Travel Tip Thursday: Traveling With Debit and Credit Cards

Happy August fellow travelers! Can you believe how fast this year has gone? I can’t believe that even a month from now I’ll be in Paris for the first time! This blog will officially turn 1 year old next month as well. To be honest, I had no idea I’d even stick to blogging for an entire year. I’m really proud of myself and proud that I still have some content to write about.I thought long and hard about today’s post and thought I’d focus on traveling with a credit and or debit cards.

Pick A Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees

I made this mistake when I was in high school. I didn’t know that when I traveled outside of the US I would get hit with a 3 % foreign transaction fee every single time I used the card! It was a nightmare scenario. I ended up overspending my limit on the card and had to make a phone call to my parents to put money into my account in order to fix being overdrawn. Don’t let this happen to you!

If you are traveling with a debit card or credit card, call your bank ahead of time or verify on you bank’s website that they will not charge you extra for using it abroad. I have a separate travel debit card I always take with me now days. I found that having a specific account dedicated to travel has really helped me to save money to be able to afford to take trips. Charles Schwab is my bank of choice as they do not charge any ATM fees if I need cash.

Let Your Bank Know Before Traveling

Always ensure you take the time to let your credit or debit card bank know that you are going on vacation and the dates you intend to travel! You do not want the bank to flag any charges onto your card as fraudulent. It can be difficult to get a hold of your bank if you get abroad and find out that your card is being denied when you go to use it. I found out last year in Greece that I almost lost my hotel room because I had forgotten to call Chase ahead of time to warn them.

Carry Photocopies of the Card

If you credit card or debit card is lost or stolen you will want to ensure you know the correct number to contact to try and get your card replaced immediately! The great thing about credit cards is that you are not held liable for any fraudulent charges. This means if your card is stolen, you can dispute any charges you didn’t make to it. I always encourage you to have a photo copy of your card in your hotel room safe at the very least. A lot of credit card issuers will be able to overnight you a replacement card if you have any problems. It will save you a lot of time and effort if you have the affected account information ahead of time.

Pin and Chip Cards

The majority of credit and debit cards come with chip technology, but if you go to use the chip card abroad, merchants may not accept a signature with the use of the chip card. They may ask you to use your pin code instead. Every country except for the US has used what is known as chip and pin technology for years. You may have to specifically request a pin for your credit card ahead of time. Ensure you allow enough time before your tip, otherwise you can use your debit card.

Have A Backup Card Available

Some merchants will not honor certain types of cards like American Express. Visa tends to be the most universally accepted card type followed by Mastercard. Always have a back up option available. Merchants do not like to pay large fees when people use cards. Some stores may even only accept debit cards. If all else fails, there is always cash!

Cash is Still King

Like I just mentioned, always have a spare amount of cash available in case you have a problem. Some countries, like Japan prefer cash for all transactions and may even offer you a discount for using cash when shopping.

Exchange Rates

Credit and debit cards have good exchange rates when you shop in the local currency. Try not to have any stores do a currency exchange for you when they go to charge your card. If you need to exchange money or withdrawl money, I always go into a bank or look for an ATM they doesn’t look like it caters to tourists. The tourist area ATMs will offer the worst rates. I’ve had good success at Post Offices : )

Apple Pay and Digital Wallets

If you are going to a larger city I’ve begun to see more and more stores accepting Apple Pay or other digital wallet services. You will find contactless payment popular as well. Look for your card to have a series of half parentheses on the card to see if you have contactless payment capability. If you have it all you will have to do is ta your card against the reader to use it. I loved this feature on the London Underground when I needed to top up my Oyster card and didn’t feel like visiting the machine. I held my debit card in front of the exit and it charged my via contactless payment.

Carry An ID

My last tip today is to always have some sort of government issued ID available. You never know whe a store or merchant will ask to see it to verify it is your card you are using. I like to use my driver’s license. I don’t use my passport since it is more difficult to replace. I do carry around a photo copy of it just in case. My passport always get locked in my hotel safe when I arrive at my home base.

Wrapping Up

I hope some of these tip will help you prepare to travel abroad and use a credit or debit card. These are a few of the basic things I’ve learned during my trips across the world. Until next time, happy travels!