As you pack your sunscreen and swimwear in prep for your summer holiday don’t forget to make room for your credit card and money belt. Whilst travel has become easier and more accessible so have the methods of payment which make it easier for fraudsters to take a bite out of your finances.
Theft or fraud can be a huge inconvenience, especially when you’re abroad and credit cards besides other things when used appropriately can provide the protection and security of your money. Here are our tips on protecting your money whilst abroad.
Don’t carry all your cards and money in one place
Only take with you the cards that you intend to use and leave all other cards in the hotel room safe or in a secure place, so in case your bag or wallet does get stolen or lost you won’t lose everything. As an added benefit your bag won’t be weighed down by unnecessary items.
Inform your bank
Unusual activity on a credit or debit card can usually trigger fraud alerts with banks; if you plan on travelling abroad inform your card provider so they know to expect international card use to prevent your card being stopped.
Get your bank’s contact number
Ensure you have your card company’s 24 hour contact number and they have your up to date contact details in case of any problems that may occur.
Carry little cash and pay in local currency
Take a small amount of cash in the local currency to pay for travel and small purchases and try to only carry notes in small denominations.
Keep your eye on your money
Take your time and stay vigilant when dealing with money especially if you are in an unfamiliar country. Accompany a waiter or shop owner if they tell you the card machine is in so you know what they are doing.
Don’t flash your cash
Openly handling your cash can attract potential fraudsters so try to be discrete. Also it can help to hide your money in less obvious places. Carry a money belt with you. It may not be the most fashionable piece of gear but money belts are designed to protect your money and other small valuables from thieves whilst seemingly concealed.
Credit Cards Abroad
Using a credit card is one of the best ways to protect your money whilst abroad and the travel perks of using a credit card abroad are ample, with security and protection of your money being the two main benefits.
Unless recovered by travel insurance, the chances of retrieving stolen or lost cash are small. A credit card offers a level of protection that other forms of payment don’t offer. With a credit card you can cancel it and you won’t be liable for any unauthorised charges on it.
Purchases made on a credit card are covered by the Consumer Credit Act and applies anywhere you are in the world. This means if you buy something (of a value between £100 and £30,000) that is faulty or something goes wrong you can recover the cost from your credit card provider or the retailer as they are equally liable.
Although there are many benefits, using credit cards for overseas spending is usually charged at a fee. These the three fees you need to watch out for splashing on the plastic:
Foreign exchange fee
When purchasing goods abroad on your credit card your provider may charge a foreign exchange fee/rate which is usually around 2.75%. The same goes for debit cards. One way to avoid being charged a foreign exchange fee is, if you can try to pay in local currency at the point of transaction rather than in pound sterling.
Cash withdrawal fees
If you use your credit or debit card to withdraw cash you may be charged a withdrawal fee. Typically cash withdrawals from a foreign ATM are charged at 2.5% of the amount that is withdrawn.
As with all credit cards if the balance isn’t paid off in full an interest is charged, excluding those with an interest free period. However if you withdraw money from an ATM abroad you will be charged interest from the day you took the money out, regardless of 0% purchase periods.
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