Using Your Bank Card Abroad

Isn’t it painful when your card is declined abroad? We get angry with the banks but they are only protecting our money. As far as they are concerned they are expecting our cards to be in the UK so if they block for unusual spending is that not a good thing?

To prevent the embarrassment, most high street banks recommend you tell them of your travel plans before you go. They are then able to apply a ‘travel flag’ to the account and therefore expect your card to be used abroad.

If your card does get blocked whilst you are abroad, call up your bank with the international number on the back of your card, follow the security, confirm it is you who is enjoying the sunshine in a far away country and then continue with your holiday.

Other forms of payments

When travelling abroad, it is advisable to take a few different methods of payment. Cash, Pre-paid travel card, credit card and debit card are the most common payment types. Cash

Allows you to tip the taxi driver on arrival at the hotel and grab a cold drink at the bar after checking in. Try not to carry too much cash on your person as if it is lost or stolen you can be in a bit of a pickle.Pre-Paid Travel Card

There are many different types of pre-paid travel cards so shop around to see who gives the best rates. (Remember that rates can fluctuate quite a bit.) These cards are useful as they tend to offer better rates than your debit or credit card. They can also turn out to be cheaper when using them in a different country as they tend not to charge per transaction.

Credit Card

It is advisable never to use your credit card to take cash from an ATM as more often than not the credit card company will charge you a cash handling fee as well as a higher APR (more interest). The best thing about a credit card is to use it as a back up, e.g. if you overspend and forget you need to pay the checkout bill at the hotel.

Debit Card

Check the usage fees for abroad; I know some banks charge a fee per transaction, e.g. £1 for every card purchase. This can add up in the long run, especially if you are on holiday to shop! Sometimes credit cards can be cheaper as they don’t charge this fee. (This only applies to purchases where you use your Chip and PIN machine or the card is swiped by a cashier, NOT usage at an ATM.) Also take note of the daily limits which means how much cash you can withdraw in one day.

Make sure you have your travel insurance in place before you enjoy sun, sea and sand. 24/7 Travel Insurance covers you up to £500* for the loss or theft of your personal money and travel documents during your trip. A 7 day break in Los Angeles, USA will cost just £19.60**.

*Amounts quoted are based on a Single Trip/Annual Multi-Trip ‘Standard’ 24/7 Travel Insurance policy. You are not covered for more than £150 on the ‘Standard’ policy in total in cash or currency, whether solely or jointly. You must read the policy wording to ensure you are familiar with your cover.

** Premium £19.60 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a ‘Standard’ Single Trip 24/7 Travel Insurance policy including personal possessions cover for 7 days Worldwide incl USA/Canada/Caribbean and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (May 2011) and are subject to change.