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Can You Use A Credit Card Abroad ?

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This is certainly a question that you want to answer before you travel, and that’s why we decided to tackle it. Can you use your credit card abroad? The short answer is yes, but there are a couple of things that you’re going to want to know before you travel. If you’re already abroad and you’ve had your credit card declined, there are a few things that you can do to bypass the issue. It’s likely that your credit card company is the one blocking the purchase. This is mainly due to the fact that you’re making a purchase outside of your typical shopping range. Yes, your location is something that your credit card company monitors, and it’s actually for a good cause, and not as creepy as it may sound. 

Improper use of your credit card abroad can lead to heftier bills! The truth is a lot of these things that we’re going to be talking about in this article are situations that you may not even know about and that you may have to get burned a couple of times on to understand. Lucky for all those of you who are reading this article about can you use your credit card abroad, we’ve already been burned over the years, and because of that we want to share our experiences with you. Yes, this article isn’t necessarily on a topic that we tend to cover on a regular basis. However, we figured that it’s going to contain important traveler information that we would certainly like to pass on to our readers. With this in mind let’s get going with, “Can I Use My Credit Card Abroad”. 

Can I Use My Credit Card Abroad – Let The Bank Know You’re Traveling 

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You may be one of those people who aren’t necessarily keen on letting other people know that you’re taking a trip. There are certainly good reasons for keeping these types of things private, we’re not going to get into that. If you want to be able to use your credit card abroad though, you may want to let your bank know that you’re going to be traveling. Why do we say this? Well as we’ve mentioned banks are going to recognize your location thanks to the device that you’re trying to insert the card into. If the device seems to be a location where the bank would deem odd for you to make a purchase it’ll likely block your purchase. 

There are two ways to get around this issue. You can let the bank know that you’re making a trip abroad. Literally call the credit card provider and give them a heads up. This may seem odd these days, the last thing that people want to do is call anyone. You may be one of those people that wants to manage everything through the app. This may be one of those instances though where a call may not be the worst idea. 

The other way that you’re going to be able to bypass this blockade is by calling your credit card provider from the store to prove that it is in fact you who is looking to make the purchase. If you haven’t purchased a local SIM card or don’t have a travel pass active to make the call this could be a real problem. Be sure to read through some of the other articles on the site to hatch up a plan to get cell coverage abroad.    

Make Sure That Your Type of Card Is Accepted At The Location

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This is probably a piece of advice that is better suited for American Express or Discover Card holders. A lot of times though, people are so used to their card being widely accepted in their daily life that they forget that they may be carrying a piece of plastic that isn’t going to be as widely accepted in other parts of the world. What’s a good rule of thumb to figure out if your card is going to be accepted or not? You never want to be an elitist, but where you travel and where you dine are important indicators that you should look into. 

We talk about this quite a bit with regards to cell coverage in some of our other articles. The thing is you can accept decent coverage in a country’s capital city in an urban area that you’re staying at. Once you venture off into the smaller towns particularly in rural areas cell coverage is likely going to be harder to come by. Kind of the same thing goes for your card being accepted. Virtually in the capital city of any country in the world you’re going to be able to find venues that accept American Express for example. As you venture into some of the smaller towns and the rural areas the places that you’ll find that accept the card will be fewer and further apart. Keep that in mind as you travel, particularly so you can try and have cash on hand for specific parts of the trip. 

Can I Use My Credit Card Abroad – What Currency Should I Pay In?

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You’re going to want to watch out for the currency that you’re paying in when you’re using a credit or debit card abroad. Some people are lured into thinking that it could be a good idea to just pay in their currency. For example, if you’re a US resident traveling to Mexico you could potentially keep your purchases in US dollars. That seems like a good idea because you’ll get a better sense for how much money you’re actually spending right? The problem is, exchange rates that are offered by some of the payment processors can end up being unfavorable. We had to go through the worst case scenario on multiple occasions with a Payooner account for example. 

The currency that we had was in US dollars, but the card’s official currency is GBP. When trying to pay Mexican pesos the charge would be taken from US dollars to pounds to pesos. A double unfavorable exchange rate led to us racking up nasty bills on our trips before we figured that something was up. That’s why we can now say that the best thing that you can do is stick to paying in the local currency and have your card provider be the one to set the exchange rate. Otherwise you could end up losing a lot of money that’s just literally going down the drain in a transaction like this.    

Can I Use My Credit Card Abroad At ATMs? 

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The answer to this question is going to depend on the card that you have. Not all credit cards are going to allow their users to be able to withdraw money. That’s something that you’re going to want to keep in mind first of all. From there, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re traveling to a country that has a network that allows for foreign cards to be read at local ATMs. Again this is not something that we are saying in an effort to sound like elitists. There are just some countries across the globe that may not be as advanced in certain technological terms if you will. When you travel there you’re going to want to know if you’re going to be able to get cash from the ATM. 

You may want to think about bringing a debit card along to your trip so that you can use it to get cash. When you want to withdraw money from a credit card you may be faced with hefty fees to be able to process the transaction. Speaking of fees, even with a debit card there’s a chance that you’re going to have to pay some extra fees at the ATM machine. Also, you may be offered a currency conversion rate at the ATM. Again as is the case with the payments that you make with your card your best bet is usually going to be to stick with the local currency and have your card provider and not the bank deal with the conversion. 

Does Where You Travel Matter?

If you’ve read this far you know that the answer to this question is yes, and there’s little argument to be had. We just want to make sure that we cover some of the things that you have to be on the lookout for. We’ve talked about certain cards being accepted. Visa, and Mastercard are pretty much going to be accepted anywhere that they do take a card. American Express, and Discover cards which could be considered a bit more elite options could have problems. Which is odd to think about because there are certain services for example that American Express offers that make it a great card to travel with. However it may not be accepted in certain places.  

There are also some positive things that we can potentially highlight about traveling to places that in essence are very similar to your home country. For example traveling though the European Union is in many ways a breeze for Euro residents. You have the same banks and the same currency in a lot of countries. For US travelers you get some of the same benefits when traveling to Canada for example. If you travel south to Mexico you are not dealing with the same banks, but there’s a national network that ATMs are connected to that allow you to withdraw money from your American account without any trouble. 

Other Things To Know About Using A Credit Card Abroad

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We’ve mentioned that if you need to get cash it may be a better idea to bring a debit card on the trip. The good thing about cards is that there’s certainly no limit to the amount of money that you can cross borders or get on a plane with. So if you can limit the amount of cash that you have on you when you’re traveling, that’s always a good thing. Remember that your credit card company could block your card particularly in the first purchase that you make abroad. In those situations it’s just best not to panic and find a way to contact the credit card company.    

With this in mind though what we would recommend is that you handle those types of situations on the first leg of the trip. Here’s what we mean by that. Let’s say for argument’s sake that you’re headed to Machu Picchu in Peru. We use this example a lot because it’s become a very popular rural area to visit. You may not have cell coverage there, and could have trouble finding an ATM. Make sure that you deal with your credit card company or the bank in Lima or whatever other larger Peruvian city that you land in before you head out to the rural areas. That’s going to save you quite a few headaches on your trip.