Credit card usage abroad
It is a good idea to bring your credit card when you travel abroad. It is an easy, simple and secure form of payment. In addition, you avoid carrying large amounts of cash on you. Credit cards often have various insurances included as well as good consumer protection protocols. We have collected some useful tips for when you are travelling.
Before you go
Purchase the trip using a credit card
If your card has a travel insurance included, you are insured during the trip if you have paid for it with the credit card. If a flight is paid with credit card, you can get a full refund if the airline goes bankrupt. If you pay with a debit card however, this might not be possible without other insurances.
Check the expiration date and make copies
It is easy to forget that your card can expire when you are abroad. In addition, it is wise to make a copy of the card and your passport. You should keep these in separate and secure places.
Always bring at least to cards
In case something would happen with one of your cards, it is smart to have a backup. Keep these in different places. If you lose your wallet, you still have your other card.
Write down the blocking service phone number
Most credit card companies have blocking services open 24/7. Write down the phone number for this service on your phone, in a guidebook, notebook or somewhere else where you can easily find it.
During the trip
Do not walk around with too much cash
This might be risky, even though some countries mainly use cash. Do not bring more cash than necessary, and make sure to use secret wallets and other smart ways to hide your valuables. A wallet overflowing with cash in the back pocket is an easy target for pickpockets.
Use a credit card when shopping
You avoid the danger of pickpockets getting to your cash, and avoid having your account emptied if someone gets a hold of your bankcard or card information.
Memorise your PIN-code
If you are going abroad and are going to retrieve cash from an ATM, you should know your PIN-code. A note with the code on it can easily be misplaced.
Control and save all receipts
You are responsible for the total amount when you purchase something, and therefore it is important to control that the receipts are correct. Save all receipts so that you can compare them to the invoice of your credit card when you come home. Remember to check that the total amount is correct before paying, so you do not get any uncomfortable surprises.
Do not leave your card visible in the hotel room
Keep your credit card in a safe place, and make sure to use the safe if available.
Block your card immediately if it disappears
If you lose your card, suspect it has been stolen or used by strangers, block it immediately.
Pay in local currency
Many are not aware that they can lose large amounts if they chose the wrong currency when paying. A rule of thumb is to choose local currency. That way, you do not get extra fees and you get the best exchange rate, calculated by VISA or MasterCard. You are entitled to choose whether you want to pay with local or your home currency. There is no restrictions to how the outlets calculates the exchange rate. The difference in exchange rates can sum up to be a big amount if you do a lot of shopping abroad.
When you get back
Remember to check all purchases made on your card when you get home, and check that the invoice is correct before you pay it. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, or if you have been over-charged, contact your credit card supplier immediately.
Do you want to learn more about your rights when making payments in Europe?
Download leaflet from the European Commission.