Playing Your Cards Right -- Tips for Traveling with Credit Cards
Using credit cards while traveling is a good idea for a number of reasons:
- You have a record of your expenditures for record-keeping and tax purposes (especially important if you travel for business)
- You may get a better exchange rate when obtaining foreign currency when using your credit card.
- Credit card companies can refund disputed charges and may offer extra guarantees, special deals or warranties.
- Your liability in the case of a stolen credit card is limited to $50
But, traveling these days is often a juggling act of luggage, boarding passes, identification cards, passports and a gauntlet of security measures. These identification acrobatics can leave you distracted and even a little bit addled, perhaps putting you more at risk of being targeted by an enterprising pickpocket or purse snatcher.
And, even though your liability is limited, costs can quickly add up if multiple cards are involved. Factor in the hassle and increased risk of identity theft, and it is apparent a few preemptive measures can save you from a boatload of heartache.
Consider the following tips as guidelines to traveling safely and affordably with your credit cards….
Anytime you travel you should make photo copies of all of your credit cards airline tickets and documents, both front and back. You should leave these photocopies with a friend or family member.
Be aware that if you make copies of your cards and documents to take with you, you may be giving thieves another opportunity to rip off your personal information. Consider blacking out details such as expiration dates, verification codes and social security numbers.
If you decide not to carry photocopies of your credit cards, be sure to have the card cancellation numbers from the backs of the cards written down and stashed in your luggage.
Leave a Paper Trail:
Save receipts and keep track of the places you used your card. Make sure receipts are stored in a safe place so they can be checked against your credit card statement to ensure unauthorized charges have not been made and/or gone unnoticed.
His & Hers:
When traveling with other family members, even spouses, bring different credit cards that are on separate accounts. When a card is lost or stolen and must be cancelled, all cards on the account are cancelled as well. Having at least two cards from separate accounts will prevent the situation from leaving you stranded.
Carry only the personal information absolutely necessary for vacation, such as a passport or driver's license. The less personal information you have, the better off you will be if your purse or wallet is stolen.
When traveling by air, always keep copies of important documents in a separate part of your luggage, such as a carry-on bag.
Keep cards on your person. Most travel stores carry small bags that you can keep cards, cash, and other items you will need to access while out and about. Consider a money belt or security wallet.
Look out for fees:
When traveling abroad and using a credit card, watch out for the conversion fee that many banks levy to convert charges in foreign currencies to dollars, generally 1% of the purchase amount. Some banks charge a fee and some don’t so, if you have several cards, it's worth checking with the issuers to see which one has the best deal. Even with the conversion charge, many times ATM machines will have the best possible exchange rates and the lowest fees.
With proper planning, credit cards are a convenient, secure and cost-effective means of payment when traveling. Just keep these tips in mind, and the next time you’re balancing on one foot at the security gate, you’ll be glad you did.
Gail Corwin is a successful author and publisher of http://www.luggage-n-travel-accessories.com. Your online resource for luggage and travel accessories, travel related information, timely articles and tips.