The best method of payment for travelers is the credit card or the debit card. A small plastic piece is so much easier to hide than a large amount of cash. You are not worried about your money being stolen while napping for a moment on the train, bus or during your flight from one major city to another. Paying with plastic is safe in most places, like in the restaurants, or in the hotels. Although paying with plastic makes a traveler’s life easier, there are certain details that you must take in consideration before starting your journey.
Here are some tips:
1. Inform your bank that you will use your card abroad
Sometimes banks block cards automatically when a credit/debit card is suddenly used abroad. While working in a hotel I had so many guests being confronted with this problem. They had to call their bank and ask for their card to be unlocked. Crazy, right? But hey, the bank was just trying to protect their clients interests.
2. Get cards from different banks
It’s best to have credit/debit cards from at least two different banks, just in case one fails to work or is not accepted. I was surprised that in some regular supermarkets in Germany Visa was not accepted, but MasterCard was preferred, while American Express was almost useless throughout Europe.
3. Make digital copies of your credit card/debit cards and passport
Just in case your cards and your passport are stolen, it is advisable to have a digital copy on a USB flash drive. You can encrypt the information as a way of extra security. You should also copy a bank statement with your bank account number. These information will come handy in case you will need to block your credit/debit card. Which brings me to the next tip.
4. Write on a piece of paper the toll free phone number for your credit/debit card provider in each of the countries you plan to visit
It is good to have the phone numbers in your mobile phone, but keep in mind that the mobile might be the first thing to be stolen from you, together with your camera. So, it is best to have the phone numbers on an old, good fashioned piece of paper, too.
Finally, paying with plastic comes of course pretty handy, but it’s better to always have some cash in your wallet, for that special occasion when a good bargain comes along, but only cash is accepted.