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Traveling With Credit Cards: What You Need To Know
As you make travel plans this summer, be sure to pack the plastic. Credit cards are a convenient tool to finance your trip. To make the most of them, it’s best to keep a few factors in mind. Here’s what you need to know before you go. Plan Ahead As you prepare for the trip, take a look at the credit cards you have. If you plan to travel abroad, consider carrying cards that are widely accepted, such as Visa or MasterCard.
Taking along two credit cards is wise; this way, if one of the cards is not accepted, you have a backup. Most credit card companies and issuers charge fees for international purchases. This expense, which covers the fees incurred for currency conversion, is usually 2-3% of the purchase amount. To find out how much you will be charged, call your credit card company and ask before you leave. In most cases, the fees you will have to pay will be less than what you would spend exchanging dollars or cashing in traveler’s checks.
This is because when you use a credit card, you usually receive the best exchange rate available. A common problem for those traveling abroad involves purchases being blocked. This occurs because the international activity sets off a fraud alarm. For your safety, the credit card company does not allow the transaction. To avoid this potential dilemma, inform the company of your travel plans before you leave. They can make a note on your account that allows foreign transactions to go through. Finally, before you travel, send an email to yourself. Include the toll-free number for customer service at the credit card company. This way, if the card gets lost or stolen, you can access your email and call the company immediately to stop any account activity. Be a Smart Traveler Even after proper planning, you will still want to be careful when traveling with credit cards.
Make sure all purchase transactions are done in your presence. Most restaurants and hotels will process the card in a public place in order to avoid fraudulent activity. Pay with cash if you have any doubts. If the credit card transaction does not go through, call the company right away. Occasionally, a purchase will be blocked for security reasons, even after informing the company of your trip. If you speak with a representative, the hold can be released on the card. This can be done within a few minutes, allowing you to make the purchase. Should your card get lost or stolen, report it immediately. You will only be responsible for up to $50 in unauthorized purchases. In some cases, you won’t have to pay anything.
If you need to, you can use the credit card for cash advances. But remember that fees for these transactions can add up fast. If you will be unable to pay off the advance quickly, you may want to look into a different plan. By preparing properly and taking safety precautions, you can travel easily with a credit card. They are more convenient than traveler’s checks. And they offer you more protection than cash, which disappears if it gets stolen. By using a credit card, you can enjoy the many benefits of carrying plastic on your trip.
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