Credit cards are part of our everyday lives. It’s hard to imagine how we ever lived without them, but as much as these bits of plastic can make our lives easier, they can also cause a lot of grief, particularly when we’re travelling.
If you’re yet to head off on your holiday, ensure that it’s memorable for the right reasons and review the following list of tips before you take off.
- Check the expiry date on your card to make sure it remains valid for your entire trip.
- Phone your credit card provider and tell them you are travelling overseas. Provide dates of departure and return and even go so far as telling them which countries you will be visiting.
- Write down your card details including the ‘lost and stolen’ helpline number. Take one copy with you and leave one at home in a safe place.
- Fraudsters are getting smarter so treat your credit cards like cash – protect them at all times.
- Travellers’ cheques are still used everywhere so take some with you as an emergency measure.
- Remember you will pay interest on cash advances so think about putting your card in credit or use a debit card to allow you to withdraw cash without interest. (But you will probably have to pay an international transaction fee on these withdrawals.)
- If you put your card in credit, make sure it requires a PIN not a signature to provide an extra level of protection.
- When paying for items, always check what you are paying for before you authorise the payment. Cross out any blank lines before the total so that additional charges can’t be added. If a merchant makes a mistake while processing the transaction, personally tear up the incorrect receipt.
- Don’t use public internet connections to check your credit card or bank statements. It is so easy to infiltrate these connections and all of your banking details can easily be accessed.
- As soon as you return home, check your account and statements carefully. Fraudsters will often make a small transaction on your card as a test. If you see odd amounts or transactions that you don’t recognise report them to your financial institution immediately. If you suspect foul play, call your provider’s 24-hour ‘lost and stolen’ helpline and they can block the card.
- It’s easy to spend more when you’re enjoying yourself so keep copies of your transaction slips to make sure you don’t exceed your credit limit.
- If you will be away longer than a month, set up an automatic payment plan to take care of regular credit card repayments.