What credit cards do I need to take with me?
Take your major credit cards, such as, Visa, Master Card and American Express.
Make sure they are really credit cards and not just debit cards with a credit card company’s logo on them. Many locations require a credit card and will not accept a debit card, so they may have limited use on your travel.
Leave all your local store credit cards in a secure location at home; there will be no need to carry them with you.
Why should I contact my credit card companies before I leave?
You want to notify them of your trip. They may delay you if they are unaware you are traveling. The unfamiliar spending patterns might cause them to suspect that the card is being used fraudulently and delay your approvals.
They will be able to explain many of the services that they can provide while you are on your trip.
This same advice goes for any other banks or lending agencies. For instance, if you’ll be drawing money from a home equity line of credit or some other bank loan on your trip, you should let your bank know. They may begin to wonder whether someone has stolen your identity if your credit line is being used all over the world.
How can my credit card company help prepare me for my trip?
You can arrange to pay bills that will come due while you are gone.
They will be aware that you will be making charges from another country.
They will be able to give you an idea of how acceptable their credit card is in that particular country.
They can verify acceptance at certain foreign locations.
They’ll be able to see if your PIN number will work in the countries you are visiting. They can also issue you another PIN number if your current PIN is unacceptable to the foreign bank’s system.
They can explain cash advance, ATM, foreign purchase and foreign exchange rate policies and fees.
They can explain any services they offer, such as, extra insurance for your rental car, luggage or purchases. Make sure the coverage offered extends outside the United States and will be valid in all the countries where you’ll be traveling. Also, be sure to note any other exceptions.
They may need to give you another phone number to call in case you need to reach them. The 800 number listed on the back of your card may not work from foreign locations.
You can find out if they charge a currency conversion fee, so you can find the most economical card on which to place your foreign purchases.
Should I use my ATM card while traveling?
Yes, you’ll have access to cash during your trip so you won’t have to take as much cash with you and using your ATM card can also be a good way to get cash in foreign countries.
The ATM will issue money in local currency.
You should exchange at the bank’s wholesale exchange rate. You may still want to shop around to different banks since some will charge a high usage fee for their ATMs. Although, even high ATM fees may be less than others will charge for currency exchanges.
Don’t wait until you’re out of money to go to an ATM, the machines can run out of money or break down.
What should I know about using travelers checks?
If the particular brand of travelers checks are accepted in the country you’ll be visiting.
How widely they are accepted within the countries you’ll be visiting.
Any fees for purchasing and using the travelers checks.
The travelers check company’s loss, replacement and refund policies.
How can I protect my travelers checks while traveling?
Take the same precautions you would to protect your cash. Be sure to learn and follow the procedures required if you lose your travelers checks. You’ll also need to make copies of your travelers checks before you go and keep separate from them the following information.
- The serial numbers of the travelers checks.
- The denomination of the travelers checks.
- The date and location of their purchase.
- The phone number to call to report them missing.