Credit Card Tips for Travelers

Credit Card Tips for Travelers

credit card advice

Alexandra Leslie
By: Alexandra Leslie
Posted: February 28, 2018
Our personal finance experts dish out the most trusted credit card advice on the web, including juicy tips, tricks and secrets from inside the credit card industry.

Whether you enjoy taking road trips close to home or jet setting around the world, it is important to know how to use your credit card to your advantage when traveling.

These credit card tips for travelers will help you enjoy your trip without having to worry about what is or is not in your wallet.

1. Avoid foreign transaction fees

When you are traveling within the United States, you can use your credit cards just like you would when at home.

However, when traveling abroad, some credit card issuers charge you a foreign transaction fee for every purchase made in a foreign currency. This fee is usually around 3 percent.

While it may not sound like much, think about how many day-to-day purchases you make while traveling — between meals, souvenirs, tours, shopping and transportation, this little fee adds up.

Not all credit cards have foreign transaction fees. If you plan to travel outside of the country, make sure you apply for a card without this fee to avoid wasting money on it.

2. Notify your credit card companies before you leave

Your credit card companies are always aware of your spending patterns and habits, and they have software that alerts them if there is any suspicious spending activity on your account.

If a purchase seems out of the ordinary, whether it is an unusually large purchase or originates from a location that is out of the norm for you, they will block the transaction just in case it is fraud.

These blocks are a godsend if your card numbers have been stolen and someone is trying to make a fraudulent transaction with your money. However, it can ruin a vacation if it is just you traveling. You lose access to your own money.

To prevent this from happening, call your credit card companies before you leave the country. Tell them where you are going and when, and they will set up notifications on your account.

This way, if their software flags your spending as unusual, they will not block your account.

3. Carry a Visa or MasterCard

Credit cards from these two issuers are accepted globally, making them ideal for international travelers. Not all corners of the world accept credit cards, but of those that do, nearly all accept Visa and MasterCard.

On the other hand, American Express and Discover have spottier global acceptance, so you may find yourself unable to use your card when you’re outside of the United States.

4. Bring cash and coins

While it is hard to find businesses in the United States that do not accept credit cards, they are not always as universally accepted elsewhere. Never be caught with only a credit card.

When traveling the world, always carry a small amount of back-up cash in case you find a business that does not accept cards. This is also smart in case there is an emergency when your card does not work, like if your card accidentally gets blocked.

You should also always carry several dollars worth of coins with you if traveling abroad. In some countries, especially those in Europe, some businesses require you to pay to use their toilets.

They usually only accept coins or small bills and change is rarely available.

5. Maximize travel rewards

If you travel frequently, you will benefit from using a travel credit card. Your everyday spending at home helps you earn points toward free travel.

Travel activities, such as flights or hotel stays, help you earn even more points. It is a beneficial cycle that can help you travel for free or at a discount.

Credit card issuers often offer great sign-up bonuses for their travel credit cards — sometimes enough for one round-trip domestic flight!

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, check out some credit cards with excellent gifts and rewards.

Photo Source: