Credit cards are an incredibly useful method of payment at home, and they can be even more valuable when traveling outside of the United States. Yet at the same time, cardholders need to select the best card for international travel and take some additional precautions before, during, and after their trip.
Bring the Right Credit Card
While most credit cards are equally accepted at home as they are abroad, certain cards will have an advantage when being used in foreign countries. For example, most credit cards will charge a 3% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States. A charge like this can add another $100 to $3,300 worth of dining, hotel, and car rental charges. Yet more and more cards are now being offered that do not have this unnecessary charge.
These products include the entire line of Capital One, Discover, and the PenFed credit union as well as several Chase cards, and the Platinum card from American Express. Next, consider that many unattended credit card reading machines in Europe require an EMV chip in order to approve a transaction. These machines are popular at public transportation facilities, gas stations, and even bicycle rental kiosks. Fortunately, there are several American card issuers that now offer compatible products. Even if a traveler does not have such a card, a preloaded debit card can be ordered that is compatible with this system.
Preparing for a trip
Before departing on a trip, cardholders should always inform their credit card issuers of their plans. They should include the dates of travel and all of the countries that they may visit. This will avoid any suspicion that the card is being used fraudulently. Next, record the international toll-free telephone numbers for each card issuer so that a new card can be ordered in the even one is lost or stolen.
During the trip
When traveling with multiple credit cards, try to keep one available and the other in a secure location. In this way, if one is lost or stolen, a backup is retained until a replacement can be sent. Also, try to monitor the online account of the card being used to check for fraudulent transactions. Unfortunately, these can occur when shopping at unscrupulous merchants.
By choosing the right card and taking steps to protect it, travelers can safely and conveniently use their credit cards on their next overseas trip.