3 Tips for Using a Credit Card Overseas

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Before you pack your credit card for foreign travel, make sure you know how to avoid fees and contact the company from afar.

Heading overseas this summer? If so, you’re joining about 25 million of your fellow Americans vacationing abroad, says the website Travel Industry Wire.

But before you go, make sure you know the rules of the foreign road when it comes to credit card use. To get up to speed, try these three key tips:

1. Beware of higher fees

Pulling out your plastic in Prague might be tempting but, if you do so, be prepared to pay a higher card fee than if you used your credit card in Pittsburgh. How much higher? According to the analyst firm H.E. Freeman, card carriers can charge up to a 3% surcharge (called a “foreign transaction fee”) on your credit card and your debit card when you use them overseas.

Here’s a recent story with some fees charged by specific banks, including a couple that don’t charge a fee at all.

Also, try to avoid getting cash advances from your credit card. That’s one of the biggest offenders, fee-wise. You may be charged a bank exchange rate fee, a foreign exchange fee, an ATM fee and a higher rate of interest from a cash withdrawal.

2. Tell your card company you’re going overseas

Repeated use of a credit card in foreign countries is a big red flag for card carriers – they may suspect that it’s been stolen and will block your account. That could be problematic if you’re depending on your card to pay for hotels, trains and meals. Before you go, call the 1-800 number on your card and let your card company know you’ll be using your plastic in foreign bourses.

3. Get good contact information

Chances are that your 1-800 number won’t work outside the United States. Make sure you call your card company before you get on that plane and get a contact number that works internationally. You’ll need it if your card is lost or stolen, or is turned down for any reason.

Traveling to foreign bourses is a lifetime memory. But you’ll need a credit card to help fund that memory. So take good care of it – and it will take good care of you.

Stacy Johnson

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