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Financial Friday: Credit Cards Tips for a Summer Abroad

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., Stetson University professor

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D.

When traveling or studying abroad, you want to make sure that you get the best bang for your buck. Don’t waste your precious resources on foreign transaction and ATM fees!

Here are the questions to ask your credit card company to make sure you are getting the best deal:

1.      What are the foreign transaction fees? (Best answer: “There are none.”) A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge that works like an extra sales tax on everything that you buy overseas. They can be up to 3 percent, or $30 if you spend $1,000.

2.      What are the international ATM fees? (Best answer: “There are none/we cover them.”) ATM fees overseas can be more expensive than in the U.S., but even some local banks have strong international partnerships that minimize these fees.

3.      Does my card have a chip? (Best answer: “Yes.”) European credit cards had chips before our cards in the U.S. did. If your card doesn’t have a chip, you may not be able to use it in some places like metro stations. Don’t be stranded; get a chip!

4.      What travel insurance features does my card have? (Best answer: “Travel protection AND travel insurance.”) Travel protection usually only reimburses you in extreme circumstances like illness or death of someone close to you. Travel insurance covers more circumstances, such as canceling a trip for work. In either case, medical costs are generally not covered. You would rely on your health insurance for that.

Credit cards that are associated with an airline often carry more perks, like free checked bags, priority boarding, waiving flight change fees, concierge services, discounts at hotels, restaurants, tours and rental cars, airport lounge access and discounted in-flight purchases. However, these often come with an annual fee. When using these services, ask if there is a fee for that particular service.  (Time to do the math!)

Once you know which card you want to travel with, let them know your dates and countries of travel. This will cut back on those inconvenient holds designed to prevent credit card fraud. Also, do the same for your backup credit card. Keep the account numbers on your phone in case it is lost or stolen.

Professor Valrie Chambers at Valrie.chambers@stetson.edu is responsible for the content of this message. This announcement is part of the Financial Friday series. Every Friday, students receive an announcement that is meant to bolster their financial wellness, including preventing financial mistakes, tips for safeguarding their assets including their financial identity and tips on how to critically think about financial decisions that need to be made.