How to Use Your Credit Card While Travelling

Couple sitting on patio somewhere tropical ordering drinks and paying with credit card

Don’t forget to think about money when planning your next trip. While organizing flights, hotels, and vaccinations are all essential, getting your credit cards in order before taking off can save you a lot of money. A little preparation can go a long way.  

Make Sure Your Credit Cards Are Accepted 

While credit cards are generally accepted all over Canada, that might not be the case where you’re travelling. Some countries may not have the infrastructure to take your credit card. In some cases, stores and restaurants might have high credit card minimum purchases due to bank fees. Make sure to do some research to find out whether your preferred payment methods are common and that your credit card’s payment network (VisaMastercard, American Express, etc.) is accepted. Managed responsibly, this is a case where it can be beneficial to have multiple cards on different networks.  

Notify Your Credit Card Company 

You don’t want to arrive at your destination, try to pay for something, and find out your card has been declined. Before you leave, send your credit card company a travel notice. You’ll tell them the dates of your trip and which countries you’ll be visiting. Big steps have been taken recently by issuers with respect to fraud monitoring, and this notification may not be necessary in every case, but until you know for sure it’s probably best to play it safe. That way, there won’t be any surprises when you try to rent that snorkelling equipment in Bali.  

Check your Credit Card’s Foreign Exchange Rates 

If you have multiple credit cards, find out which one has low or no foreign transaction fees. These fees can usually range from around two to three percent, which can add up over time. Some travel cards waive the foreign exchange fee entirely. If you travel frequently, it might make sense for you to add one of these cards to your wallet. One such card is the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, which in addition to a no foreign transaction fee, offers additional travel benefits like travel medical insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage insurance, rental car insurance, and more. 

Pro-tip: If a local store or restaurant asks you whether you want to pay in local currency or Canadian Dollars, always choose the local currency. If you select Canadian Dollars, the merchant can sometimes charge an exchange rate that may be higher than your credit card company’s rate.  

Choose a Travel Rewards Card 

If you travel often, signing up for a travel rewards card can be a great way to save (and earn) money. In addition to waiving foreign transaction fees, many travel cards offer perks to make your vacation even better.  

Examples include:  

  • Travel insurance and roadside assistance.  
  • Discounts on airlines, hotels, or restaurants.  
  • Access to exclusive airport lounges.  

Many travel cards give you bonus points if you redeem your points for travel purposes. Plus, credit card companies often offer significant bonus point incentives to sign up for their card. You may be able to accumulate hundreds of dollars-worth in points or rewards, which you can redeem for your vacation.  

Choosing the right travel card can make a big difference. Compare travel rewards credit cards to see which card will give you the maximum return for lifestyle.  

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