7 tips for using credit cards while traveling - Part 1

In all likelihood, your mind won't be on your credit card balance or upcoming bills while on vacation or a holiday.

However, Nessa Feddis, senior vice president for consumer protection and payment at the American Bankers Association, recommends "checking balances more often" while traveling. By keeping track of your spending and any fees or additional charges that may be incurred, you can lessen your chances of falling victim to fraud or theft while you're away from home.

Mobile banking apps make it more convenient to check accounts, she adds. Notify your credit card company of your upcoming trip 1. Avoid having your first overseas purchase incorrectly flagged as fraud by notifying your card issuer in advance of your trip.

Susan Tiffany, a former director of consumer periodicals at the Credit Union National Association, advises, "If you're going to be outside your normal stomping ground, make sure you let your card issuer know." It's never a bad idea, even if you're just going across state lines. She also specifies that this rule applies to debit and credit cards.

Your credit card might be declined if you try to use it to buy croissants on the Champs-Élysées in Paris instead of the sneakers you usually buy on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Bonus travel advice from Tiffany: while you're on the phone with your debit card issuer, find out if you have a daily spending limit or a daily ATM withdrawal limit. Not all cards have this feature, but knowing whether or not yours does is important before you leave.

Secondly, examine your travel benefits.
The cash back or point rewards on your credit cards may be the primary reason you use them. Some cards even come with perks that make it easier to book hotels and flights in advance.

Insurance for a rented car
Concierge assistance
Offers like free breakfasts and late checkouts at hotels
Affordable international health coverage
Insurance for unexpected evacuation

And don't forget to earn points for your purchases while away. Cash-back credit cards with dining rewards can be convenient for eating out while traveling, and credit cards with travel rewards can be useful for saving money on things like car rentals and spontaneous day trips.

Identity Theft Resource Center CEO and President Eva Velasquez recommends an additional precaution for travelers: don't keep all your cards in one place. That way, you can still use your cards even if some of them are misplaced or stolen, because you'll have backups.

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