When traveling abroad, cash is definitely a viable option. Almost every merchant on the planet accepts local currencies for standard transactions.
However, it’s a mistake to finance your entire trip with paper money:
This is why experienced travelers take their credit cards with them. Doing so helps them avoid many of the above drawbacks. Plus, traveling with plastic offers numerous benefits as you’ll see below.
However, relying exclusively on credit cards also has certain disadvantages, as well.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using a credit card when traveling abroad.
Probably the most important hurdle is that some smaller international merchants operate cash-only businesses. Street vendors, concession stands, and even some taxis all fall into this category. Your Visa and Mastercard may be useless for these types of transactions.
Here are some additional strikes against cards:
Now let’s look at some of the major benefits of card-based transactions when traveling.
All of the following assumes that you have a chip-enabled EMV credit card. As already mentioned, older magnetic strip cards don’t work abroad in most cases.
Here are the primary benefits of using your credit card as much as possible:
Before you go, it’s important to call your card-issuing bank in advance and let it know about your travel plans. Otherwise, your credit card could get flagged for suspicious activity.
In the event you don’t contact your bank prior to your departure and your card does get declined, your card-issuing bank might simply suspend the account. Although in some cases, your credit card could be canceled completely. It’s very difficult to ship a replacement when you’re on the other side of the world.
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1 “What is a foreign transaction fee?” Creditcards.com, 23 December 2019Additional Source: “Pros and Cons of Traveling With a Credit Card,” The Travel, 15 July 2019
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