Ensuring that you keep credit cards safe while traveling abroad can be more difficult than it sounds. The last thing you want to happen while in a foreign country is to lose your credit card. The convenience of a credit card is easy to see, as it means you can avoid having to convert cash (something which would become incredibly tedious if you were stopping in multiple countries). I’ve compiled this list of quick credit card security tips to ensure that you have done all that you can to protect credit cards while traveling. But, if the worst should happen, these pointers should also help you save much time and stress.
1. Find Somewhere to Note down Your Card Information
One extremely valuable credit card security tip is to note down all of your card details so that, in the event of a theft or loss of your cards, you will at least have the information on the cards to notify your credit card issuer of your dilemma. Credit Card companies use this information as proof of identity, so in the case of a theft or misplacement of your card, having a back-up of that information can be vital, and save you the hassle of a lot of very frustrating phone calls! Remember though – don’t keep the info in your wallet.
2. Make Sure You Have a ‘Chip-and-PIN’ Card
Most countries in Europe have a ‘Chip-and-PIN’ system installed as added credit card security for card owners – in some countries it is the only way debit and credit cards are accepted. These machines will only work with cards that have a chip installed yet many US issued cards do not utilize this technology. Be sure to check that the credit card you are bringing along for the journey can work in these machines, or else you may find payment very difficult! (See point 3 also)
3. Have Your Passport with You Constantly
If you end up in a European country having to pay for something with a chip-less credit card, most stores and merchants will accept these cards if you have your passport with you to prove your identity. It also makes it easier if you find yourself heading to the local police station to report a stolen card.
4. Inform Your Card Issuer
One of the most useful credit card security tips is to tell your card issuers and bank that you are traveling – of more import if you are going abroad. This will stop them from locking your card, thinking that fraudulent activity is being committed in another country with the information on your card. It also saves the embarrassment of your payment being declined when you hand it over to pay for that must have Gucci clutch in Milan.
5. Collect All of Your Receipts
Out of all the credit card security tips, this is one of the most obvious. By collecting all of your receipts from stores and attractions, or anything paid for by your credit card, you are ensuring that you have evidence of all of your spending, so that when you get back home and that statement comes through, you can make sure that it all adds up.
6. Only Bring a Few Credit Cards along with You
The more credit cards you have, the worse it will be if you, say, lose your wallet or purse. Make sure you don’t travel with all of your credit cards, only the cards you will need. The more cards you lose, the more time you will spend trying to sort out the misplacement or theft of each individual card, and the less time you will have for sightseeing. As far as these credit card security tips go, this one can make the difference between losing a few hours of your holiday to losing a couple of days.
7. Be Wary of ATMs
High on the list of pieces of advice for credit card security is to watch out for dodgy ATMs. Recent scams in Europe have included the installation of miniature cameras above ATM keypads, allowing criminals to see your PIN number. When using an ATM, always ensure that you cover the keypad as you type your PIN number to prevent giving criminals an extra tool with which they can access your bank account. There have also been card ‘skimming’ scams, where a device is used to read your card’s information as it is inserted into the machine. ATMs that are a part of large banks are the safest to use as opposed to individual ATMs that are easier targets.
Hopefully, these credit card security tips have helped you to become more aware of the lurking dangers of using your cards abroad without making you too paranoid! Generally, it is important to remember that the vast majority of people do not experience problems with their credit cards, but it is always worth keeping these things in mind just in case.
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