Travel expenses are easily handled through the convenience of using a credit card. Along with the convenience come some risks that every traveler should know ahead of time in order to mitigate the risks and enjoy the entire trip. Unexpected expenses can cause hardships, so every traveler must understand how to handle the credit card before, during, and after the trip.
Before You Apply
Instead of using an existing card for the next trip you take. Visit the websites of the major banks and determine which card provides the best value in the following categories. Most banks offer online applications and then issue the new card within 30 days.
- Best Travel Perks – Certain credit cards will offer discounts and air mileage bonuses for visiting certain gas stations, hotels, and restaurants. For automobile travel, the credit card will offer different advantages than for air travel. Look for a credit card program that offers the greatest perks for the region of the country where you will travel.
- Best Card for Destination – International trips are exciting because of the opportunity to learn about new cultures. Handling money conversion and different currencies can be challenging, and many travelers will choose to use a credit card while in the other country. Large banks have branches in other countries, and having their credit card for in the country can make use of the card much less expensive and more convenient.
- Best Card for Your Credit Score – Use a website like CreditScoreQuick.com or many others to get your credit score quick and in time for you to find the very best travel credit card before leaving on your trip.
Before You Travel
Once you have chosen the best credit card for the trip, take specific actions that will reduce risks and assist you if there are problems while you are away from home. Leave all unnecessary credit cards and personal identification cards at home under lock and key. Take a copy of the credit card that will accompany you on the trip and leave it somewhere in the house where a trusted person could find the information under your direction.
- Understand Daily Limits – Banks will set limits for dollar amounts and number of transactions on all credit accounts to prevent loss through fraudulent use. Prior to departure, investigate all of the limits that are set on the card that will be used during the trip.
- Contact Bank – Place a telephone call to the bank that has issued the card you will use on the trip. Tell them your plans and ask them if they can adjust any of the limits that are currently on the card. Ask for additional contact information that can assist you during the trip. If you forget to make these changes prior to departure, the foreign branch of the bank may refuse to relax the daily limits.
- Record Contact Information – In addition to recording the customer service phone number, make certain that you have a toll number in addition to the toll-free number. Toll-free 800 numbers are only reachable from inside the United States, so an in country customer service number would be helpful. Record this information and keep it in a secure place apart from the credit card to prevent loss.
During the Trip
Travelers have a tendency to be distracted when conducting financial transactions while traveling. Thieves count on relaxed attention to take cards and make a quick getaway.
- Keep Track of the Card – When using the card, never let it leave your sight. Other cultures have norms that are different from your own, and you can object to anyone walking away with your credit card. Never leave your credit card as security for anything. Hotel front desks may request to keep your passport, but do not leave your credit card with them.
- Cash Advance Not ATM – Even if you use a bank-owned ATM to acquire local currency, you will pay cash advance fees on your credit card. Unless you have a checking account with ATM privileges, be aware of the cash advance charges that will be assessed.
- Plan for Obstructions – Wherever your travels take you, carry some of the local currency because there are times when a credit card transaction is not possible. Be able to pay for current purchases with the cash in your pocket so you do not have to reveal the fact you have a credit card. Know the location of at least one bank branch in case you need to access your credit account.
- Track All Purchases – Keep a small diary of all transactions, including the date and time. Keep a copy of all receipts so that you can verify the credit card bill when it arrives.
After You Arrive Home
During the unpacking process, gather all of the receipts from every hotel, rental car, restaurant, and every other purchase. Place them in an envelope until the credit card bill arrives.
- Verify the Credit Card Bills – Look at every receipt and the date and time printed on the credit card bill. Refer to the expense diary you kept during the trip to check for duplicate charges and incorrect amounts. You may have to contact the bank to discern the actual currency conversion charges on each transaction.
- Discuss Fees with the Bank – Some fees will look incorrect on the statement and should be discussed with the bank. Most customer service personnel can provide information for the fees that were paid for certain transactions during your trip. Contest the exorbitant fees and ask the bank to remove them.
Choosing a Travel Credit Card
One of the most important aspects to any trip is the ability to control expenses. Credit cards offer great convenience, but most banks are counting on the unaware traveler to pay fees for every use of the credit card. Educated travelers can avoid most of the fees simply by consolidating purchases and using the credit card just a few times during the trip.
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