Traveling this summer? 9 credit card tips to know

Tourist in Rome.jpg

Do you remember being a teen, when your folks insisted on knowing where you were going, who you’d be with, and when you’d be back? It was annoying then, but as an adult you probably understand they just wanted you to be safe.

Well, we don’t care so much about the company you keep, but giving us the “where and when” of your travel plans can help prevent problems when you use your card, especially if you are going overseas.

One way credit card companies protect you from fraud is by analyzing your card use and looking for patterns. If there’s a sudden change in the types of charges on your card, or the location where it’s used, your account could be flagged and possibly blocked.

A block could also be triggered by use in a high-fraud area. Also, retail locations may sometimes use extra security when a customer pays with an out-of-area credit card.

Once a card is blocked, a phone call to us can usually clear up the issue and allow you to use your card. But it may not always be convenient to make that call, so take a few precautions.

Before you travel:

  1. Contact us. Call, send us a secure email from your online account, or visit a branch and let us know your travel destination(s) and timeline. We’ll note the information so charges made during your trip won’t be identified as suspicious transactions.
  2. Know how to reach us. Write down the phone number to contact us, as well as any other card issuers. You may need to contact us about a transaction or report lost or stolen card. Keep the information with you at all times. Consider storing a copy in your luggage or the hotel safe.
  3. Update your information. Be sure we have a current email address for you that you can access during your trip. Also, check that we have your mobile phone number. If you carry a second phone for international travel, remember that text messages sent to your primary number won’t be forwarded.
  4. Sign up for alerts. Set up email or text alerts for transactions on your card, so you’ll be notified of any fraudulent charges.
  5. Understand your limits. Be sure you know your credit limit and whether there is a daily or per-transaction maximum. This is more common with debit cards, so check before you hit the ATM.
  6. Know the fees. You will likely pay a foreign transaction fee each time you use your card. There are cards that do not collect these fees, but they often come with an annual fee. Most issuers charge around 3%, but some tack on additional fees, so make sure you understand those costs.
  7. Watch your card. Be careful with your credit cards. Keep it in your possession at all times by using restaurants and shops that process the transactions at your table rather than a back room.
  8. Choose the chip. Many US credit cards now carry chip technology that has long been the standard in other parts of the world. Your chip card is more likely to be accepted at self-service places, such as city bike rental stations.
  9. Carry a second card. It’s smart to have a back-up card in case you have problems. 

Call us before you go.

Contact us:

800-656-4328 option 4 – notify us prior to traveling

412-552-2698 (collect) – contact us from overseas about a lost, stolen or blocked card

800-264-5578 – contact us within the US about a lost, stolen or blocked card

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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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