Credit Card Advice (Travel)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by lionkingZ, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. lionkingZ macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    Hi there,

    I did do a search and found some overlapping threads, but thought it might be best to start my own to address my own concerns.

    I have never owned a credit card before but I am interested in getting one because I think it might be the safest card that I could carry when travelling abroad for a prolonged period of time.

    However, as I'm so uneducated in the matter, I don't really know what I should be looking for. What are the main things to look for when getting a card? Will I be limited in choice because of my lack of credit history? Is getting a card for travel a good idea? I was planning on taking the credit card, then paying this amount off immediately from my debit account each month.


    Thank you very much
  2. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2010
    Twin Cities
    If you have the money to pay it off right away its a safe option but credit cards are nasty trap. If you already have a debit card why can't you just use that when traveling instead? I would do that since ultimately the money will be coming from the same place. I will say it would be a good idea to get one to bring "just in case" because you never what'll happen thousands of miles from home. The things I would look for are the lowest interest rate (under 10% should be doable). Then I'd look for convenience features. Rewards bonuses, or periods of zero interest. A lot of cards will do zero interest for 60-180 days from when you open the card. My current card doesn't charge interest on a purchase until its been on the card for 30 days so I can pay it off every month without paying extra. A nice feature if I could afford to use it. Does that help?
  3. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2009
    Since you have limited credit, your credit limit might not be that high. Not sure if that's an issue for you or not but with the bubble bursting recently on credit, most card companies aren't going to lavish you with free gifts, great interest rates, etc, like they used to. Main thing you'll want to be aware of is the interest rate and if there are any annual fees for the card. Obviously low interest rate and no annual fee are great but most cards I've seen usually have rates anywhere from 9.99 - 25.99 APR's. Since your credit is limited, you might not get a great rate but if you pay it off all at once, then it won't be that big an issue for you.

    Whatever card you get, try and get one that has some sort of reward points system. Since you're going to be using it, might as well get some additional benefits from it if you can. I think Southwest's credit card is offering enough free points that you can get a free plane ticket if you sign up. That one does have an annual fee though.

    Once you get your card, make sure you tell your credit card company that you'll be traveling and where. If you're based in the US and all of the sudden start getting international charges on your card, most companies will disable your card as they think it might be fraudulent charges or something. I made this mistake once when traveling to Paris and, let me tell ya, it was great having zero money in my pocket AND being unable to use my card while over there. If that happens to you, a phone call to your card company will fix it but I figured I'd let you know ahead of time to save you some headache.
  4. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2010
    Twin Cities
    This +1

    You have to tell them you're leaving or they will flag and shut down your card. Very embarrassing.
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    This is great advice, and I agree completely.
  6. statik13 macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2008
    All good advice so far.

    You just mentioned "abroad" for your travel destination. Where exactly is that? It makes a difference for bank cards and credit cards.

    North America and Europe are pretty dead simple. Just about any bank cards or credit cards will work.

    If you go to less developed destinations things can be different. We toured some of the south Africa countries last year and had troubles with our Mastercard. Visa definitely was accepted in more places.

    As for bank cards, make sure you have a 4 digit pin. A lot of the machines don't take more than that. Also, some machines won't let you choose between your cash and cheque account, so keep money in both.

    Also, don't forget to bring photocopies of your cards with you. Carry them on person, but not it your wallet. If you lose your wallet or are pick pocketed, at least you'll have all the info to get things sorted out. Might also be able to do the same thing with a memory stick, but then you'd need access to a computer. Either way, make sure you can get at your card number & know the support number to call if any troubles happen.
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    All good advice. I have needed to be able to cancel a stolen credit card at short notice and it is a very good idea to have a record of the details of the card somewhere other than your wallet.

    If you have spare cash, (counter-intuitive, I know) put it into your credit card account before you go abroad. As long as the account is in credit, it attracts no charges whatsoever. And yes, it is excellent advice to inform banks in advance of travel plans.

  8. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2003
    A bit off-topic, but I would get an RFID-blocking wallet if I didn't have one, before traveling anywhere. Lots of credit cards have these chips nowadays.

    Supposedly the US passport covers will block any signals, but only if closed. Some people put a rubber band around the passport to keep it closed.
  9. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    Having a card for travel is a good idea for paying big bills, hotels for example, since you wont have to worry about the safety of carrying around a BIG pile of cash, but not so good for smaller transactions.

    But most banks now charge foreign currency conversion fees that can make it expensive to use your CC to pay for a lot of smaller everyday expenses. A lot of cards charge you for EACH transaction which can add up fast if you're using your card as you might at's usually at least a % of the charge or a minimum fee that runs $3 to $5 per transaction; and $3 to $5 added to every little purchase can add up to quite a bit over the course of a trip.
  10. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    As long as you are paying it off each month on time, you don't really need to be concerned about the APR. Your best bet is probably to go to your bank and tell them what you need, and they'll be able to help you out.

    For me at least, when I switched to Bank of America (because their ATMs are AWESOME for depositing cash & checks), I told them I wanted to sign up for a credit card too. I'm just finishing school, only 23, so I don't have a credit history.

    They gave me a Bank Americard Platinum Cash Rewards card with just a $900 limit, but it's good for what I need. I have it mostly to make small purchases (and pay off each month) to build up credit, and for a back up in case my debit card doesn't work somewhere (some card readers are picky). I've used it for some bigger purchases too, like NHL playoff tickets for me and my friends, where I didn't have enough money in my debit to do it but knew my friends were giving me the cash for it so I'd be able to pay it off on time.

    It's definitely a good idea to bring one when you are going abroad.. if you have an issue with your debit, you'll have a back up. And as long as you are paying it off on time, you won't get hit with any interest.

    Just make sure you get a card that has NO annual fee. As long as you have a limited credit history, and not a BAD credit history, you'll be fine. The banks aren't scared to give people with limited history a card, because everyone has to start somewhere. They just won't give them to people who have a history of not paying on time. As long as you pay it off on time each month, you will build up your credit, and then you can request them to raise your limit if you need to.
  11. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres
    A good idea is to take two cards as payment systems go down more often than most people realise,for instance I've been caught out because a UK system will go down for maintenance between 2-4 am their time which happens to be mid afternoon in NZ and not very useful if your trying to pay for dinner (this of course only applies to debit cards not credit ) it's also a good idea to give american express a miss a lot of places won't accept them.
  12. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Get one without foreign exchange fees. I've had the CapitalOne Venture Rewards program and have probably saved thousands of dollars over the years (I live and work abroad).
  13. atlanticza macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Cape Town
    Not sure in which country you live so I'm not sure what credit facilities are available. But some banks offer a card 'wallet' that you can pre-load with whatever amount you wish. You would simply retrieve cash from ATMs which are linked to PLUS, Cirrus or Maestro, etc, for example. Thomas Cook Cash Passport also offers a prepaid currency card offering a convenient way to carry and travel money overseas.

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