Traveling with Your Credit Card: Safety Precautions to Consider

It’s summer, which means that many of us are packing up our bags and heading for the hills (or the beach, or the museums). The last thing you want to worry about is your credit card.

Unfortunately, all too many of us face hassles with credit card security while traveling — especially during trips abroad. These problems can range from the annoying to the devastating, but most of them are very preventable. Here’s how to have a worry-free vacation.

Pre-departure Preparations

You wouldn’t leave home without booking your flight or packing your bag, and credit card security is just as important. Make sure to add a few credit card specific tasks to your pre-departure list.

  • Call your card issuer to notify them of your travel plans.

Many credit card issuers have built-in fraud protection that could shut down your card if it’s used outside of your normal purchase pattern. The last thing you want is to have your card denied at that fabulous Italian bistro, so give your card issuer a heads up.

  • Do some research regarding foreign transaction fees.

If you carry multiple credit cards, you should know that there might be a wide variation between your cards when it comes to foreign transaction fees. Call your card issuers or do some digging online to compare fees.

  • Learn how to contact your credit card issuer while abroad.

Toll-free numbers don’t typically work abroad, so you’ll need a different way to contact your credit card issuer if you encounter problems during your travels. Some cards have international numbers printed right on the back. If yours doesn’t, call them up before you leave and ask them what number to use. Write down this number and keep it with your travel documents.

  • Make copies of the front and back of your credit cards.

This is one step that’s frequently overlooked, but if your cards are stolen, having photocopies can be very helpful. Many travelers also do this for passports.

  • Make sure your card will be accepted abroad.

Not all cards are taken around the world. Consider getting an EMV chip card (if yours doesn’t already have this feature), which is more widely accepted abroad – especially in Europe.

EMV Chip Cards

EMV security chip cards are fairly new to the U.S. market, but they have become the go-to standard in other countries. These cards feature embedded microchips that can hold a large volume of dynamic data. They also require entry of a pin in order to complete a transaction, and that means that a thief who simply has your card number can’t use your card.

If you bring an American swipe card abroad, expect it to be rejected at several common locations, including:

  • Gas stations
  • Parking meters
  • Many merchants and retailers
  • Destinations in Europe other than major cities

Handling Your Credit Card While Abroad

So you’ve taken all the precautions before boarding the plane: what about when you’ve reached your destination? There are several steps you can take to avoid fraud, theft, and unnecessary trouble abroad.

  • Avoid use of your credit card in less-than-secure situations.

The street vendor may have a lovely smile and even better food for sale, but this probably isn’t the best place to pull out your credit card.

  • Have your travel companion carry a different card as a back-up.

Even if you plan on relying primarily on one card, it’s not a bad idea to have a back-up along — and to have it carried by someone else. That way, if your wallet or money carrier is lost or stolen, you aren’t completely out of luck.

  • Keep your credit card in sight.

Try to hand your credit card directly to the person who will be processing the transaction. You’ll want to avoid situations where someone takes your card out of sight to process a transaction, because that scenario makes it easy for them to steal your information.

  • Be cautious with ATMs.

ATM fees can be extremely steep for international transactions. In addition, many foreign ATMs (especially outside of western Europe) are not as secure as we may expect from our U.S. counterparts. If you are traveling abroad and you must use an ATM, choose one that is attached to a legitimate business (preferably a bank).

  • Carry cash or travelers checks as back-up.

Try to carry enough local currency or traveler’s checks to get by each day (but not so much that you’re a ripe target for muggers). Credit cards are convenient, but if yours is declined or stolen and you don’t have an alternative method of payment available, you won’t think it’s very convenient. Look into getting a discreet carrying pouch specifically designed for passports and money, which is much more secure than a wallet or purse.

  • Document everything.

Keep receipts of all purchases in case mysterious charges are added to your account later. Keeping receipts also helps with expense tracking, so you can stay on budget.

The Bottom Line

This list may have left you a little uneasy. Don’t worry — you’ve already taken the first step by informing yourself. Credit cards are usually part of the solution — not the problem, when you’re traveling abroad. All you have to do is take proper precautions and exercise a bit of due diligence. Just think about how much more relaxing that well-deserved vacation will be, knowing that you don’t have to spend a moment worrying about your credit cards.

Bon Voyage!

Article Source: Ellen Gans for thesimpledollar.com

How to Enjoy Your Tropical Vacation While On a Budget

Just because you are watching your money closely, doesn’t mean you can’t travel to a luxury resort without breaking the bank. Here are a few ways you can have a luxury tropical vacation (or an incredible honeymoon), without going broke.

Go to the grocery.

Stopping by a local grocery store for food and beverages could be critical to saving money. Like many other locales, resorts in the Caribbean are known to be extremely pricey. With a simple bike ride to the store, you could save tremendously on necessities for a week’s stay. For example, instead of eating every meal at expensive restaurants, if your room has a full kitchen, you can buy items to cook for lunch and plan to only eat dinners out instead.

Walk (or bike), don’t ride.

Instead of paying for a taxi every time you need to travel around town, either walk or ride the bikes provided by your resort. Also, renting a car for getting around town can be pricey too. So, by walking and biking instead of riding, you save money and also get some exercise.

Listen to the locals.

Locals working at your resort may know about events going on in town, that are hosted by the local tourism department – which may be worthwhile for you to attend. You will just want to confirm with your resort’s concierge, that you are in a safe area/country before leaving your resort to attend an offsite event. At these events, you might be able to find great food at low prices, and inexpensive souvenirs handmade by local merchants. By listening to suggestions of those from the area, you can get a glimpse of the local culture, and save greatly on food, drinks, and gifts.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

The Best Times to Buy Airfare

Surprisingly, there’s no difference in airfare whether buying a ticket on a Sunday, Tuesday or any other day of the week. The cheapest fares are typically found when you book about 70 days before departure.

