Always take at least two credit cards with you.
Check the balances on your credit
cards before you leave. Be sure to take credit
cards with at least $500 or more open on each. Determine
this based on your vacation's fixed costs which are already
paid in advance, and on your projections of what you think
you'll spend. We always spend more than we think we will,
so account for that.
Check with the hotel at which
you'll be staying to find out which cards they do and
don't take. Don't assume all places take American
Express or Discover. They do not. Ask specifically if
they take Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or any other.
You may also want to ask them if they have an ATM or if
there's one nearby.
Ask your hotel if they put a
hold on your credit card for a particular amount during
your stay. Most upscale hotels will block anywhere
between $200 - $500 on your card when you make the reservation
and will not remove it until you pay your bill. Check
on that BEFORE you leave home. You may want to request
an increased line of credit from your bank.
At check-out, ask the front
desk or manager to remove the hold on your credit card.
Most hotels will keep the hold on the card for up to a
month to ensure they receive payment from the bank, and/or
just wait until the next billing/credit cycle of their
accounting department. The hold on that money could deny
you all those souvenirs and extra goodies you were planning
to buy for family and friends.
5. Make sure you have with you
the correct phone number of exact places you need to call,
and your credit card account numbers, in case your card
is lost or stolen. Keep these numbers in a
separate place from your credit cards. For example, if
you keep you cards in your purse, keep the number in your
jacket pocket, hotel room, or shoe if you have to. Your
purse or briefcase could get stolen or lost with your
credit cards in them, and if the lost/stolen reporting
information is with them, you'll lose the number to call
and valuable time. Thieves could spend hundreds of dollars
by the time you track it all down again, especially if
you're in another country.
6. Let your bank know ahead of
time that you're planning to travel, and to where, and
which credit cards you're taking. On trips,
we spend more than we normally do. Bank personnel is trained
to decline cards that show unusual spending sprees to
protect their customers. It won't be a fun trip if that
fabulous and expensive restaurant you just enjoyed declined
your card. You'll spend a half day of your vacation calling
your bank to prove it was you, not a thief.
7. Make sure you have your passwords,
pin numbers, social security number, or any other ID with
you that will allow you to access your account if you
have to call to report a lost or stolen card. If
you call your bank to report a lost or stolen card, the
first thing they'll want is your password or social security
number so they can be sure it's you, not the thief. If
it's not memorized then bring it along and keep in a safe
hiding place away from the cards. By the way, report lost
or stolen cards immediately. Do not wait. And ask your
bank how much you'll be responsible for if someone uses
your card. Most banks have limits. Or you may want to
ensure a limit.
8. If you're going out for the
day and don't plan on using the cards, leave them in a
safety deposit box at the hotel, or room safe. We
do recommend, however, that you always take one card with
you. You never know.
9. Try to keep cash, travelers
checks, and credit cards separate when all are with you. We strongly recommend body belts that wrap around your
waist under your clothes. Or if with a companion, split
up the property.
10. Don't flash your cash or credit
cards around at any time.
11. Get receipts for everything even
if you can't write it off.
12. Find out the location of a Western Union or wiring service
both near home and at the hotel. Think
Murphy's Law. If it can happen, it will. Leave some cash
with someone you trust, the address of a local wire service
near home, and the hotel information. Ask your hotel if
they offer a wire transfer service, or who does, get the
transfer information and leave it with your trusted friend.
In the event your credit cards or currency is stolen,
you can call your friend to wire cash immediately. Being
prepared up front will prevent the hassle of trying to
find all the information you need from a foreign location,
under stressful conditions, which could take all day.