The summer vacation season is upon us and with it comes not only the pleasures of world travel but also the risk of credit card theft and fraud.
Thus, here are several ways to keep your credit cards safe this summer.
While your family is planning the itinerary for your annual vacation, you should also know that thieves are planning to steal your credit cards. Peter Greenberg, author of
Tough Times, Great Travels: The Travel Detective’s Guide To Hidden Deals, Unadvertised Bargains, and Great Experiences,
says that “when it comes to protecting your plastic on vacation, a lot of it comes down to common sense.” Most of us know, of course, that common sense is not always so common, especially with the distraction of summer vacation so here are a few ways to ensure your credit cards are safe as you travel.
First of all, you might want to consider sharing your itinerary with your respective lending institutions. For example, if you live in Los Angeles but are planning to visit relatives in Naples, FL, your bank will know to expect some expenses there and they will not suspend your card for irregular activity. Similarly, as you travel, your bank will also know not to expect to see charges in New York City.
Secondly, make sure that you only bring the credit cards that you need. You need to know which cards will provide the rewards benefits, associated insurance and travel benefits, and credit limit you will need for your trip. Veteran travelers recommend, perhaps, at the very least:
- One debit or ATM cash card so you can have access to the cash you need while you are out; this is especially true if you are travelling overseas and will need to exchange your cash anyway
- At least one credit card with major global acceptance
- A backup credit card in the event of an emergency
- Try to carry cards from different banks in case there is some kind of electronic or physical issue with any particular lending institutions
Third, make sure that your cash advance credit card or debit card has a low cash withdrawal limit. This is especially true if you are planning to travel overseas. Danielle Fagre Arlowe, senior vice president with American Financial Services Association says “most debit cards will work at cash machines abroad.” Therefore if you keep the limit low a thief will only be able to extract so much cash if they steal your card.
Fourth, make sure that you keep emergency numbers in an easy to reach place. This includes your wallet and phone, yes, but also remember that if a purse or travel satchel is stolen, both of these may be gone too. Have emergency banking and other contact information someplace safe so that if something is stolen you have a way to report it.
Speaking of this, another good strategy for keeping your cards safe is to make sure that you do not carry all of your cards (and all of your money, for that matter) in one pocket, one purse, or one wallet. Consider a money belt or a purse that you can attach to another piece of clothing or can fasten snugly to your body.
Another way to keep your credit and debit cards safe as you travel is to simply keep your wits about you whenever using them. While you might not necessarily be overcautious while in your home town, local thieves are always looking for unsuspecting tourists to take advantage of. Similarly make sure that you always read your receipts to know what you are paying for and who is getting the money.