Modern jet-setters can easily explore other parts of the world through international travel. However, they need to plan ahead to ensure their financial protection and safety before cruising, driving, or flying to foreign countries.
Using a credit card internationally instead of carrying large amounts of cash makes sense in an era when global transactions are quick and convenient. Plus, you can dispute charges for goods charged on your card if it is lost or stolen, which is not the case with cash.
Want another reason to carry a credit card? The currency exchange benefits of credit cards cannot be overlooked. Most credit card companies have comparable, up-to-the-minute exchange rates that are lower than the high fees of an overseas financial institution or an airport money exchange kiosk. As soon as a purchase happens, it is processed as close to the current rate as possible, giving buyers value and peace of mind.
Most people already carry cards. In fact, about half of consumers prefer using debit cards for everyday purchases, and 26% prefer using credit cards. Yet being comfortable and familiar with credit cards as a sole or primary payment choice does not mean international travelers should not take extra steps before hitting cruising altitude. In fact, everyone planning to use a passport can follow these best practices to ensure credit card safety while traveling:
Credit card providers have become extremely astute and sensitive at picking up on cardholders’ routines and subsequently freezing a card when it is used outside of normal patterns. Statistics show that up to 4% of plane ticket purchases do not go through because the issuer assumes the card was stolen. If the issuer notices a purchase in Japan by a cardholder who lives in Kansas, it might consider it a red flag and decline further transactions because of suspected fraud.
Giving the credit card company a heads-up about an itinerary to far-flung places makes sense. Plenty of companies allow cardholders to upload their travel plans via an app. Still, a phone call might be in order just to be safe.
It is recommended to have a minimal amount of local currency stashed away in a money belt or other inconspicuous place. After all, some bistros, street vendors, and merchants do not take credit cards. Besides, if your credit cards go missing, cash can come in handy.
Getting currency can be as easy as ordering it from a local bank before the trip or exchanging American dollars at a foreign city or port. Research the going exchange rate to understand what to expect.
Many cardholders have no idea that the toll-free number on the back of the card will not connect abroad. Always seek out alternative numbers to use to call the issuer if anything happens.
Ideally, this information should be written on a piece of paper. Take a picture of the paper as a form of backup. Having a working phone number makes it easier to connect with a credit card provider in case of emergency. The FTC recently reported that credit card fraud had again become the most common type of identity theft reported in the country, with a total of 230,937 complaints reported nationwide for the first half of 2022. The sooner a credit card provider can shut down a card, the better.
Credit card companies design their own cardholder protection guidelines. It is up to the cardholder to understand what they are.
For instance, several credit card issuers have special clauses that are beneficial for travelers on the go. They might offer insurance for lost luggage, accidents, or more. Or they could offer practical card upgrades that travelers might appreciate.
At Cathay Bank, our credit cards1 offer foreign currency transaction fees at competitive rates and allow cardholders to earn unlimited points based on how many dollars they spend.
Our cards feature Mastercard® Global Service, providing 24-hour assistance with lost and stolen card reporting, emergency card replacement, and emergency cash advance, allowing you to travel at ease.2
This article does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although the information contained herein is intended to be accurate, Cathay Bank does not assume liability for loss or damage due to reliance on such information.