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Travel Credit Cards

By Steve Gillman

Why bring travel credit cards instead of traveler's checks? Convenience, safety and savings. The first time I had to exchange $200 of travelers checks overseas, the bank charged me $8. Later, during the same trip, I used my debit card at an ATM to get $200 from my checking account. The charge was one dollar, and that was the last time I used traveler's checks.

Travel Credit Cards And Debit Cards

It is best to carry a credit card AND a debit card, and keep them well-hidden in two separate places. Bring cards that have either zero liability, or a fifty dollar liability limit for any unauthorized charges. Ask your bank or credit card company about this. Make sure you bring a Visa card, as this seems to be the most widely accepted right now.

Sometimes an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) won't take a card for some reason. Normally, you can use the other card, which will usually work fine. That's the advantage of having two cards. By the way, criminals watch those ATMs, so be especially careful not to flash your money around when you leave an ATM.

For most travel, credit cards may be less trouble than debit cards. They can be replaced quickly if stolen. On your stolen debit card, your liability might be zero, but you probably won't have access to your account until the matter is sorted out.

On the other hand, on longer trips it's a hassle to pay the credit card bill on time, which isn't a problem with debit cards. That's another reason to carry both. On longer trips you can wait until you're a few weeks from home to use the credit card, and you'll get there before the bill does.

Another advantage travel credit and debit cards have over traveler's checks, is that when you need the local currency, you'll almost always get a better exchange rate with your cards. Plus, the cash you get from the local ATM will truly be accepted everywhere, something no traveler's checks can promise.

Be sure to call your credit card company or bank before you travel overseas. They may decline your card when you try to use it otherwise. Just let them know where you'll be and for aproximately how long. E-mail yourself the phone numbers to call in case of loss or theft, so you can get them from anywhere in the world.

To sum up : Use cards with low liability, high enough limits for your trip, and hide them well on your body. These are the requirements for good travel credit cards.

About The Author
Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the U.S. and Mexico alone at 17. Now 40, he travels with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. For travel stories, tips and a free e-book, visit:

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