another country, you’ll want to choose your cards carefully and know what to expect. From chip readers to authorization issues, here’s what you need to know about using credit cards on an international vacation.
Check For Fees
One common issue that travelers encounter when they head abroad are unexpected foreign transaction fees. The majority of standard bank cards and about half of credit union cards apply foreign transaction fees that can put you way over your travel budget. Adding 2-3% onto every purchase will really add up when you’re eating out regularly and buying souvenirs.
Warn Your Company
We rely on your credit card companies to let us know if there might be a fraudulent transaction taking place, and understandably the sudden appearance of international transactions would be a warning sign to them. Unfortunately, if you’re out of the country, they might have a hard time getting hold of you to verify your charges.
To avoid trouble paying for things, call your company before you leave and let them know you’ll be traveling. Then your credit card company can turn off alerts on your account so that charges can go through while you’re away.
Mind The Conversions
You probably know your credit card limit, but do you know what your limit is in Euros or Yen? Probably not. In order to avoid going over your limit, consider downloading a conversion rate calculator (or just learn the conversion rate and do it yourself). This will help you stick to your budget and keep foreign currency from feeling like play money.
Depending on where you are, especially if you’re traveling to an area that sees heavy tourism, you may be able to pay for things in American dollars. You can always ask the clerk whether this is an option to simplify your money management.
Check Your Chips
Though almost every American credit card has a chip in it now – technically all businesses are required to use them – the chip has been the gold standard in Europe for years. If your chip card is damaged, don’t bother taking it to countries that rely on this system. It’s common to find that it’s neither legal nor even technologically possible to swipe your credit card in most European countries.
Your credit card is your best friend while traveling internationally, but it can be your worst enemy if you don’t prepare properly. Talk to your company, check their practices, and then get ready for fun! With careful planning, you’ll be off on the vacation of a lifetime with financial security.