5 Tips for Using Credit Cards While Traveling

Tips for Traveling with Credit CardsTips for Traveling with Credit CardsBy: Kristie Lorette

Personal vacations and business trips typically require you to have at least one credit card on hand. After all, traveling with too much cash can be dangerous if it is lost or stolen. Plus, hotels and rental car agencies require credit cards to make reservations.

Learning how to travel wisely with your credit cards can save you time, money and financial frustrations. This is the case for domestic and foreign travel, but may be even more important when traveling abroad because of currency exchange rates, foreign transaction fees and being far away from home - and your credit card issuers.

Review Fees and Interest Rates

When choosing the credit cards to use, first take a look at the interest rate and fees for each card. Ideally, you should choose the cards with the lowest interest rates and low or no fees, such as cash advance and foreign transaction fees (if traveling abroad). Again, it's best to choose the cards that offer the most favorable terms. If you travel frequently, you may want to look into credit cards that offer travel rewards, so you can capitalize on the many miles you log.

Finally, if your travels take you to a foreign country, find out about conversion fees. Most credit card companies charge currency conversion fees when you use your credit card in a country that doesn't widely accept the U.S. dollar.

Contact Your Credit Card Company

Before you travel, contact each of the companies that issue the credit cards you plan to use on your trip. Have the credit card representative make a note on your account of the dates and places of your travel. This does not have to be exact, but at least alerts the credit card company that your card usage across the country or around the globe is legitimate. Otherwise, your credit card may be denied when you try to purchase something, as your presence in a different geographic area than usual may send up red flags to your creditors that fraud may be afoot.

Only Take the Cards You Need

You may have a wallet full of credit and debit cards. If you do, avoid taking all of your cards with you on your trip. Pick and choose the cards you need and and leave the rest at home. This way, if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, you don't have to worry about all of your accounts being compromised.

Choose the "Local Currency" Option

When making purchases in foreign currencies, ask the clerk to process the credit card using the local currency option. If the clerk processes it using U.S. Dollars, then you may be charged a fee to convert the U.S. Dollars into their own currency. This is in addition to any foreign-currency transaction fees that your credit card issuer may charge you.

Make Copies of Cards

Before you leave on your trip, make a copy of the front and back of each of the credit cards you are taking with you. Pack the copies in a safe place in your suitcase, but keep it separate from your wallet or purse. If your cards are lost or stolen, you will have the card numbers and the issuer contact information to report the loss immediately.

Credit cards can be a great convenience when traveling, but if you're not careful, they can also be a headache. Look through your cards and find the one with the best terms for traveling, make sure to let your credit card company know when you travel, and pay attention to potential fees when traveling abroad. Happy travels!

To learn more about your credit cards and how they affect your overall financial status, visit Quizzle.com, where you'll get access to helpful tools and resources on all things credit. At Quizzle, you can learn how to pay off debt faster, improve your credit and use credit to save money on life's largest purchases.

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