How to Protect Your Credit/Debit Card When Travelling

As you gear up for a well-earned vacation this coming Chinese New Year (or any time of the year really); protect your credit/debit card with these tips.

Are you all set for some fun in the sun; sightseeing; and just all-round vacation goodness? You may have the sunscreen and swimming gear all packed but are you really ready for your holiday?

Protecting yourself against the of the perils of travel is important and nothing can ruin a holiday faster than the money issues you may end up facing. Stolen credit or debit cards can cause a lot of holiday headache but you can protect your money friends by being ready. Check out our tips on doing just that.

Keep Your Card Concealed

When taking your card out with you during travel; it will pay to keep it as safely protected on your person as much as possible. Travel wallets that are concealed under clothing or strapped securely to you are a good bet when you are walking in busy streets on taking public transportation.

It does sound cumbersome to have to reach into your securely strapped travel wallet to pay for things but you'll be glad you did. Losing your credit card or debit card overseas is not fun - as many would attest.

Keep Photocopies of Your Card

Before you travel, make photocopies of your card front and back and keep this in your luggage with the phone number of the bank's lost card reporting line. It might seem like common sense but most people lose their cards only to realise they don't remember the card number nor the back's emergency phone number!

Of course, just like physical cards, the photocopies could also fall in the wrong hands. Use a good black marker to blot out the name and expiry date (this means you'll have to remember it for yourself) just in case the photocopies end up stolen. Having just one credit card with you on holiday could help reduce how much you need to remember and photocopy!

Should you indeed lose your card abroad, having this information will make it easier to immediately report your lost card. Just take care not to lose the photocopies too!

Don't Take Your Card Everywhere

Every day you are enjoying a foreign land may bring different adventures and experiences. Not all of them will require a credit card. If you are spending the day hiking or hitting the open markets; there are not going to be very many opportunities to swipe. Lock your card in the hotel room safe along with your passport and other important bits and bobs.

You'll probably only need your card for shopping in malls and boutiques or dining in upscale eateries. If you know this is what your day is going to entail; then you can bring your card along for the ride.

Secure Your Debit Card... Or Leave It Behind

Unlike your credit card, your debit card is linked to all the physical money you have in your bank account. This makes it even more dangerous to wave about a foreign place willy-nilly. Do you really need to take your debit card with you? If you must have your ATM card, is it possible to bring along the card without the debit feature?

Stolen credit card charges can be disputed and whilst waiting for the charges to be reversed, you are not yet out of pocket with the costs. Though debit card charges can be disputed as well; you've lost a good chunk of money in the meantime.

If you absolutely must bring your debit card with you, perhaps because you don't have a credit card or non-debit ATM card: limit the amount of cash available in that particular account. Instead of keeping all RM10,000 of your savings in that account - transfer a good chunk of it to a fixed deposit and limit yourself to say - RM500 or a number you're comfortable with.

All said and done, we would recommend you leave the debit card at home and equip yourself with a rewarding travel credit card instead.

Keep Your Bank Informed

Whether or not the operator on the other side is listening to you, it's still only to your benefit to keep your bank informed of your impending travel dates. Give the general card centre line a call but also follow up with an email to give them something in writing letting them know when you expect to be travelling and where you'll be going.

Even if you do not lose your card, some banks may prevent transactions from overseas thinking your card has been stolen. You can at least attempt to avoid such inconvenience by letting them know that you do intend to travel and use your card in that particular country.

Get the Most From Your Holiday

Avoiding the mess of a stolen credit card on your holiday is supremely important for a time abroad well-spent. But don't forget to also use your card to the best of it's abilities to score overseas points, cashback and services that give you more for your money.

Using the wrong credit card with bad conversion rates and measly benefits can see you spending so much more on your holiday than you anticipated. Check the benefits of the card you intend to take and the conversion rates generally offered compared to competing banks. If necessary; opt for a new, improved, more rewarding card for your travels.

Happy trails.


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