Travelling with a credit card

Travelling with a credit card
About this post

When you head overseas for a well-deserved holiday, rest and relaxation will be on your mind. Between sleeping in and sampling local delicacies, there's plenty to look forward to when on holiday.

But don't forget about the practicalities, such as choosing the right credit card to take with you.

Tap into loyalty schemes - but be wary

Research from Deloitte shows just that 93 percent of consumers will happily share details with airlines and hotels about their travel preferences, while just 32 percent are willing to share information about hobbies and only 28 percent will disclose geo-location details.

"Frequent travellers are often the most valuable customer segment for hotels and airlines," said Charles Carrington, Deloitte Partner and author of the study.

While it always pays to be careful with your personal information, signing up to credit card-related loyalty schemes could help you snap up travel deals, from accommodation to airfares. Make sure you always read privacy policies before you sign up to schemes, so you know what will happen to your personal information.

Run a credit card comparison

When sorting out your holiday finances, a credit card comparison can go a long way.

There are plenty of factors to bear in mind, from interest rates to annual card fees. When you're picking a credit card for overseas use, one of your biggest concerns will be the foreign exchange rate for overseas purchases. Using ATMs overseas can also be incredibly costly or almost entirely free, depending on which card you select - so choose carefully.

Some lenders offer travel-specific products, which are certainly worth investigating. If you're jumping between countries, a travel card with pre-determined exchange rates can give you peace of mind.

Related stories

Use your card smartly

Whether you're on a frugal trip or spending up a storm, there's no point raking up the dollars on fees you could otherwise avoid.

When choosing a card, opt for one that offers relatively low fees or none at all - but be wary of any trade-offs, such as a higher interest rate, which could sting you when you have to make repayments on your return.

Make sure you're using your card smartly when you're overseas. For instance, try and limit your ATM withdrawals — get out cash in bulk and put one-third in your wallet and the remaining two-thirds in a hotel safe. 

Avoid using your credit card when paying for snacks and small gifts — using cash means fewer transaction fees, and it's often the preferred means of payment in many countries, too.

Take a spare card

It's always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so make sure you've got a spare credit card in case your principal one goes missing or is stolen. 

Always store your back-up card in a different location. For instance, if you keep your main card on yourself or in your carry-on bag, place your spare card in a secure spot in your main luggage.

It's also a good idea to have a range of different money options with you, just in case a hotel or shop only takes cash and the  local ATM's is down.

Manage your post holiday credit card debt

A lot of travellers return from epic trip overseas with a bad case of Mondayistis and an even more severe case of credit card blues.  One way to lessen the blow over a number of months is by transferring your debt on to a balance transfer card.  These cards typically offer 0% interest on your credit card bill for a set period of time, which can run up to two years.  Just check for any big fees and charges and formulate an iron-clad plan to pay it off before the deal expires.  Otherwise you'll be hit with a hefty interest bill.


RateCity's picks - top credit cards to use overseas

Bankwest's Zero Platinum MasterCard has no annual fee, no or currency conversion fees, which are typically charged at around 3 per cent, and up to 180 days of travel insurance.

GE Money's 28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard also has no annual fees or currency conversion fees, however it does have a slightly higher interest rate at 20.99% so make sure you are on top of your repayments.

Related links

This is an information service. By browsing on the website and/or using our search tools, you are asking RateCity to provide you with information about products from multiple financial institutions. We will try to show you a range of products in response to your request for information. The search results do not include all providers and may not compare all features relevant to you, for further details refer to our FSCG. The rating shown is only one factor to take into account when considering these products. We are not a credit provider, and in giving you product information we are not making any suggestion or recommendation to you about a particular credit product. If you decide to apply for a product, you will deal directly with a financial institution, and not with RateCity. Rates and product information should be confirmed with the relevant financial institution, and you should review the PDS before you decide to purchase. See our terms of use for further details. This advice is general and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Consider whether this advice is right for you.