Travelling with a credit card: A good or bad idea?
If you’re planning a holiday abroad, one of the first aspects that you’ll need to sort out is money. How much will you take with you? How much will you plan in your budget? And what about emergency funds? All of these questions can be settled — or not — with the use of your credit card. But is it a good idea to travel with a credit card?
One of the most convenient pros that credit cards provide while you’re travelling is the peace of mind that if they are lost or stolen, you’ll be able to replace them quickly. However, even with today’s lightning fast information services, it could still take several days to get a new card, which is a lot of time when you think of a typical holiday. So is this convenience really a convenience? It can be, as long as you have a backup card that you can use while you wait for the replacement. And if you have two or more credit cards with you on holiday, it is best to keep them in separate places for precisely this reason; leave one in the hotel safe, for example, and carry the other one with you.
In case your card is lost or stolen, it also helps to know that you won’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges posted to your account. This advantage goes a long way in helping you enjoy your holiday in spite of a minor mishap with your card.
Another advantage of credit cards is that you can often get the best exchange rate with them while you’re making purchases abroad. This is because you only have to pay for the actual difference in the currency conversion when you use a credit card, not the higher rates set by exchange services. If you’re paying for , or large souvenirs, a credit card is almost certainly the best way to do it. Just make sure you check your card company’s policy on foreign transaction fees before you travel to make sure that they aren’t too expensive to sour this sweet deal.
However, there are some situations where a credit card is not the way to pay on your holiday. Small purchases are best paid with the local currency, such as grabbing a snack when you first arrive or paying the taxi fare to your hotel. If you plan for bringing along cash in enough time, you can usually request an amount from your local bank, which will offer one of the best exchange rates. It’s always wise to have your hands on some cash in the local currency of your destination before you set off on your holiday, too; if you’re unable to locate an ATM once you arrive for lack of knowledge about your surroundings, you’ll be stranded without it. But it can also be helpful to bring along an ATM card on your trip so that you can take out more cash if you need to. Getting cash from an ATM once you’re in your destination country will be much cheaper than exchanging your own cash.
Overall, it seems that there is no one-payment method that works best when travelling. The best strategy is to have several different ways to access your funds via credit card, ATM card, and cash so that you can avoid emergencies if possible and keep a calm head during unfortunate situations if they aren’t avoidable. As long as you plan effectively and travel smartly with your credit card, you should be able to enjoy your holiday.