Don’t let the convenience of traveling overseas with a credit card turn into a nightmare. Follow these credit card tips to avoid the hassle of frozen funds, phony charges, and denied payments.
1. Call your bank and let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. Otherwise the unusual transaction activity may lead to your account being frozen.
2. Research beforehand to know what the foreign transaction fees are for your cards. Also see which cards are most commonly accepted. In general, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted abroad, but it’s wise to double-check for the particular country you’re visiting. If possible, have more than one option between you and your traveling companions.
3. Write down the card numbers, including the numbers to call if your card gets lost or stolen (remember that 800 numbers are unlikely to work abroad). Keep them somewhere secure and separate from where you keep your cards. Even better, get a USB drive that lets you encrypt the information, and store it there.
4. Take the same precautions you’d take anywhere, such as covering the keypad when you type in your PIN and knowing where your card is at all times.
5. Carry cash for emergencies. Having cash on hand is a good idea anywhere—though for safety reasons, avoid traveling with large sums of money.
6. Avoid fraud by making sure you see the receipt before signing any statement. Some unscrupulous business owners may say there was a problem with your transaction and ask to run the card again. Make sure you get a receipt showing that the original charge was cancelled before signing anything again.
7. Keep your receipts. It’s hard to look at your statement later and remember where all the charges came from, let alone if they’re the correct amount. If you don’t want to keep track of the paper receipts, there are iPhone apps that can scan and organize your receipts for easy viewing later.
8. Review your statements soon after being charged—preferably while still in the country where you were charged—to make sure everything is correct.
9. Traveling with a magnetic strip card? Most of Europe and many other countries have switched to chip-and-PIN technology, which means your magnetic card may not be accepted everywhere.