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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Credit cards can be a fantastic tool for travelers.

In addition to being a substitute for cash, they can also offer fraud protection in the event of theft or lost cards. When used internationally, purchases are made at the exchange rate at the moment of purchase, which is often at a better rate than offered at a currency exchange bureau.

To make the most of your plastic when leaving home, follow these tips:

Review the basics. Double-check the credit card's daily spending limit. You likely will spend more while traveling than you do during your day-to-day life. Make sure you have enough credit to cover the bill. Does the card's expiration date happen to fall during your trip? Ask the issuer to send a replacement before your departure.

Alert your credit card company about your plans. As part of their fraud protection plan, your credit card company may freeze your account if it's used far away from your home zip code. Avoid this hassle by calling the company and informing them of your travel itinerary. For international travel, note the in-country customer service phone number for your destination. The 800 number on the back of your card will likely not work outside of your home country.

Inquire about discounts. While you're on the phone, ask the issuer about discounts and rewards for purchases made at hotels, airlines, rental cars, and tourist attractions. Also, ask about travel and car rental insurance.

Research transaction fees. Every credit card has its own policy regarding cash advances and transaction fees for purchases made outside the home country, and ATM cash advance charges. Call your credit card issuers, inquire about their policies, and use the card on your trip that makes the most sense.

Protect your information. Store card numbers, expiration dates, security codes and in-country customer service numbers in a password-protected location, such as in a Google Doc or Dropbox file.

Have a backup. When on the road, carry a second credit card from a different account in a different location for extra protection in the event of theft. For example, carry your main card on your person in a wallet or purse, and a second stored in a secret compartment of a suitcase left in the hotel room.

Save your receipts. Just like in your everyday life, maintain paper copies of all your purchases and compare them to your credit card statement upon returning home, noting currency exchange rates for the dates of transactions.

Travel with cash. It is always good practice to travel with several hundred dollars in U.S. dollars and local currency in the event of emergencies or a venue does not accept your card.

 

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