Are you taking a trip abroad this spring break or this summer? Looking for some tips on how to manage your money, especially in different currencies? Then look no farther! NSCS is proud to present the following nine tips from one of our amazing partners, NerdWallet.
You no longer need to rely on cash or travelers checks when traveling outside of the U.S. Now the same credit cards that you use at home will work abroad, but there are some things you still need to know. If you are headed to an international destination popular for U.S. travelers, it’s likely you can use credit cards for daily expenses. Below are nine tips to help you maximize your credit card use while traveling overseas.
Bring a widely accepted credit card
If a business takes credit card, it’s likely that your Visa or Mastercard will work since they are widely accepted worldwide. American Express, also, has an international presence, but is accepted by fewer merchants. Discover is the least internationally accepted card network but does have some exceptions in places in China and Japan.
Bring more than one card
A backup card is always helpful, especially if one card is declined. Additionally, consider bringing cards that offer bonus rewards for travel spending such as restaurants, hotels and transportation costs, but be sure that the rewards apply outside of the U.S.
Have some cash
Just like in the U.S., some places do not take credit cards. Therefore, having some local currency can be a lifesaver and keep your trip moving forward. As a safety precaution, keep your cash and a photocopy of your passport separate from your cards in case your wallet is stolen.
Tell your issuer you’re traveling
If your credit card account suddenly shows purchases thousands of miles away from your home, your issuer may decline them as suspicious. To avoid this confusion and a frozen account, inform your issuer about your travels in advance.
Avoid foreign transaction fees
Many credit cards charge a fee for each purchase made outside the U.S. Typically, it is a three percent rate. To save yourself from this expense, be sure to bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Most U.S. credit card have a EMV chip and verify the transaction with your signature. However, chip-and-PIN cards, entering a code to verify your identity, are more common outside of the U.S. Chip-and-signature cards can still be used in many places, but self-serve kiosks in Europe and elsewhere commonly require chip-and-PIN. Ask if your issuer offers chip-and-PIN.
Say no to dynamic currency conversion
Dynamic currency conversion allows you to conduct a transaction in U.S. dollars instead of the local currency. This may seem convenient and offer a better idea of what is it costing you, but it’s expensive. The exchange rates for dynamic currency conversion are typically much worse than the rate of your card issuer.
Research your card’s travel protections
Some credit cards – especially those designed for travel – offer travel protections for delayed flights, lost luggage, trip cancellation, accident insurance and much more. Using a card backed by protection will give you peace of mind overseas.
Use your card to access airport lounges
If you have a luxury travel credit card, there’s a good chance you have access to some airport lounges. Many offer complimentary drinks, refreshments and food, and some even offer preflight spa treatments.
Bonus: Be sure to check the expiration date and credit limit of your credit cards before traveling.
Apply this info: As a NSCS member, use your membership login to check out NSCS exclusive benefits such as discounts on worldwide hotels through the NSCS Hotel Finder, internships abroad with Absolute Internship, and overseas study opportunities with Semester at Sea. These credit card tips can travel with you to maximize your international experience.