Going on a trip abroad? Don’t forget to take your credit card with you. They’re secure, easier to carry around, and convenient to use since most establishments use them. Take note, however, that you can still run into some problems if you don’t use your credit card wisely. To help you on your trip, we’ve prepared guide in using your credit card overseas.
Inform your card provider before you leave
To avoid any future hassles when abroad, make sure you tell your card provider than you’re going overseas. Your provider needs to know when you used your credit card abroad. If not, your purchases might trigger the credit card’s anti-fraud protection, which would prevent your transaction from clearing. When this happens, you’d be vulnerable.
Bring more than one card
For your security, take more than one card with you, so that you have a backup in case your main card gets denied or lost, or goes over your credit limit. But don’t limit yourself to credit cards—take your debit card with you as well. If the ATM abroad prevents you from choosing between transaction and credit accounts for taking out cash, you might end up spending more because of fees and higher interest rates.
Beware of foreign transaction/currency conversion fees
When you use your card overseas and you decide to be charged in your country’s currency, you get charged with a currency conversion fee, which is 3 to 7 per cent of the transaction. But if you choose to be charged in the local currency, you get a foreign transaction fee, which is 2 to 3 per cent of the transaction. Our suggestion: look for a card provider that doesn’t impose foreign transaction fees, then choose to be charged in the local money to avoid currency conversion.
Get a PIN for your credit card
These days, more and more establishments—particularly in Europe—require “smart” credit cards that come with its own personal identification number (PIN) and security chip. Without a chip-and-PIN card, you won’t be able to make transactions, and this can happen in the most inconvenient of times (e.g. you ran out of local currency). Thus, you should talk to your card provider about getting a chip-and-PIN credit card before going abroad.
Set up automatic card payments
Your trip abroad may just be for a couple of days, but it’s a good idea to set up automatic card payments before you leave. This would ensure that you pay your credit card on time even if you encounter a delay on your trip.
Buy insurance using your credit card
If you’re using a prestige card, then you probably already have free overseas medical and travel insurance. However, if you don’t have insurance, make sure you spend for it using your card before you leave. Depending on your coverage, you can be protected from lost/stolen/damaged luggage, cancelled flights, medical concerns during your trip, and other similar concerns. Insurance will make your life easier if something goes wrong.
Avoid withdrawing cash with your card
If you can help it, don’t withdraw cash using your credit card. Aside from the cash advance fee, you’ll also be slapped with a high interest rate the moment you take the money. Furthermore, your expenses could turn out to be more expensive if the local money has a higher value than your country’s currency.
Never let your card out of your sight
The moment you lose sight of your credit card, dubious individuals can quickly get your card information and defraud you, which is why you should keep an eye on your card at all times. For instance, if you’re using your card in a restaurant, go to the cash register instead of handing it over to a waiter. Sometimes, even reputable establishments might have dodgy employees so you can never be too careful.
Memorise your card provider’s contact numbers
See to it that you know your card provider’s contact numbers by heart, especially when you go on a trip. You can save the numbers on your mobile phone or some address book, but if you lose this along with your credit card, then you have a problem. Committing the number to memory is the way to go.