Credit / Debit Cards
01. Which to Take?
We take both on trips both domestic and international.
Our Debit Cards are used only for ATM (Automated Teller Machine) cash withdrawals. The fees for withdrawal are lower than on our MC, VISA, or AMEX credit cards.
Our Credit Cards are used to purchase goods and services to take advantage of the perks only our credit cards provide, such as extended warranties on purchases, rewards points, and included collision insurance on rental cars.
02. ATM Fees
The Surcharge is a fee imposed by the ATM owner charged to all consumers using the machine. The Foreign Transaction Fee is a fee charged to you by your credit card issuer or debit card bank for conducting a transaction outside its network of machines. There are many credit/debit card issuers that waive this fee. Does yours? Ask.
03. Daily Withdrawal Limits
Before you go, ask your bank how much you can withdraw per 24 hours with your debit card and consider adjusting the amount. Some travelers prefer a higher limit that allows them to take out more cash at each ATM stop thereby lowering total transaction fees for the trip. Others prefer to set a lower limit as a security measure in case their card is stolen. Either way, it’s a good idea to monitor your account while traveling to detect any unauthorized transactions.
04. Dollars vs Foreign Currency
Remember that at a foreign ATM, you’re withdrawing a different currency than dollars. If your daily withdrawal limit in dollars is $500 you might have to enter a smaller number of the foreign currency that equal $500 depending on the exchange rate at that time. Many frustrated travelers walk away from the ATM thinking their cards were rejected, when actually they were entering a request for more money in the foreign currency than their dollar daily withdrawal limit allowed.
05. Big Bills
In some countries, an ATM may give you high-denomination bills which can be difficult to break. So request an odd amount of money from the ATM (such as 2,800 Czech koruna instead of 3,000) to get back some smaller bills. If the machine insists on giving you big bills, go to a bank or a major store to break them.
06. PIN Numbers
If your card has a five-digit PIN, you will need to change to a four-digit PIN before you leave home. Many overseas ATMs cannot recognize 5 digits. And if your credit card PIN includes letters, change to a 4 digit number for the same reason Be sure to memorize your PIN before you leave home. Entering the wrong code three consecutive times at an ATM may result in your card being "eaten" by the machine. You should never write down your PIN. But if you're afraid you'll forget it - then disguise it. Add your birthday year to it and write the resultant number on some innocuous piece of paper in your purse. Just remember to subtract it to get the correct PIN at the ATM.
07. Destination Information
Ask your credit card company/bank if they want to know your destination countries and dates of your trip. Some do and some don't. This might prevent them from placing a block on your account because your transaction pattern has changed