Taking a vacation with your sweetie should be a fun, relaxing adventure. Free yourselves from money-related headaches while getting your getaway with these helpful hints:
Spend on Souvenirs, Not on Fees
– Since the U.S. dollar doesn’t buy as many minutes of beach side his-and-her massages as it once did, you will want to make the most of every penny while you are away; which means not squandering money on conversion and exchange fees. Most credit cards charge a 3% “foreign transaction fee,” which applies to all charges that are processed outside of America. In order to save, consider applying for a credit card before you travel so you can secure yourself a card that has no foreign transaction fees to bring along on your trip. Chase, Capital One, and Citi are a few of the banks that offer these types of cards. As long as you have your payment processed in the local currency, using a credit card for purchases abroad will always cost you less, even if your cards do apply a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Reap Your Rewards
– Call your credit card company in advance of your adventure to find out exactly what rewards your card offers, because there might be some travel-specific perks available you were not aware of. Some commonly-offered benefits include travel upgrades, concierge service, and car rental or lost luggage insurance. If the two of you are shopping around for a new rewards card to use while on vacation, there are many enticing Visa credit card offers out there, as well as offers from a variety of other issuers.
Don’t Keep Your Trip a Secret
– Alert your credit card company of you and your honey’s travel plans before setting off on your journey. Do this even if you won’t be traveling abroad, but will be stopping in several cities throughout the U.S. in a relatively short period of time. This is particularly important if your itinerary includes paying a visit to any countries outside of Western Europe. Charges made to your account made from faraway lands can raise a red flag at your card company and cause them to suspect fraud. If this happens, they could freeze your account and you could be left in a real lurch. One quick call before you join hands and jet off to parts unknown can keep your plastic in perfect working order throughout your trip.
Be Aware of the Microchip
Many European countries (and elsewhere) have all but done away with credit cards that have a magnetic strip (like most of the ones we use here in the United States), and have converted to cards with an embedded microchip. You should be fine swiping in most retail stores, bars, and restaurants, however places such as train stations or other public transportation kiosks that use automated systems might pose a problem for non-microchip cards. Consider going online to pre-purchase tickets for trains or buses (it’s cheaper!) to eliminate potential hassle and always carry some cash for situations in which your card won’t work.
Bring a Back-up
– Be sure one, or both of you, pack an extra card to have in case of emergencies. Hide the back-up card in your luggage instead of carrying it around when you’re out on the town so it won’t get lost and will be there for you should you need to use it.
Be safe, be smart, and have fun!