cards are an excellent way to pay while you are away. They
offer a virtual bounty of money at the blink of an eye (assuming
you don't already have your card maximized) to cover any financial
emergency. But today's credit card programs offer much more
than just accessible money.
The Power of
Credit card companies can serve as a travel assistance service.
You can call a toll-free number provided by your credit card
and receive information that will help you plan your trip.
These benefits can be real time-savers, and the money transfer
features that are offered can save you money.
One of the most
useful aspect of these services is that the card travel service
center can serve almost as a secretary and message center
in an emergency. Credit card assistance centers will pass
along emergency messages to friends, family and business associates.
This allows you to make only one call to the assistance center
- they do the rest.
can also help if things go wrong during your trip. In case
of arrest, an automobile accident or need of other legal assistance,
they can save you a lot of time by offering easy access to
worldwide legal referral assistance, referrals to English-speaking
attorneys and contact with embassies and consulates.
They also offer
emergency transportation and medical assistance. If you become
ill or are injured during a trip, most credit card assistance
centers will help make arrangements to bring you home or transfer
you to another hospital. If you are traveling alone and have
a travel emergency, they will also assist in making travel
arrangements to bring a family member or close friend to you.
The credit card companies in most cases will not pay for any
of the charges to change flights as all expenses are paid
for by the card member. Both Visa and MasterCard Gold cards
will also assist in filling prescriptions. If the prescriptions
are not locally available, they can arrange for delivery.
And Money Too
Besides all of the benefits mentioned above, credit cards
are great for the real reason they were made - making purchases.
But there are many things to learn about this method of payment
that will help save yourself some money and make it convenient
- contact your
credit card company in advance to let it know which countries
you will be using your card in. Your credit card company,
suspecting something is amiss when you're overseas, may
cancel or put a hold on your card when charges from some
distant country show up on a card that previously had been
used only locally.
- if you plan
on taking a card that you haven't used in a while, use the
card several times in the months preceding a trip to a foreign
destination or the credit card company may get suspicious
and cancel it in mid-trip.
- take two credit
cards with you as well as your bank card. That way if one
doesn't work (as sometimes happens) you will have a back-up.
- don't keep both
credit cards together while traveling. Keep them separate
so if you lose one or get mugged, you will have a backup
card in another location.
- write down the
phone number of the credit card company to report a lost
or stolen card immediately
- check the expiration
dates of your credit cards before you leave and give yourself
at least a couple of months leeway before they expire
- don't leave
your credit cards in the small safes offered by some hostels
and hotels. Staff have keys to these so-called security
devices and could 'borrow' your card to either make purchases
(which you probably wouldn't find out about until you got
home) or make a copy of your card which could then be used
over and over. Putting your cards in a signed and sealed
envelope before locking them in the safe is an excellent
- when you make
credit card purchases, don't let your card out of your site
for more than a couple of minutes. It takes very little
time for someone to make an extra charge or two while you
are waiting for your card.
- be sure to write
the currency beside the final cost on your receipt.
- when you are
bargaining over the price of an item, keep in mind that
you are, more often than not, expected to pay in cash. Proceeding
to pay with your credit card may void the deal or cost you
- using a credit
card may provide you with some sort of insurance policy
for theft, loss or breakage, depending on your card company.
- make sure that
you have a four (or five) digit PIN number for your credit
cards. This way you can use your credit card for cash withdrawals.
This is important because foreign banks don't always have
the same bank card system as you do. The PLUS and INTERAC
system (popular ATM systems) aren't always available. Your
ATM card will just get spit back in your face. However,
almost all bank machines accept Visa and MasterCard.
- before you leave,
put a cash advance payment on your credit card (pay more
on it than is required). This will prevent you from getting
dinged with HUGE interest rates from taking out cash advances.
- when making
purchases, don't hesitate to use your credit card. These
companies usually offer better exchange rates than the store
or shop you are in. Keep in mind that the exchange rate
used by the credit card company is the one that is current
at the time you get billed, not when you make the
- always have
some cash on you. There may be times when you won't
be able to use your credit card.
- visit Visa and MasterCard
for details on using their cards.