Traveling abroad is one of the best experiences of life – it expands your horizons, gives you new perspectives, and it sometimes takes you out of your comfort zone. When travelling abroad for business, pleasure, or just because you got bored, you’ll need to hold a mix of cash and credit cards. However, many potentially great travelling experiences have been ruined because of issues arising from the use of (or inability to use) credit cards.
Before you pack up your bags and head out on a trip this holiday season, you might want to take a couple of minutes to learn how to have a stress-free experience with credit cards when travelling abroad.
Inform your card issuers about your travelling plans
You are an adult. You don’t owe anybody an explanation, you can don’t need anybody to babysit you, but when you are travelling abroad, it might be in your best interest to let your credit card company know your travel plans. If you just pack your bags and head out to an international destination without informing your card issuer, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when your cards are declined and you have to spend long hours trying to resolve the issue over the phone.
Technological advancements that make life easier have also birthed a host of security challenges. Credit card issuers now try to stay proactive in the fight against credit card fraud and identity theft, and they’ll rather err on the side of caution than let suspicious transactions continue on your card. Hence, if you normally use your card within 30 miles of Fifth Avenue in New York, the credit card issuer might decline or suspend your card if they suddenly see transactions coming in from Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
Take advantage of travel perks available on your card
Different credit cards offer different types of perks, but people who rarely travel might be ignorant of the travel perks available on their cards. It would be a shame if you pay for services that are complementary on your card because you didn’t know. Before you travel, you should call your credit card issuer to inquire about the travelling perks available on your card. Even if your card doesn’t have traveling benefits, you might get an offer to apply for a card that offers better traveling perks.
The best cards for traveling have reward programs such as concierge services, discounts on hotels, and car rentals. Some cards also offer complimentary breakfasts and late checkouts at partner hotels. Some travel cards also provide discounts on medical travel insurance or emergency evacuation insurance. In addition, inquiring about travel perks could also yield valuable information on some things you could do to qualify for travel perks on your current cards.
Be smart about “foreign” ATM fees
Credit cards are a great financial tool and we’ve all heard about the death of the wallet and how the world is moving to a cashless economy. However, cash still plays an important role in today’s economy. When you travel abroad, you might discover that some local cabs, restaurants, and stores don’t accept credit cards – and you’ll need to pay in cash. More so, the POS terminals available in some places are just not compatible with your cards – and again, you need cash.
When you suddenly find yourself in urgent need of cash in a foreign country, your best bet might be to make an ATM withdrawal. The problem, however, is that foreign ATMs or out-of-network ATMs might charge you fees on top of the Forex conversion spreads. Hence, before you head out on your trip, you should find out from your issuer if it has partner banks or ATM networks in your destination. You might be able to obtain information on ATMs with the lowest fees or partner banks that rebate the ATM fees.
However, if you are going to an out-of-the-way place where your credit card issuer doesn’t have partners, you might want to find ways to lock in currency conversion rates. You might also want to be strategic about making single, sizable withdrawals that could last you a couple of days instead of making many trips to the ATM every time you need cash.