Do I Need to Let the Credit Card Company Know I'm Going Abroad?

Credit cards are a secure way to pay for travel thanks to built-in protections.
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If you’re about to set off for a globe-trotting adventure, take care of important details before you leave. Paying for ongoing travel expenses by credit card is one option. If you do decide to use credit cards while traveling abroad, notify the credit card issuers before you leave to make sure you don’t have problems.

Travel Notification

About a week before your departure date, call the credit card issuers for the cards you intend to take along on your trip and give them an overview of your itinerary. Not providing prior travel notification places you at risk for an emergency freeze once you begin using your credit card(s) internationally. Credit card issuers monitor account activity and will typically freeze an account if unexpected or unusual activity occurs. A slew of charges coming from unusual locations is usually enough to set this freeze in motion.

Ask Questions

As you notify the credit card company about your upcoming travel, ask some questions about using the card internationally. For example, find out if your card is accepted in the countries you'll be visiting. Ask about fees associated with international travel because sometimes credit card companies charge additional transaction fees for foreign travel. Consider requesting a credit card with chip and PIN technology, if available. This technology can provide greater credit card acceptance internationally.

Online Account Access

As you travel abroad with your credit card, it’s helpful to have access to your account via the Internet. Set up online access to your account before you leave through the credit card issuer’s website. Once you have online banking established, you can monitor charges to make sure no errors occur. If problems arise, you can also contact the credit card company through online chat. In addition, you can inform the company of changes to your itinerary to avoid an account freeze and report problems more quickly.

Protection Against Loss

Paying for travel expenses with a credit card provides you with effective protection against loss and theft. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects you from loss from fraudulent charges to your credit card. If you lose your credit card or have it stolen, report the loss to the credit card company as soon as possible. You will not be responsible for more than $50 in unauthorized charges. Simplify your travel by copying your financial information, such as account numbers and telephone numbers, on an encrypted USB flash drive. If you need access to this information, you will have it with you.

Exchange Rates

Using a credit card abroad simplifies exchange rates because the credit card transaction will automatically convert the charge amount to U.S. dollars by the time you see it on your account statement. It’s common for the exchange rate you receive from credit card purchases to be more favorable than other rates you might find.

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