So you’ve booked the flight, packed your bags and set your away message. But have you taken the time to ensure your credit card, debit card and cell phone will work abroad? If not, put it on your to-do list, because nothing puts a damper on a vacation quite like not having funds or phone service — or dealing with fraud.
Over time, issuers come to know your spending habits, so any time a purchase deviates from the norm — say, making a large purchase on a card used for smaller transactions — a hold could be placed on your card. Worse still, if a scammer manages to get a hold of your card, there’s no telling what he could do with it.
With those factors in mind, here are three calls to make before heading abroad.
1. Your Credit Card Issuer
Like any personal information, you want to keep your credit card secure. The best way to do that is by letting your issuer know you’ll be out of the country. Not only will this prevent a hold from being placed on your card, you’ll get an alert if something suspicious comes up — that is, if you’re signed up for push notifications.
2. Your Bank
Whether you plan to pack your debit card or not, let your bank know your plans. After giving them the dates, ask to set limits for daily ATM withdrawals and in-person transactions. You may need to access hundreds of dollars in funds each day, but there’s no reason the limit should be in the thousands. Find out where the levels are currently and adjust them accordingly. While the bank may replenish funds lost to fraud, you don’t want to deal with an overdrawn account.
3. Your Cell Phone Provider
The only thing worse than being out of touch? Getting hit with roaming data charges. Do your wallet a favor and ask your provider if it’s best to keep your phone on Airplane mode or spring for an international plan. You can often arrange a plan to only cover a trip.
Remember, even if your credit and debit cards work abroad, you don’t want to go overboard with spending. Experts recommend keeping your balance below 30% — and ideally at 10% — of your available credit limit as to avoid exceeding it (this can damage your credit). To see how your spending is affecting your credit, view your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.
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Image: Eva Katalin Kondoros