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Advice For Credit Card Use On Vacation

1 May 2012 by CreditCardsCo™

When you take your credit card with you on vacation it can be quite an apprehensive thing. Not only is there concern that they could be lost or stolen but you also have to worry about things like exchange rates.

Travelling overseas carries with it a lot of anxiety, but being far from home can be a little easier when you have a grasp of your finances. Here are 7 tips for bringing your credit card on a foreign vacation:

1) Contact Your Credit Card Company

While you certainly don't need a babysitter, it can be helpful to let your credit card company know that you are leaving the country. This way when the foreign charges you have been making start processing they won't issue a red flag and shut down your account. While it's not difficult to turn your account back on, the process is not always immediate, which puts a damper in your plans.

2) Understand Foreign Exchange Fees

One of the first things you will need to do when travelling abroad is look into whether or not your card charges foreign exchange fees. While it can be convenient for you to use your card wherever you go (because some cards will convert currency for you automatically) it can sometimes be surprising to get the bill later to find a lot of foreign exchange fees.

Understanding these ahead of times can help save you the surprise later. Similarly, read the fine print and look for foreign ATM cash withdrawal charges. If you want to avoid all of these then you might want to simply apply for a new card that doesn't charge for this and use only that card when you travel.

3) Use Only One Card

Speaking of using only one card that is often the best way to ensure you don't overspend or overextend yourself. Most credit card companies will allow you to order multiple cards for the same account, so it's a good idea to do this for you and your spouse. This is good because if you lose your card or it is stolen then you only have to worry about cancelling one card. If you want to bring an emergency card then you should keep it in the hotel room safe or another safe place.

4) Store Your Credit Card Account Number Somewhere Secure

Speaking of safe places, no matter how many cards you bring with you, you should keep all of the relevant information in a safe place in the event that they are lost or stolen. Backup cards are good but you should also have the credit card numbers (including expiration date and the access number on the back) in a safe place just in case you misplace the card and need to call customer service (keep that number in your phone too).

5) Get An In-country Phone Number

Speaking of phone numbers, you should be sure that your credit is available overseas. Otherwise ask them if they have an access number in whatever country you will be visiting. If you need to call them - for whatever reason - It can save you a lot of trouble (and you can call locally which saves you money).

6) Keep Your Receipts

This should be a given, but always keep your receipts. This is important so that you can track your vacation budget (which you should always determine before leaving). It also allows you to check for double billing, fraudulent billing, and other mistakes that occasionally occur when you travel. When you stay in a hotel, you might order room service or an in-room movie; make sure there's only one charge for it.

7) Carry Cash

Finally, you should always carry at least some cash just in case of an emergency. You never know when you might encounter a private store or a street vendor that only takes cash. Maybe you want to visit a public market or you prefer to tip certain people in cash. No matter the reason, it's important to have a little cash.


When planning a foreign vacation don't forget to take into account how you will spend your money. If you plan to use credit cards then you should look closely at the regulations and guidelines for foreign transactions and make sure your cars are safe no matter where you go.

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