Blogs > Your Money

Dave Patterson and Erin Preston, a father-daughter team of Certified Financial Planner® licensees, provide thoughts and suggestions on a broad collection of personal finance topics.  Information provided in this BLOG is intended to be of a general nature and may not be appropriate for all situations.  Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before relying on any information contained herein.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Notify Credit Card Companies Before Traveling

When preparing for a trip, it’s always a good idea to notify your credit card companies as to where you’ll be traveling. Recently, my wife and I took a one week cruise and I was pleased to see that two of our credit card companies provided an easy way to enter travel details online, via the Internet. A third card company required that we call them to notify them of where we were going and when.

Unfortunately, notifying your credit card companies does not ensure your cards won’t be blocked when you try to use them. A few years ago, we took a cruise to Costa Rica and the first time we tried to use one card, its use was blocked, even though we had notified our card company of the trip in advance.

We suggest you take two or three cards with you, to avoid the inconvenience and possible embarrassment of one or more of them not working. It’s possible a card may work for a while and then be shut down, if someone tries to use your card fraudulently. If a card won’t work you can call the company via the 800 number on the back of the card and they may be able to resolve the problem.

It is also suggested that you take some cash or traveler’s checks along with you to help minimize your credit card transactions. Not only will this help avoid fraudulent use of your card but it will help you avoid the added fees tacked on by the banks issuing the credit cards. Most banks now typically charge an additional 3%for credit and debit card purchases. Many fear that the fees may go even higher in the not-too-distant future.

Capital One, as far as we know, is the only major credit card issuer that does not charge foreign transaction fees. Others companies have lowered their fees for select groups but an annual fee is typically required.

Another reason for taking some cash is that many European countries have adopted what is called “Chip and pin” technology, which requires credit cards to have an embedded chip and personal identification number in order to work. If you don’t have one of these new types of cards, you’ll need to have some cash on hand. You should check with your card companies to see if your cards include the new technology.


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