Avoiding an Overseas Credit Card Decline
Concerns of identity theft and other fraudulent activity have led credit card companies to be much more watchful of international transactions. For many card accounts, an overseas purchase is an immediate red flag that will cause the account to be frozen until the rightful user can be verified. Other cards simply don’t allow international purchases, so it pays to find out how flexible your cards are before you embark on your world-traveling vacation.
Find Out Which Cards Allow International Spending
The first thing you want to do is verify which of your cards allow overseas purchases. Unsecured cards and those with very high interest rates are some of the cards that may typically deny you these privileges. If you have an American Express Platinum card or some other high-end, invitation-only account, then you might have an easier time shopping in Paris without restrictions. Either way, a toll-free number should be printed on the back of your credit card that will help you reach your company. You can also visit the corresponding web site to access your account and find out what privileges your card holds.
Notify Your Credit Card Company Before You Leave
The easiest way to avoid being declined overseas is to simply let your carrier know that you are going away. You should detail the dates of your trip, as well as exact locations where you’re going to be traveling. If you make changes to your itinerary, be sure to keep your credit card company in the loop, as any deviations from your travel plans could also cause your card to be denied.
Use the Internet
The web can be a helpful tool while you’re away. On your credit card’s web site, you can monitor your account balance as you travel. Here, you can check for overages, unknown use and added fees that you’ve incurred as a result of international use. Purchases usually post within 24 to 72 hours from initiation, so you can keep a close eye on your budget. If you notice items or charges that are unfamiliar, be sure to contact your credit card company right away.
ATM Fees and Exchange Rates
Withdrawing money in a foreign country can be confusing with exchange rates and additional fees (many companies charge up to 3% or more of the amount withdrawn). Verify how much your carrier charges for international ATM use before you leave so you can include this in your budget. Many credit card companies will help you find the best exchange rates in your country of choice. You can use trackers online or call for assistance once you’ve arrived.
Wherever you go, it pays to be smart about your credit card use. If your card charges a fee for every international transaction (American Express charges 2.7% and many popular banks like Citibank charge 3% or more), you may consider applying for a new card with more lenient rules on overseas use. Discover and Capital One are popular no-fee cards.
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