October 2, 2014

Tips for Using Credit Cards Abroad

Using credit cards abroad to balance the risk of carrying cash is a popular strategy. It isn’t an issue-free solution however, so having a few travel tricks up your sleeve is a good idea. Consider these spending tips for international credit card use during your next vacation.

Location: If you haven’t used an American credit card in Europe for a while, you may be surprised at your mixed success when it comes to shopping and making incidental purchases. Because of the chip requirement there for credit cards, travelers can have difficulty using North American credit cards at places like bus stops or unattended gas stations. Creditcards.com‘s director of marketing and research Ben Woolsey recommends working around this logistical challenge by supplementing your travel expenditures with the prepaid chip and pin cards available from Travelex. While you can still use your preferred credit card at establishments with swipe machines, these cards will help you with additional hiccups you may experience in the field.

Security: Prepaid credit cards are helpful for more than navigating the European chip requirements, according to Bombasticlife.com‘s Andrew J. Satkowiak, a Canadian travel writer living in Kuwait. After having his credit card number stolen during an international trip when he was in between hotels, he decided to rethink his credit card travel strategy. Now, he uses a prepaid credit card with a smaller amount of cash that he can replenish from the road if necessary. Wise Bread blogger and credit card travel expert Jason Steele on the other hand, prefers carrying multiple credit cards and keeping them in different locations. For example, while Steele carries one card on him, his wife also carries a separate card. They have also been known to leave a third card secured at the hotel.

Perks: Research benefits available with your current credit card prior to departure to make sure you are receiving the best bang for your buck. Discover card holders for instance, are eligible to earn cash back bonuses of between five and 20 percent when shopping through the company’s online shopping portal for products with travel companies like Royal Caribbean and Travelocity. Other perks available through Discover include the redemption of member points with partners such as Princess Cruises, assistance with the tracking of lost luggage, and coordination with international consulates for visa paperwork.


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