Can you use your credit card abroad? Yes, you can use your MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover in other countries. You may be able to use your store cards also, if the stores exist there. That’s it. End of article. Wait, you want more? How about four things to think about when using your card in foreign lands:
Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are readily accepted in most places, in most countries outside of the United States. Just look for the logo on the door or near the cash register, or simply ask. Discover card is also being accepted in more and more places. Your Discover will be accepted anywhere you see the Discover logo, or one of these Discover partners: China Union Pay, JCB, or Diners Club International. Just as in the United States, some businesses may charge less for transactions paid in cash, but this is relatively rare.
All of the major credit card companies will automatically perform a currency exchange when you use them in a foreign country. In fact, this is one of the best reasons to use credit cards when traveling abroad – you don’t need to worry about changing over all your money to the local currency or worry about what rate you are getting where. When you pay with your credit card the bank will automatically calculate the rate to turn your money from local currency to U.S. dollars at, or near, the standard federally set rate.
To be fair, sometimes you can get a better exchange rate at certain locations, such as casino’s or tourist resorts. But usually the credit card exchange rate is very similar and it certainly is more convenient than running around looking at who might give you two more penny’s on the dollar.
When using your credit card abroad fees can be an issue; some credit cards charge what is called a Foreign Transaction Fee. These are credit card abroad charges every time you use that card in another country. If you travel much this is definitely a charge that you want to watch out for. If your card has high foreign transactions fees then cash may be preferable. The good news is that most credit card companies are doing away with these foreign transaction fees as the world becomes more global and shopping across boarders (both in person and online) is more common.
As we just noted, spending money in other countries does not necessitate flying there. You might want to shop online at a company located in another country. All of these same issues apply in that case. You want a card with good currency exchange rates, no foreign transaction fees, good acceptance, and of course, good security features.
Using credit cards protects you whether shopping online or while traveling. You can have your card replaced if it is lost or stolen, you can have charges removed if you confirm that they are not legitimate. You may even find that, like some American Express elite cards, you have access to services to help you if you are lost, injured or fall ill in a foreign country.
Choosing the right card for foreign travel can give you peace of mind. Look at APR, but also look at FTFs, acceptance level, security features, travel services and more. And one more quick bit of advice: before you travel take a look at your cards. If your credit card expires while abroad you could have some trouble. Call your credit card company and request an updated card before you leave.
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