Before you take out your credit card or ATM card when you are traveling overseas, be sure to do some research. Banks may have hidden charges that will impact how you choose to use your credit cards and ATM cards once you leave the country. Where will travelers get the best exchange rate when getting local currency? When traveling overseas, these three tips will help you get the most out of your credit card or bank’s ATM card.
Withdraw money from an ATM machine upon arrival.
Don’t waste time getting pounds or lira before you leave the United States. Though your bank might not charge you to convert money (but many will), you may have to order the currency and then go back to pick it up at a later date. Don’t bother taking out money from a currency exchange station at the airport either. Their rates are typically higher than the current exchange rate and they will charge you a transaction fee. Instead of taking out money from your bank or an exchange station in the airport, use your ATM card to take money out of a ATM once you arrive. Banks typically offer the best exchange rate, and popular European banks such as HSBC don’t charge a withdrawal fee. Even if your bank charges you a small fee for an overseas withdrawal (you can contact them to find out how much) it is still a better deal to take out currency overseas in this manner.
Contact your credit card company before you leave the country.
Banks and credit card companies will charge you an additional fee to make purchases while overseas. Contacting them in advance allows you to keep that charge in mind and plan accordingly when using a credit card. Some credit card companies will charge you up to 3% for using your card overseas, while others may waive the charge or only charge 1%. In addition, by contacting the company and letting them know that you will be out of the country, you avoid any hassles that might occur if they see the overseas transactions and wrongly assume that your card has been stolen.
Notify retailers that your credit card is from America before you make a purchase.
Some countries have moved to chipped credit cards. Individuals place the card in a card reader, and then key in a pin number to finalize the charge. No signing is required. If you are using a credit card from America overseas, be sure to let the retailer know that they’ll need to swipe the card and you’ll need to sign for it. Many retailers are unfamiliar with this process, and as a result, will closely verify your signature on the back or ask for photo identification as well.
Travelers can avoid hassles with credit cards, ATM cards, and banks by planning ahead and following these three tips.