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Travel Tips Money Matters A credit card while traveling: Do you really need it?

A credit card while traveling: Do you really need it?

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This post is also available in: Nederlands

Are you planning on making a trip to another country? You’ve probably already sorted out everything you want to do and see there. Maybe you even already checked out if you need a visa or vaccinations. But, did you already figure out if you need a credit card?

A debit card doesn’t always work and a lot of cash in your pocket might not be the safest solution. But does a credit card solve all those problems? Keep on reading and I will tell you what you use it for, advantages and disadvantages and how to use it in a safe way.

A credit card while traveling: Do you really need it?

What would you use a credit card for?

You might not be familiar with a credit card, but people around you are using it all the time. Maybe to do online purchases or to pay for their groceries in the supermarket. Credit cards are used all around the globe for a wide range of things.

That for, if you have a look on the internet, you might find all kinds of reasons that don’t interest you at all. To make it easy for you, below you find a couple of specific reasons when it comes in really handy to have a credit card when you are traveling.

  • Your Maestro debit card doesn’t always work. There are a lot of countries that do not accept Maestro. Not in shops, not in ATMs and not in hotels or restaurants or booking offices. It comes in very handy if you have a credit card that you can use to pay everywhere and anywhere!
  • Rental car. Even if you book your rental car in advance, they will still ask you for a credit card before you can actually pick up the car. This is to assure them that you are able to pay for certain costs in case you damage the car. The car rental company reserves a certain amount on your credit card, which they release if you turn in your car unharmed.
  • Visa. If you want to purchase a visa upon arrival, there is most likely no other payment method than with a credit card. Or cash, which you need to withdraw in an airport ATM with a… Credit card!
  • Online bookings. A lot of foreign companies only accept credit cards for online payments. Think of flight tickets, excursions, hotels, etc.

So, that were a couple of reasons to get a credit card before you start traveling around. It just makes your life a lot easier and a lot less stressful in certain situations. But there is more!

Use your Credit Card in a cafe
Rent a car

The advantages of a credit card

A credit card isn’t just a must-have during your travels to be able to pay for things when you can’t use your debit card, there is much more!

Such a little piece of plastic offers more opportunities, like:

  • You can go to a lot more ATM’s to get cash. Most ATMs accept many different types of credit cards. Also, credit cards are a worldwide accepted payment method in shops, supermarkets and restaurants.
  • For purchases made with your credit card, you are often insured if the product gets stolen, if you lose it or if it gets damaged within the first 180 days.
  • With some companies, you can save points, which you can use later on to reduce your purchase amount. Or, you can use them to get a cheap flight ticket to your next destination!
  • It is much safer than having a lot of cash in your pocket. If your cash gets stolen, you’ve lost it and you will never see it back. If your credit card gets stolen and is used by someone else, you often get your money back.
  • You have the possibility to pay afterwards. When you don’t have any balance left, you can still use your credit card to pay for things. If you spend a little too much, you can also repay your debt in terms.

It all depends a bit on the company or bank you have your credit card with. But definitely check out their terms and conditions to know all the advantages of using your credit card for certain purchases!

Use a credit card to get cash anywhere in the world
bank notes and credit card

Public Transport get you anywhere with Rome2Rio


The disadvantages of a credit card

Although I’ve discussed all the good things about a credit card with you, I also want to mention some disadvantages you might experience using your credit card.

  • Withdrawing costs. Costs can be high when you withdraw a lot of money. Credit card companies often charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw.
  • Fraud sensitive. Credit cards can easily be abused by others. If you use your credit card for a transaction on an open Wifi network or if your card is skimmed in an ATM.
  • You can easily lose the overview of your expenses. You can keep on paying with your credit card until the limit is reached.

People call the above disadvantages but keep in mind that without a credit card you might not even be able to withdraw cash or purchase tickets online. And when it comes to fraud, a regular debit card can be skimmed as well.

Anyway, if you really struggle with these points, there is a good solution for you! Keep on reading!

The best option for a travel card

If you didn’t like all the disadvantages of a credit card, there is a very good solution for you! The TransferWise credit card.

Transferwise debit card

With the borderless account from TransferWise you can open a bank account in any currency. So, if you withdraw money or pay in a shop, the local currency is used. This means you pay zero payment fees and zero conversion rate!

You receive a credit card free of charge. This card is a debit card, which means you can only spend the money that you actually have on your account. In this way, you can keep track of your expenses, with all the advantages of a regular credit card!

Another very handy feature is that you can block your card when you don’t use it with the user-friendly app. Unblock it when you want to use it, block it right after. This way no one has access to your money, even not when it is skimmed!

TIP: Create an account on TransferWise now to be able to receive your credit card. Sign up via this link on TransferWise and as a bonus, your first money transfer up to around US$650 will be 100% transferfee free!

Do you really need a credit card while traveling?

I hope that in the meanwhile it became clear that you need a credit card when you go traveling. Maestro is not a worldwide accepted payment method and money is something you will need everywhere you go.

So, if you want to have the freedom to go where you want to go and to do what you want to do, yes, you should really get a credit card.

Get cash in any currency

Tips for using your credit card

If I convinced you to get a credit card, because it makes traveling so much easier, here are some tips for using your credit card in a safe way. Check out these tips especially if you decide to get a regular credit card, because the TransferWise card will help you to keep your money save anyway!

  • Keep track of your expenses. To avoid getting into debts, make sure you only spend the amount with your credit card which you can allow yourself to spend. I know that during a holiday everything gets a bit loose and spending money goes a lot easier. But getting back from holiday and getting a bill you can’t pay, is not the best welcome-home present!
  • Always pay in the local valuta. Sometimes when you pay with your card, the pin device asks you if you want to pay in the local valuta or the valuta you know from home. Always choose to pay in the local valuta, as the conversion rate in the pin device is most likely even higher than the conversion rate of your bank!
  • Avoid making payments on an open Wifi network. These networks aren’t protected and everyone has access to your data. This makes it really easy for hackers to use your money for their next payment!
  • Use inside-bank ATMs only. These ATMs are guarded by cameras and often also by a guard-in-person. This makes it very hard for skimmers to add their tools to such an ATM, which makes them safer to get your cash without being skimmed.

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We love to hear from you

Hopefully, this blog post has helped you to decide whether you need a credit card or not for your next trip. If you have experience using a (travel) credit card or if you have a question, please leave a comment below.

Kelly Kap
Living the dream is my motto! I like outdoor adventure, volunteering, nature, exploring new cultures! I'm always seeking new challenges and new places to discover. Travelling was always my biggest passion since I was a kid! I like to inspire people to stop dreaming and start living their dreams!

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