Are you planning an international trip soon? If so, the New York Times just published this great article with tips on using a credit card while traveling overseas.
Credit card companies have been beefing up security measures lately in order to prevent credit card fraud. However, for travelers this can mean extra hassle if your card is used somewhere the credit card company is not expecting it to be used. Credit card companies use software that tracks customers’ spending habits. That means if your card is suddenly used in another state or somewhere that is known to be a place where criminals use stolen credit cards, your account could be frozen.
In order to avoid a frozen credit card, before any trips, notify the credit card company of the trip, so that if you are suddenly gassing up in Barcelona the credit card company will not suspect theft and freeze your account. It’s also a good idea to carry more than one card.
Another issue with American credit cards that the article points out is that many countries in Europe, in addition to Canada, Mexico, Japan and others now use a credit card system where each credit card has a chip and requires customers to enter a PIN. This is in place of American-style credit cards that use a magnetic stripe.
Merchants that accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express are supposed to accept either type of card, but many merchants don’t understand what to do with the magnetic cards. Language barriers may mean it’s difficult to explain the cards. Also, many kiosks overseas only accept the chip-style credit cards, and travelers with magnetic stripe-style cards often have to wait in long lines. The chip-style cards are more secure; however, major credit card companies have indicated there are no immediate plans to offer those cards to American customers.