How to Avoid Credit Card Problems When Traveling
If you're taking a vacation soon, you probably have a checklist of all the things you need to do before you go. Pack the bags: check. Stop the mail: check. Take steps to avoid a credit-card crisis: WHAT?
Credit problems can pop up during a vacation if you don't take the proper precautions beforehand. Ben Woolsey of CreditCards.com offers these tips on how to avoid problems while traveling:
Tell your card company about your travel plans. Your card company might suspect suspicious activity if charges made in another city other than your hometown show up on your account. This is especially true if the charges are made overseas. Woolsey says that your card could be shut down or flagged for fraud and rendered unusable if you don't call your card company before you travel. Be warned, though, notifying your card company of your travel plans doesn't always eliminate problems -- as my sister discovered when she traveled overseas a couple of years ago. So consider taking a back-up card from another issuer in case you can't use your primary card. You might also run into problems if you use your card in countries where merchants process only cards with microchip technology -- not magnetic strips. Travelex offers a Chip & PIN Cash Passport prepaid currency card that can help you avoid this problem.
Avoid hefty international transaction fees. Find out whether your card company charges foreign transaction fees, such as a currency-conversion fee, before you head overseas. Capital One cards do not charge these fees, nor do select cards from American Express, Chase and Citi. For more information, see Cut the Fees Overseas.
Guard against identity theft. Write down your account numbers and contact information for your card issuer before you travel and put it someplace safe (a discrete pocket in your luggage). If your card (or personal information) is stolen, you will be prepared. To lessen the chances of this even happening, don't use hotel or public computers to conduct financial transactions. Don't use generic ATMs. Don't leave your credit cards in your hotel room. For more tips, see 10 Ways to Guard Against Identity Theft When Traveling.
Use your card’s travel perks. If your laptop is stolen from your hotel room, MasterCard will reimburse you if you used a gold or platinum card to pay for the room. Likewise, if your luggage doesn't arrive when you do, MasterCard will reimburse you for the cost of replacing essential items. Chase customers can call Global Lifeline (the number is on the back of their card) and get help with hotel and airline reservations and medical assistance. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders receive free admission to 150 museums in 85 cities on the first weekend of the month. Learn more about what your credit card can do for you while you're traveling.