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

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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, disadvantages, and how to use it in a safe way.

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 at the supermarket. Credit cards are used all around the globe for a wide range of things.

If you have a look online, you might find all kinds of reasons a credit card doesn’t interest you. To make it easy for you, below you will find a couple of specific ways credit cards come in handy when you are traveling.

  • Your Mastercard debit card doesn’t always work. There are a lot of countries that do not accept Mastercard. Shops, ATMs, hotels, restaurants, and booking offices all may not accept Mastercard. So it comes in handy if you have a credit card that you can use 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 the car unharmed.
  • Visa. If you want to purchase a visa upon arrival, the easiest way to quickly buy your visa is with a credit card. With cash, you may struggle to find an ATM or at least one that will exchange your cash at a decent rate. Airport cash exchanges are notorious for charging a higher exchange rate than what should really be owed.
  • Online bookings. A lot of foreign companies only accept credit cards for online payments. Think flight tickets, excursions, hotels, etc.

So, there are 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!

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 so 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. Credit cards are a worldwide accepted payment method in shops, supermarkets, and restaurants.
  • For purchases made with your credit card, most credit cards offer some type of insurance 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 to reduce your purchase amount. For example, 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 again. If your credit card gets stolen and is used by someone else, you often get your money back.
  • You have the possibility to pay later. 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 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!

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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. This can happen if you use your credit card for a transaction on an open Wifi network or it can be skimmed at an ATM.
  • You can easily lose track 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 another good solution! Keep on reading!

The best option for a travel card

If you didn’t like all the disadvantages of a credit card, there is another option 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 type of 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 aren’t using it with the user-friendly app. Unblock it when you want to use it, then block it right after. This way no one has access to your money, even if it gets 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% transfer fee-free!

Do you really need a credit card while traveling?

I hope it became clear that you need a credit card when you travel. Mastercard 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 safe always!

  • Keep track of your expenses. To avoid going into debt, make sure you only use your credit card when you would be comfortable spending the cash. I know that during a trip everything gets a bit loose and spending money gets a lot easier. But getting back from a trip and getting a bill you can’t pay, is not the best welcome-home present!
  • Always pay in the local currency. Sometimes when you pay with your card, the pin device asks you if you want to pay in the local currency or the currency from home. Always choose to pay in the local currency, 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 have an in-person-guard. This makes it very hard for skimmers to add their tools to an ATM. Which in return, 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.

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