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6 Critical Credit Card Tips for Travelers

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Credit cards can make traveling abroad a breeze. They can help you plan your itinerary and book all of your essentials before the trip starts. And once the trip starts, those cards can help you pay for every expense, from your restaurant lunches to your souvenir shopping sprees. 

Before you head out on vacation, you should read these critical credit card tips. They will make your travel experiences that much better. 

1. Bring the Right Cards in Your Wallet

Not all credit cards are treated equally outside of the United States. When you travel abroad, you might find that some of your credit cards aren’t accepted by businesses, from hotels to restaurants to retailers. You can avoid this frustrating scenario by carefully selecting the credit cards you’ll use for your trip. 

The most widely accepted cards are Visa and Mastercard. American Express and Discover cards are less popular, so you might not have as much luck using them. 

2. Let Your Credit Card Company Know about Your Trip

Whenever you’re planning on traveling abroad, you should let your credit card company know. This will stop the company from flagging any international transactions as suspicious and freezing the account until you contact them.

3. Use Your Card’s Insurance Plan

Does your credit card come with travel insurance? Then, you should consider using that instead of signing up for a private travel insurance plan. To access the coverage from your credit card, you will have to book the majority of your travel purchases with it — for some policies, you will have to purchase all of them with your card.

What situations are usually covered by travel insurance?

  • Flight cancelations
  • Flight delays
  • Lost baggage
  • Damaged baggage
  • Hotel/motel burglary
  • Medical emergencies
  • Car rental collision

Check to see what travel protections your card can offer you. It could come in handy during your trip.

4. Keep Your Balances Low

You should do your best to keep your credit card balances low before you travel. Why? This will help you handle emergency expenses that are outside of your travel budget — like having to pay for a temporary passport after losing it abroad or having to replace essential items after the airline loses your bags (source). If you don’t have enough cash to cover an emergency expense, you could always turn to your credit card as a solution—as long as the balance isn’t too high. 

If your credit card balance is too high, you might not be able to cover emergency expenses without worrying about how that will impact your upcoming bills. Or worse, you might worry about accidentally maxing out the card, making it unusable for the near future until you pay it down, says thebalancemoney. Maxing out your card can come with other consequences, like a raised interest rate or a lower consumer credit score. 

What if your credit card doesn’t have enough room? If you don’t have enough room on your credit card, you could turn to an alternative payment method in an emergency. You could go to a website like CreditFresh to see whether you’re eligible for a personal line of credit loan. If you’re eligible for the loan, you could fill out and submit an online application in a short amount of time — you could do it in five minutes! 

In the case that your application gets approved, you could have access to a line of credit in your time of need. You could request a withdrawal from this line of credit, which could then be deposited into your bank account. You could use those borrowed funds to cover your urgent expense as soon as possible. After the payment is made, you could direct your energy toward repaying your loan and replenishing your line of credit.

5. Write Down Information 

One common travel anxiety is that you could lose your wallet in the middle of the trip. Or worse, a pickpocket could snatch it from under your nose. If that stressful situation happens, you’ll likely lose access to the majority of your cash, your bank cards and your credit cards. You will also be vulnerable to financial fraud. 

This is why you should always leave a copy of your credit card information in your luggage. You should also have the contact numbers of your credit card companies. If your cards are lost or stolen, you can use this information to reach your creditors and block any fraudulent transactions. 

6. Separate Your Cards

The average American has between 3-4 credit cards. If you have more than one credit card, separate them during your travels. Keep one in your wallet and one in your hotel’s safe (or a similar secure location). If you do lose your wallet when you’re out on the town, you’ll still have a backup card that you can rely on. You won’t lose access to all of your funds. 

These credit card tips will make traveling an absolute breeze. You won’t have to worry about any emergencies destroying your vacation. You’ll be ready to recover and enjoy your time away from home. 

Last Updated: April 3, 2023

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