Proven Tips And Tactics To Protect Your Credit Card While You Travel
It’s almost impossible to travel without a credit card. Most thieves know this. This makes you particularly vulnerable to fraud and theft while traveling. This information can help protect you.
Vigilance and some forethought can protect you from credit card fraud schemes.
Thieves know that if they make purchases similar to a traveler, they can use your card number for quite a while undetected. This is especially true if they acquire just your card number while you retain the card.
Travel Tips To Protect You
- Make Copies. Before you go on your trip, make copies of your credit cards, passport, tickets, and any other important documents. Copy both sides if there is pertinent information on the back. For example, most cards have the phone numbers to report loss of theft on the back. If you lose the card, the number you need was lost with it.
If your card is lost or stolen and you don’t have a copy of the number, you’ll spend lots of aggravating time on the phone trying to straighten things out. This can get very expensive if you are on an international trip. This is not an enjoyable part of travel.
Keep these copies separate from the originals. While some people recommend keeping these in your luggage, I don’t. Someone could find them, copy them and return them without you ever knowing it.
It’s also a good idea to blacken out some of the pertinent information on the copies. Blacken your name and the expiration date. Remember the expiration date or record it separately.
- Have Two Different Credit Cards With You. If your wallet is stolen, the more cards you had, the more you must deal with. If your wallet is stolen, your liability is $50 for each card. Why carry ten if two will do?
The reason that you want more than one credit card with you is if there is a problem with the only one that you have, you’re stuck.
I know this from experience.
I was checking into a hotel for a week long ski trip using my only credit card. It didn’t go through. This is how I first found out that I was the victim of identity theft. As a precaution, my card company had deactivated the card. I’m glad that they did, but I was stuck with high expenses, not much cash and no backup. It was a weekend, so I had to wait a few days before they could get me a replacement card.
This is especially complicated if your travel agenda involves many different destinations. You’ll have to settle the bills when you leave each hotel and you could misconnect with the FedEx delivery of your replacement credit cards.
As a security measure, some card companies automatically cut off cards if they are used more than six times a day. Another automatic cutoff is if they are suddenly being used in a foreign country. This is a great security measure to stop credit card fraud, but if you’re using it on your “dream vacation”, this cutoff could be a problem.
It’s best to notify your credit card company that you will be traveling overseas.
- Have Different Credit Cards Than Your Spouse. My parents learned this the hard way. They were on an extended trip and my father’s wallet was stolen.
They had one of those services where you could make one call to report the credit card theft. The service then took care of notifying all the credit card companies. They were pleased with the simplicity that this provided. They thought that they everything was taken care of and that their problems were over. My mother still had her purse and credit cards. They were surprised at dinner that night because my mother’s credit card was also deactivated. Since they had all their credit cards in joint accounts, all hers were also reported as stolen and deactivated by the service.
- Make Sure You Have a Four Digit (Not Six) PIN Number. Most foreign ATMs are set up for four digit and not six digit PINs.
ATMs are the best way to exchange money while traveling. Most will take credit cards. You can withdraw funds in the foreign currency. Many credit card companies do not charge a fee for this and you get a better exchange rate than if you used traveler’s checks or a currency exchange.
This is the best way to get money in foreign countries. As airline crewmembers, this is the only way we do it. Gone are the days of waiting in line at the hotel or bank, paying a fee and getting a poor exchange rate.
A few years ago, my wife and I took a cruise in Europe. This was before much of Europe went to the single currency (EURO). We went to a different country almost every day.
The ship had a currency exchange office. I watched in amazement as people stood in long lines each morning to exchange their money. They paid a service fee plus got a lousy exchange rate. Then they would stand in the line again that night exchanging back what they didn’t spend. More fees and poor rate.
My wife and I simply used our credit card in any of the many ATMs we found. No fees. Good rate.
- Don’t Give Out Your Credit Number On The Phone. Here’s a common credit card fraud scheme: you arrive late and tired and check into your hotel. After you’re settled in and going to bed, your phone rings. The caller identifies himself as someone form the front desk. There is a problem with your credit card. They need you to confirm your credit number and expiration date. Don’t give it to them.
Tell them that you will come down later and give it to them in person.
Often credit card thieves lurk in the hotel lobbies trying to get names and room numbers of people checking-in. If your luggage has visible identification tags, your name is very easy to acquire. If you have your address on the luggage tags, you are also telling the world that you are not home at that address.
Think about what is usually said aloud when you check into a hotel. Your name, and often your room number. It is difficult to avoid your name being said aloud during check-in, but your room number should be kept secret.
If the front desk staff mentions it aloud, to you or the bellman, ask for a different room and explain why.
I hope that this information will help ensure a great trip for you.
At Pilot Paul’s Travel Accessories, our desire is to help make you a relaxed, seasoned, savvy, well-informed, well-equipped traveler. This should allow you to have the best travel experience possible.
Travel Informed + Travel Well Equipped = Travel Wisely and Relaxed