Bargain shopping? Try to monitor airfares for travel routes during the prime booking window (4 months to 3 weeks before leaving). Destination discount fare alerts can be set up on such sites as Hipmunk.com, Airfarewatchdog.com, GoogleFlights.com or an app like Hopper. The one factor that plays a significant role in price is the time of year you plan to travel.

Here are some tips on when to buy flights for each season:

Summer

The best summer deals are in August and September, with late summer offering the lowest prices overall.

  • The average best time to buy is 47 days (about 1.5 months) in advance.
  • Prime Booking Window is 14 – 160 days (2 weeks – 5 months) from travel.

Fall

If you’re traveling in the fall (excluding Thanksgiving), you can usually wait a bit longer to book air tickets and still not miss out on the good prices.

  • The best time to buy is 69 days out
  • Prime Booking Window is 21 – 100 days from travel.

Winter

Here are tips for general (non-holiday) winter travel.

  • 62 days from your expected travel date is the best time to buy an affordable airline ticket in the winter months.
  • Prime Booking Window is 21 – 110 days from travel.

Spring

With Spring Break dates spanning March through April, finding a good deal in the spring can be challenging.

  • Exactly 3 months (90 days) from your travel date on average is the window to buy best airfare for spring air travel.
  • Prime Booking Window is 46 – 122 days from travel.

Happy vacationing!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

 

Ways to Save on Your Last Minute Summer Vacation

We’re in the midst of August and that means the start of the school year is around the corner. But the summer heat is lingering and there’s still time to take a last-minute vacation before fall arrives. Here are four ways to save on your final summer trip of the year.

Stay close.

You can still get away while not venturing too far from home. Check out places to visit that are within driving distance. That way you can see something new and different without paying the hefty price of air travel.

Visit friends and family.

Check into areas where you have connections and a free place to rest your head. Accommodations are a budget-killer so forget the pricey hotels and ask a friend or family member if you can pay them a visit before the busy school and work year gets revved up.

Research airline discounts.

Many flights are a fraction of the cost at the end of the summer season. Start by following your airline of choice on social media and track their last-minute summer travel deals. Also, because you’re planning quickly, consider traveling during the week or at flexible times when airlines will reduce rates to fill flights.

Hold off on the hotel.

Instead of dropping hundreds on a pricey hotel room, consider booking your accommodations through Airbnb. Although you may not receive turndown and concierge services offered at hotels, Airbnb will offer lodging that is charming and unique. Also, consider checking out Roomer.com, a service where travelers who’ve cancelled their plans (and had a non-refundable room) the opportunity to sell them back to those on a budget. Many rooms available are offered at up to 85% off the original booking price.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

3 Vacation Expenses You’re Forgetting About

Vacation season is in full swing and it’s time to get packing. Your flight and hotel are booked and you’re ready to go. But before you take your trip, take a careful look at your travel budget. Are there certain expenses you may be overlooking? Be sure to take a look at these three commonly forgotten travel costs so you can plan your vacation budget accordingly.

Airport parking

In most cases, airports don’t require payment for parking until travelers return from their trip and head home. Therefore, once you arrive at the airport and head off to your destination, paying for parking may not be on your radar. It’s important to keep parking costs in mind while you’re enjoying your trip so when it’s time to pay, you still have enough set aside. Also, consider parking in economy lots over more expensive options. Even if you have to park farther away and take a shuttle to the terminal, at least you’ll be saving a few bucks after an expensive getaway.

Tipping

We all know to tip at restaurants, but it’s also proper to tip for other services while on vacation. The American Hotel & Lodging Association gives specific details on who should be given gratuity and how much. Examples of such services that are often overlooked by tippers include housekeepers, concierges, room service attendants, and travel guides.

Extra fees

It can often be difficult to find our preferred bank while traveling. Using ATMs at other banks can cost anywhere from $3-5, which can add up if you’re withdrawing cash multiple times. Instead, before your vacation begins, know where your bank’s ATMs are located or prepare to take out enough cash in advance before you travel. Aside from the cost of ATMs, also consider fees for using Wi-Fi (whether on a plane or in your hotel room) and data roaming charges. There’s nothing worse than using your phone for the internet and messaging only to come home to a massive cell phone bill you weren’t anticipating.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

5 Money Saving Travel Apps

You’ve arrived at your destination, now what? Take advantage of having a smartphone and download these helpful travel apps!

WhatsApp – More than 1 billion people around the world use this calling and messaging service. The app is free, secure, and it allows you to interact with family and friends through voice or text without having to pay additional fees or charges. The app will run off your internet access, so as long as you have service – you can stay in touch with the important people in your life at no cost, no matter where you are.

Free Wi-Fi Finder – This app will help you find free Wi-Fi access in more than 50 countries around the world. Traveling is already so expensive, so why waste your data when you can use this free app to locate Wi-Fi, and connect on the go?

OpenTable – Using this app, you can make restaurant reservations at more than 33,000 establishments worldwide and also earn points which can later be converted into gift cards.

Hopper – Downloading this app can potentially save you 40% on your next flight. Just enter your preferred itinerary and wait to be notified. The app will search for deals and immediately inform you of the best time to book your trip.

Roomer – What if you make hotel reservations and your plans change? What if you can’t cancel and you’re stuck paying for a room you don’t need? Enter the Roomer app that connects those who have an empty (and paid for) hotel room, with travelers on the lookout for the best hotel rates. Just enter details on the room you’re trying to sell and the app promotes the room to travelers at a discounted price.

Happy, easy, and safe travels!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com