Travel credit cards are considered a safety net for those going abroad. Not everyone is keen on bringing loads of cash and traveler’s checks are not as convenient compared to a credit card. More importantly, a credit card can be a lifesaver when it comes to emergencies. What if you missed your flight and you need to buy tickets? What if you got stranded and you need to extend your stay and book for accommodations?
Before you get on that plane, you should take a closer look at your credit cards and know for sure if they can be useful given the following considerations you will need while traveling.
- Will you have to pay foreign transaction fees?
The purchases you make using your card will be more expensive abroad because of foreign transaction fee. Most credit cards charge around 1% to 3% of the purchase price. The 1% goes to your credit card network (such as MasterCard or Visa) and the rest goes to your issuing bank. It may not sound much, but if you keep swiping all throughout the trip, the costs will add up.
So, if you have multiple credit cards, better use the one that doesn’t charge high foreign transaction fees.
- Is the card widely accepted worldwide?
Although MasterCard and Visa are widely used by travelers and accepted almost everywhere, you still have to take note of foreign merchants that do not accept a particular network. Some stores in the U.S. do not accept MasterCard. In other countries, not all merchants accept American Express.
If you have cards for each major network, consider bringing all of them so you will have a card for all types of merchants.
- Does my card have international partnerships?
If you will be traveling for quite a long time, sooner or later you will have to use the ATM. Normally, fees are much higher for ATM transactions abroad, but if your bank has partners in your area, you may not have to shell out much for fees.
Before you leave for your trip, get in touch with your local bank and ask for international partnerships in your intended location.
- Will I get assistance in case of emergencies?
Unfortunate circumstances can happen during one’s travels. You may lose your credit card. You may get into accidents. Your rental car may get stolen. You need a card that can help you in case these happen. Check your credit card for travel accident insurance, car rental loss or damage protection, purchase protection, and referrals to medical facilities.
You need a phone number that you can call in case of such emergencies. You can find that number at the back of your credit card but it’s best to copy the number and store it somewhere just in case you lose your card. You should be able to make a collect call from the country of your location.
- How about fraud protection?
Banks are wary when it comes to card being used in an unusual location, especially when online hacking has become rampant. If the bank notices that your card is being used somewhere very different from your usual usage, they may put your card on hold or suspend your account.
The last thing the cardholders need when using their credit card abroad is finding out that their account has been suspended or put on hold. Avoid problems by calling your bank before your trip and inform them beforehand of your travel plans. Indicate the countries you will be visiting, including the stopovers.