dcsimg

5 Tips for Traveling Around the World on Your Credit Cards

By , Editor-in-chief

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

5 Tips for Traveling Around the World on Your Credit Cards

Not long ago, it was hard to find anyone at an airport flashing anything other than a corporate American Express card. It was also hard to find airfare under $200. Today, competition among credit card companies for frequent travelers has made perks and bonus programs commonplace. Discount travel options make it more affordable for families and other infrequent travelers to get out on the road more often. Blending both of these trends means saving big bucks on your next road trip, as long as you follow five simple tips:

#1: Imagine Your Worst Case Credit Card Scenario

American Express built their brand on convenience for business travelers. That often meant guaranteeing that a replacement for a lost or stolen credit card could arrive at your hotel within about a day. Not every card issuer can live up to that promise, so plan to carry a mix of cards to minimize your risk:

  • Carry two credit cards on your trip, but not in the same place. If pickpockets boost your wallet, a backup card stashed in your carry-on can keep your journey going.
  • Don't carry the same credit card you use to pay household bills. A fraud alert on that account could mean your lights and water won't work when you get home. Ask your credit card issuer for a secondary card with a different account number, or open a dedicated card just for travel.
  • Ask your hotel how much they intend to hold on your credit card for insurance and incidentals. An overzealous front desk clerk can eliminate your available credit with a single swipe.
  • Write down the local emergency contact numbers for each of the credit cards you intend to bring, especially if your bank requires you to collect call a special overseas phone line.

Preparing for an emergency saves you the money you'd have to spend on emergency cash transfers, phone calls, and overlimit fees.

#2: Let Your Credit Cards Help You Plan Your Trip

Many travel rewards credit cards now offer travel planning and concierge services as special perks for customers. Basic credit cards often feature online travel discounts run through well-known partner Websites. You can often find special bargains or exclusive access opportunities, especially if your travel plans are flexible. Frequent travelers with higher status can call special concierge teams, who can hunt down special deals or make personal reservations with a card issuers' preferred providers.

#3: Maximize Your Affinity Credit Card Rewards

Marketing relationships between the banking and travel industries have become so close, it's nearly impossible to make a trip without getting some kind of credit card offer or frequent traveler invitation. Even if you don't travel very often, the savings you can enjoy from affinity programs really add up:

  • Travel rewards credit card offers give miles toward air travel when you meet eligible spend, may include mileage bonuses when you pay for your ticket with their preferred card.
  • Hotel credit cards tempt you with bonus room upgrades, special in-room treats, and discounts on resort amenities.
  • AAA-affiliated credit cards extend deeper discounts on meals, attraction tickets, and local transportation.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to qualify for a cash back credit card, you can earn between 1-5% as a rebate on every trip-related purchase.

#4: Scoop Up Last Minute or Advance Deals with 0% APR Credit Cards

The travel industry charges a premium for urgency. Expect to pay more if you've positively got to be somewhere on a certain date. However, travelers with flexible plans can use their credit cards to get huge discounts on airfares and hotel rooms. A host of websites track daily deals on resort stays with a simple catch: you pay for your trip in advance instead of at check-out. Float the upfront charge on a 0% teaser rate credit card that isn't due until your trip has ended, and you'll get the best deal without any strain on your bank account.

#5: Eliminate Foreign Transaction Hassles

Traveling overseas used to mean getting gouged at the currency exchange counter. Competition among credit card issuers has streamlined the process of spending money abroad, especially now that merchants in most major cities accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Cards from Capital One and Pentagon Federal Credit Union feature no foreign transaction fees. You can even use your hotel's Internet kiosk to transfer cash from your bank account to your credit card balance, freeing up your credit line if you happen to spend too much.

Following all five of these steps may add a little complexity to your travel planning. However, you'll feel better about your obsession when you save up to half off the price of your airline tickets, hotel rooms, and restaurant meals.

0 Comments

Be the first to comment!

Start Here

Search. Compare. Apply.

Featured Partner Cards

loading
  How is your credit?
Oops! Your credit does not qualify you for this card. Applying and being rejected for this card could possibly hurt your credit
We are redirecting you to offers you are qualified for based on your credit.
720-850
Excellent
660-719
Good
600-659
Fair
350-599
Poor
X
CardRatings is excited to announce the launch of the
100% Free CardRatings Email Course to Learn How to Maximize Travel Rewards.

Created in partnership with ChooseFI

We partnered with ChooseFI to combine CardRatings’ offer expertise with ChooseFI’s tried and true travel rewards strategies. Get to know ChooseFI: they have changed tens of thousands of lives and recently won Podcast of the Year at FinCon.
You may think you are a rewards travel expert, but rewards strategies are changing (e.g., the days of card churning and manufactured spending are numbered). Learn powerful, sustainable strategies (a couple of which even you die-hard travel experts might not know). You'll be so glad you did.
We're planning more courses for the future; this is just the beginning of our journey.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY: