Credit card in hand

Eight tips for using your credit card while travelling

Paying for goods and services by credit card when travelling is so easy and convenient that most people don’t give a second thought. Credit cards are widely accepted worldwide, they’re often easier to use than cash and they’re often tied to loyalty programs. But convenience has a price.

If you are planning a trip and intend to use your credit card for the bulk of your purchases, here are some tips on optimizing how you use your card.

  1. Notify your credit card company that you will be travelling
    Even if you are leaving for a road trip or are planning a shopping trip across the border, notify your credit card company of your plans. With credit card fraud being a huge issue, many credit card companies will flag cards and suspend their use if they are used in an unfamiliar location – it’s a hassle you want to avoid when you’re on vacation.
  2. Clarify account balances, credit limits and terms of use
    It’s important to understand the conditions that apply to your credit card before you leave. Be clear about your account balance and your credit limit – ask to increase the limit for the duration of your trip if necessary. Make sure you are clear about the costs of your card’s features, especially cash advances.
  3. Keep contact information handy
    You never know when you may need to call your credit card company. Have their contact information with you, in your mobile directory or with your passport - not in your wallet. If your card is lost or stolen, or if it gets flagged, you want to be able to contact your provider to resolve the issue.
  4. Take advantage of travel perks
    Many credit cards offer perks for people who use their card while travelling. There are sometimes fees on these services, but they may be worth it for things like discounts at hotels and restaurants, upgrades and preferential treatment. Learn about the perks and benefits of your card before you depart.
  5. Check your account regularly
    Track your account. Transaction, conversion and network access fees can add up quickly and cut into your credit limit. Fraudsters like to prey on tourists using credit and debit cards. Be careful, and trust your instincts if you suspect something is off. Check your account regularly to verify that all charges are accurate. If you have a doubt, call your card provider immediately.
  6. Be clear on due dates
    Always make sure that you are clear on your billing due date. Call customer service to see if you can adjust your due date to accommodate your trip’s timeline if you need to. No one wants to accrue interest charges unknowingly.
  7. Download the app
    Most credit card providers have an app. Download it before departing and access your account in a few clicks.
  8. Ask questions
    Not sure if you can use it in certain locations? Call a customer service agent. Get all the information on your advantages and your obligations when abroad.

If your card provides travel insurance, double check your coverage. Travel arrangements must be paid with your credit card to be covered. Are the trip duration and insurance amounts sufficient? Probably not.

Purchase Blue Cross travel insurance before departing and enjoy our pre-departure assistance services. Protect your travel investment with trip cancellation or interruption insurance, regardless of how you paid for your travel.