5 Tips for Using Credit Cards Abroad

Oct 28, 2019 Credit & Debt

Save yourself the extra worries and use these tips when traveling with a credit card.

Someone being handed a receipt after purchasing a half dozen eggs.

Traveling is fun, but it can also be stressful. Ever thought about how you’ll pay for things in a different country? Traveling with a credit card is a more secure way to have funds without the worry of losing your cash or having it stolen.

Educate yourself on using credit cards abroad to make your life a little bit easier.

Notify your credit card provider

Let your credit card companies know to put a travel note on your cards to prevent any blocking that could potentially happen from a foreign transaction. Remember to do this for all the cards you choose to bring with you. Having a backup card, even two, can save you time in dealing with getting a replacement or being out of luck in a dire situation.

Review foreign transaction fee policies

Take a look at the fine print to see if your card has a fee that is charged when used outside the U.S. These fees may seem small at first if you don’t think you’ll be using your card much, but they’ll add up pretty quickly. A lot of cards nowadays don’t charge for foreign transactions, but it’s always a good idea to double check.

Watch out for the conversion rate

Be aware of the currency conversion. Some merchants will allow you to choose whether you want to pay in U.S. dollars or their currency. Many travelers think it’s better to pay in U.S. dollars to avoid transaction fees, but the conversion rate may be more. Using local currency may be a smarter bet as the dynamic currency conversion can rack up both the foreign transaction fee and the currency exchange fee. Do your research ahead of time to decide what’s best for you.

Review your credit card details for travel perks

Some cards offer travel benefits, like redeeming points for airline miles. Some cards even offer added insurance on flights purchased with that card. For example, if you need to cancel or change a flight, have lost luggage, or need a hotel, the insurance will help you cover the costs.

Budget for your trip by looking at past spending

Look at how the conversion rate has worked in your prior trips, or, if this is your first time using your card abroad, take note of the rates and budget accordingly. While vacation and trips may feel like a chance to spend whatever you want, it’s important to keep track of how much you budgeted for your trip, what your current spending is, and how you will make your money last. You don’t want to get back home and have set yourself back financially.

Next time you’re thinking of getting a new credit card, consider getting one with specific travel perks to take advantage of in your quest to explore the world.

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