Credit Cards and Your Summer Vacation

Well-planned handling of your credit cards can help ensure that your summer vacation holds only pleasant memories. So begin planning as soon as you choose your destination.

Start by examining all your credit cards. Do some of them offer travel rewards? Should you use one card for airline tickets another for your hotel or resort reservation, and a different one for a car rental or gasoline?

Since some credit card issuers still do give rewards, you might as well take advantage of them. And, since using too much of your credit line on any one card will negatively affect your credit scores, spreading these charges between different cards is a good idea.

Once you’ve decided which cards to use where, choose which cards will go in your wallet for the trip. Be smart and pare down, so you’re carrying only 2 or 3. Then write down all the account numbers and contact information for each card. Put a copy in your carry-on luggage and leave another copy with a friend or relative you can contact quickly in case you need the information in a hurry.

If you’ve reserved a room with your credit card, find out if you’ll have to show the card in order to finalize the charge. If so, that one needs to go along as well.

Put the cards you’re leaving behind in a safe place. Your desk drawer or the corner cupboard isn’t that place! Remember, break-ins do happen when people are away from home, so don’t leave temptations like credit cards, debit cards, or large sums of money in easily accessible spots. If you have a safe, use it. Otherwise, use your safe deposit box at the bank.

Before you leave, notify your credit card issuers of your plans. Tell them where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Otherwise, some conscientious card issuers could put a freeze on your spending when they see charges popping up in other cities. They’ll usually try to contact you first to verify the charges are valid, but when they can’t reach you, you could find yourself unable even to buy lunch.

If you forget, and it happens, you’ll have the contact numbers with you, so you can straighten it out. But… first you might have to be embarrassed when a charge is denied.

Once at your destination, put one card in your wallet and store the others in your in-room or hotel safe, along with the contact list and other important documents such as your passport, return airline tickets, etc.

Finally, if your card is lost or stolen, report it as soon as you know it’s missing. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act you’ll only be liable for the first $50 of unauthorized charges, but you don’t need the hassle of proving which charges are not yours if you fail to report it immediately.

One Response to “Credit Cards and Your Summer Vacation”

  1. CreditRepairCompany Clyde says:

    Kudos on a great post – very valuable advice! In regard to the issue of "using too much of your credit line" I would like to add that it's a good idea to keep your debt to credit limit ratio to 35% or lower.

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