Use your credit card while on vacation but educate yourself first. You work hard all year and you earned this vacation! Now, it’s time to go have fun, see the sights, build some memories and even take home some souvenirs to remember it all by. But, should you use cash or credit card on vacation? Well, before you pack your bags and head off to the airport here are six things to think about when using your credit card on vacation:
Credit card companies today work hard to protect you, and them, from fraudulent use of credit cards. One way they do this is to have their computer systems keep an eye out for unusual use. This means that if you live in one state and rarely travel to another state or country, then you take a trip and use your credit card while on vacation in another country, you might suddenly find that your card is shut off.
Yep, you can happily take a family vacation, pay for a trinket with your card and all is well. A couple hours later you go to charge lunch and wham – card declined. Often the card company will call you, text you or email you to let you know, but they don’t have to and even if they do you may not get the message if you are traveling.
Your best bet before using a credit card on vacation is that before you go out of state or out of the country you call your credit company to let them know where you are going and when. Then, they will put a note on your account to ensure that it is not shut off just for being used where you are traveling.
Traveling in other countries means using someone else’s money. It can be tough to figure out how many of those colorful bills to hand over or count out those unusual coins. You can avoid this by simply using a credit card. And most of the time the credit card company’s exchange rates are as good or better than the exchange rates at stores and other exchange locations.
Some credit cards do, however, charge fees for that currency convenience. Called “Foreign Transaction Fees”, or FTFs, they are a small amount or percentage added to every transaction you do abroad. Many cards today offer no FTFs, so if you travel often look for a card without FTFs. And be sure to check to see what FTF rate, if any, applies to the cards you plan to use on your next trip.
When you travel and use your credit card while on vacation you should always know where your credit card is. Do not leave it unattended in your hotel room, unless you put it in the safe. Try not to use it at places where they take your credit card away to scan it, like a full service restaurant. Check at least twice a day to ensure it is still in your possession. If your credit card is stolen on vacation call your bank immediately.
If you do find that your card goes missing then call your bank immediately. The faster you tell them you lost the card or had it stolen the easier it will be to stop fraudulent charges and the less trouble you will have. Most companies will even send a new card to your hotel immediately. One more tip – before you go on vacation take a picture of the front and back of everything in your wallet. That way, if you lose anything you have the account number and phone numbers handy.
When you are on vacation it’s easy to forget about things like checking your email and you don’t want to worry about finances. But if you really want to protect your financial life, check your credit card statement online every two or three days while on vacation to ensure that no one has gotten ahold of your card and is making any fraudulent charges.
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