Traveling This Summer? Don't Forget to Take These Credit Card Steps

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on June 30, 2021

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A woman sitting in a sunny plaza next to her suitcase while she looks something up on her tablet and holds her credit card.

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You don't want to miss out on cardholder benefits or get your card shut down while you're away.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to trend down and many restrictions lifting, many people are planning summer vacations this year.

For a good number of jetsetters, it's been a long time since travel was possible. That could mean many people will forget some of the steps necessary to prepare for a vacation -- including taking care of these three important credit card tasks.

1. Check for foreign transaction fees

A growing number of countries are opening their borders to Americans again, so you may be considering traveling abroad. If so, check to see if your credit card charges foreign transaction fees.

Some cards impose these fees when you make purchases outside of the United States. They are typically around 1% to 3% of each purchase you make, although the specific fee charged varies by card. And they can really add up, especially if you spend a lot while you are away.

You can read your cardmember agreement to find out if your credit card will impose this added cost. If it does, you may want to consider getting a travel rewards credit card that won't charge you extra money just to use it on vacation.

2. Explore your card's travel benefits

Some travel cards offer generous cardholder perks that could make your first post-pandemic trip a lot more enjoyable.

Your card may cover the cost of bringing checked bags on your flight. Or it could be your ticket to entry into a luxurious private airline lounge so you don't have to wait at a crowded gate. Other cards may even provide early check-in or free wifi at hotels.

Before you head off on your trip, check your card's travel benefits so you can take full advantage of them. And if your card offers perks such as car rental insurance or lost luggage insurance, you'll also want to know about those in case something goes wrong.

3. Notify your card issuer of your trip

Many credit card companies monitor purchases to detect signs of fraud. Charges that suddenly occur in a foreign country, or even in a different state, could trigger a fraud alert and lead your card issuer to shut down your credit card.

You don't want to be left unable to make purchases on your preferred card while you're away, or scrambling to contact your card company to let them know your spending is legitimate. To avoid this, be sure to notify your credit card company in advance of your trip.

Many cards let you complete a form online explaining where you are going and when so there's no chance of the card being shut down. If yours doesn't, a phone call could do the trick.

By taking these three steps, you can make certain your card is usable, that it doesn't cost you extra to use it, and that you take full advantage of cardholder perks. Be sure to check them off your list during your vacation planning process.

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