Money Matters - Simplified

Getting a Travel Card? Watch Out For These

A travel card can be very handy while on travel, but you need to avoid the pitfalls to get the best out of it.
Tell your provider you will be using your credit card overseas. Some companies will block cards if there has been an unexpected purchase in a foreign company.

When traveling around the world the last thing you want to think about is money.
Unfortunately, the dirty little paper notes, coins, and plastic cards are what takes us to our dream destinations.

Without these vital travel tools the closest we'd get to magical islands or mind-boggling cities would be through magazines in office waiting rooms.

Fortunately, finance companies and banks are on the same level as those with itchy feet and have created travel credit cards, making it easy for you to fulfill your dreams without the financial pain.

If you're anything like me, you're probably way too busy (and excited) organizing your next adventure to even think about what the best credit card is for you while traveling. But I can't stress enough about how important it is to research before you fly.

While traveling around China recently, I was hit in the face with my lack of knowledge of using credit cards overseas. I was strolling around Shanghai when I spotted a genuine wooden Mahjong game set which my Dad had been hunting for during our entire holiday. So being the thoughtful daughter I am, I grabbed it, took it to the old Chinese lady sitting behind a cash register, pulled out my card, swiped it, punched in the pin and DECLINED!

What!? It couldn't be possible so I tried it again. Declined. I was left puzzled over why I couldn't use my card and dad was left without his Mahjong set.

Once I returned home I found out the card wasn't compatible in shop machines, however I was able to withdrawal cash from a hole in the wall at the cost of a huge fee.

Here's what to look out for when getting a travel card
Apply for a travel credit card which earns air points and rewards the more you travel.

For example, the bmi American Express Card gives you 20,000 bonus destinations miles when you spend 250 within the first 90 days.

The likelihood of spending 250 in 6 weeks while shopping in Beijing or soaking up the nightlife in Ibiza is very high. Therefore this would be an ideal card to gain rewards.

Make sure you ask your credit card dealer what ALL the fees are (withdrawal, penalties, interest rate). Often companies will have quite a high withdrawal fee so I recommend using your card in shops or take out a large sum of cash so the fee justifies the withdrawal.

Find out the policies on transferring money onto the card. Some companies allow you to load money onto your card at a fixed exchange rate which is fantastic if you secure a high rate. But you may get stung in the tail when you want to add more money onto the card.

It's a good idea to get a second card just in case you lose one. Keep one in your wallet and one in a safe place at the hotel.

Tell your provider you will be using your credit card overseas. Some companies will block cards if there has been an unexpected purchase in a foreign company. This will create huge problems and added stress while on holiday, so it's best to let your provider know.

Then it's just a case of sitting back and enjoying your holiday, leaving all your worries and stresses behind!

By Sandra Waldorf