What You Need to Know About Your Credit Cards Before Traveling Abroad
There are few things more frustrating than discovering that you don’t have access to your funds while traveling abroad. Finding yourself without money in a foreign land, where few people speak English, can be annoying, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. As you spend time planning out your lodging, transportation, and activities, be sure to take a few minutes to ensure that your credit cards are as ready to go abroad as you are.
Take the following steps to financially prepare yourself for your trip abroad.
Credit Report, Bank and Credit Card Theft Monitoring
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Call Your Financial Institution Ahead of Time
To protect you and your credit rating, many financial institutions place holds on cards that appear to be stolen – even if you have not reported it. For example, if you live in California and your financial institution detects a purchase made in Singapore, they may block your card because they assume that someone has stolen your information.
Although this can save you many headaches if someone really has stolen your credit card information, it can create far more headaches if you are actually in Singapore and find yourself with a useless card.
The easiest way to prevent this misunderstanding is to call your credit card company ahead of time and tell them what dates you will be traveling and where you are planning to visit. This will keep you from being surprised when you attempt to pay for a meal – only to discover that your card is no longer active.
Be Aware of Exchange Rate Fees
Many credit cards will charge you an exchange rate fee for purchases made with a foreign currency. Although this is to be expected, make sure that you are aware of the rate that you will pay. Some cards do not charge any fees, while many others charge around 3%. Although this may not seem like much, it can add up fast.
Have a Backup Card in a Separate Location
By having a backup card, you are protected from a variety of accidents that may occur. If one of your cards gets cancelled, stolen, or lost, having another card will allow you to continue on, uninterrupted.
Furthermore, by placing the card in a separate location (i.e., not in your wallet), you are protected if your wallet is stolen or lost. Frantically trying to cancel one credit card is difficult enough. If you have two or three it will be even more of a headache.
Keep Financial Institution Phone Numbers in a Separate Place
In addition to another credit card, it is a good idea to write down the phone numbers to your credit card institutions and have that paper in a different suitcase or bag. This way, if your cards are stolen, you can immediately call in to have them cancelled.
Diversify Your Funds
Besides for a credit card, make sure that you have a debit card and cash as well. Many parts of the world are not as credit card friendly as the US is and it may be necessary to buy more items with cash. Therefore, by keeping cash on hand (and making sure that you have small bills), you will be able to make purchases wherever and whenever you need to.
Traveling abroad is a lot of fun. By planning ahead to ensure that your finances are ready for the trip, you can spend your vacation focusing on having fun instead of worry about your money.