Few life experiences are as fun or memorable as studying abroad. Of course, the process can also be a bit daunting if you’ve never traveled to a foreign country before. If you use a credit card abroad, you may realize you have built-in benefits that will help you to enjoy your trip without having to worry about your finances.
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1. Ditch Foreign Transaction Fees
Making purchases with your credit card in another country can be pricey. Many credit cards charge a fee (1% – 3%) for foreign transactions whenever you make purchases with your credit card. 1 But some credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees so you don’t rack up extra charges while making purchases.
2. Protect Your Cash
Carrying around a lot of cash while sightseeing is never a great idea. Not only is your money susceptible to theft, there’s always the chance you could simply lose it. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
If your card is stolen you should contact your credit card issuer. Some credit card issuers do not hold you liable for unauthorized transactions on your credit card account. Plus, many credit card issuers employ EMV technology, which makes using your credit card at chip-enabled terminals more secure.
3. Earn Miles for Your Next Adventure
Using a rewards credit card can make your daily spending pay off. Some travel rewards cards, for instance, will pay a percentage of your spending back to you in the form of miles. 2 Now that you’re a seasoned traveler, you can use those miles to jet off on a trip after graduation.
4. Exchange Rates
Finally, exchange rates on credit cards are usually less expensive than other alternatives—personal finance site NerdWallet found that “credit card currency conversion rates were pretty true to form,” and lack the additional markups you’ll often find at ATMs or the airport.
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More Tips for Using Your Card Abroad:
- Alert your issuer: Before heading off on your trip, contact your credit card issuer to let them know when you’re leaving and where you are going. This prevents your card from being frozen due to suspected fraud.
- Carry a backup: It’s always good to have an extra credit card on hand. Not all cards are accepted everywhere. As a student, you might not have much of a credit history yet, and therefore, have a fairly low credit limit. Additionally, there’s always a chance your card could be flagged for suspicious activity, even if you called your issuer ahead of time.
- Be wary of exchange fees: It’s common for some European merchants to charge you for converting their prices to U.S. dollars before running your card. “Dynamic currency conversion” 3 might seem like a perk, but it may only make swiping your card more expensive than necessary. Consider declining this service.
- Track spending: Remember, you have to pay off your credit card bill each month, so don’t spend recklessly. Sign up for online banking and keep tabs on your daily spending so you don’t go over budget.