This article is brought to you and contributed by George Wolfson.
Using a credit card is a convenient and reliable means of payment if you’d like to travel overseas. You can book hotel rooms, buy tickets, rent a car, and pay in restaurants and stores.
In addition, if you take a credit card on your journeys you do not need to worry about:
- Declaring cash at customs. There is no need to report the line of credit in your pocket when you travel with a credit card.
- Safer than carrying cash. If your cash is stolen and you don’t have another form of payment on you, you’ll be stuck with no access to money for the rest of your trip. Cash has no protections, while credit cards do provide liability protections.
- The safety of your funds. If the card is lost or stolen, it will be frozen when you report it. Liability measures provide much stronger protection for credit cards versus debit cards.
You need to pay attention to the best points credit cards for travelers if you want to select the most appropriate one.
Everything you need to know to get the maximum benefit from using a credit card
When traveling, remember that not all cards are accepted everywhere. Note that some European countries accept only “chip” cards, which provide the highest level of payment security. Make sure you know your accompanying PIN. Many American retailers only require a signature, so you might not be familiar. and that within Europe, some brands aren’t accepted at all. Such cards provide the highest level of payment security.
It’s also wise to carry an additional credit card in case you lose your main card, or in case it the issuer freezes it, mistakenly thinking your travels abroad are an indication of fraud. It’s convenient to carry cards of two payment systems (e.g. MasterCard Gold as the main, Visa Classic as additional). Moreover, Gold and Platinum class cards provide medical insurance for traveling abroad. Be sure to check your card’s policy before disembarking.
To avoid additional costs associated with currency conversion, it would be better for you to open an account in euros or US dollars depending on the region you are going to visit.
How to protect yourself from fraudulent transactions
To protect yourself from fraudulent transactions, take advantage of any SMS service your card issuer may provide. It will allow you to get all the information about the transactions associated with your account in real time.
If you become a victim of fraud, and realize it in real time, call your financial institution right away. If you don’t realize it until you read your statement, call them as soon as you are aware. You should follow up by writing a letter to your financial institution. You will be asked to specify the date of the suspicious transaction, the number in the system of payment as well as the code of the terminal. All this data can be found in your SMS or card statement. The financial institution will in turn consider all of this information, investigate, and determine the way of compensation.
There’s much more to learn about protection from credit card fraud. The FTC goes into greater detail here.
Other useful tips
Before going on a trip, check out this travel hacking guide. Find out whether the use of credit cards is widespread in your destination country. Countries like Finland are paradise for tourists in this regard. Even in a small town you can pay for a purchase using a credit card.
However, in some countries it is much more convenient to pay in cash. For example, it will be difficult to impossible to use a credit card in rural Egypt. In the Czech Republic, cards are accepted in large shopping malls and hotels. However, in small cafes and restaurants it would be better to pay in cash.