Credit cards can be your best friend in places where you may not need cash, or using cash is inconvenient because of certain reasons such as safety and unavailability of moneychangers. For cardholders who are planning to travel abroad—whether for business or pleasure—credit cards can provide you with a convenience of making cashless and quick transactions overseas. However, even the savviest cardholders get cold feet when using credit cards overseas, a seemingly uncharted territory for most cardholders. So how do credit cardholders can fully take advantage of their credit cards abroad? Here are a few tips that will come in handy the moment you arrive at your destination.
Check with your bank the credit card fees associated with foreign currencies
Most credit card issuers charge cardholders with finance charges such as currency conversion fees for all transactions made overseas, whether they are simple swipes or cash advances through foreign ATMs. To avoid bill shock by racking up tons of financial charges, coordinate with your credit card issuer regarding currency conversion charges. Once you already know how much your bank charges for every swipe overseas, you have a ballpark figure on how much your fees will be.
Apply for a credit card specifically tailored for travelers
Credit card issuers charge foreign currency fees between 0.75% and 3.25% depending on the conversion rate of the issuer. Since foreign currency fees are part of convenience fees charged by banks for being able to use the card overseas, you might as well take advantage of it and rake the points and other advantages offered by travel credit cards. These types of credit cards are specifically made for travelers who want to fully maximize their credit card use. Meanwhile, platinum credit cards have better perks for flyers such as a free upgrade of hotel rooms, concierge services, and other perks. Just keep in mind that high-tier credit cards have steeper requirements such as higher annual salary as well as spotless credit score.
Ask your bank for overseas contact details in case of emergency
Having contact numbers when you go out for a trip overseas can come in handy if you hit a snag with your card. For instance, your card gets declined when you’re about to pay and you have no other payment options with you, you can contact your banks for emergency assistance if you have their overseas contact details. If your banks do not have emergency contact numbers for overseas customers, you can ask for assistance from credit card service companies such as MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. Just make sure that you have all the contact details you need before leaving.
Never underestimate the power of cash
Credit cards, like anything else in the world, are also susceptible to failures. Either by some dumb luck or system malfunction, you may experience severe inconvenience when using credit cards. To make sure that you are prepared in case your credit cards fail you, keep some cash with you at all times, preferably in US dollars for easier conversion. Also, not all shops overseas have credit card terminals, so packing some cash with you will come in handy especially if you see those roadside carts selling sumptuous street food.
Credit cards allow users to have convenient paying options even when shopping overseas. If you own a credit card and you are planning to go out of the country, maximize the use of your credit card—but never forget to swipe wisely.