It's the vacation
version of the old grocery store conundrum: cash or
For most instances a credit card is the
best bet when you travel, hands down. But when you want
to get a little spending money, an ATM card is a great
are a few tips to smooth out the financial
wrinkles and give you that hassle-free vacation
you've been planning:
|Save when using plastic
1. Select cards
for overseas use.
For an international trip, find which
cards you'll be able to use. In certain
parts of the world, some cards will
be accepted more widely than others,
says Clark Howard, co-author of "Get
Clark Smart: The Ultimate Guide to Getting
Rich from America's Money-Saving Expert."
Check a couple of good guidebooks to
find out which cards will give you the
most options in that area.
Ask about fees in advance.
If you're leaving the U.S., ask about fees. Call the
issuing bank and find what kind of fees it charges for
using the card outside the U.S. Many institutions charge
additional fees -- flat rate, percentage or both --
for foreign transactions. "Most people don't think
to ask, or know to ask," says Howard.
Look for a foreign currency exchange fee
or foreign transaction fee, says Howard. What can be
really galling: Some banks will add them to the bill
even if the merchant conducts the transaction in U.S.
dollars. Take the cards that will cost you the least
to use. If you belong to a credit union, see if its
credit card might offer a better deal on overseas travel.
Even if you think you know your credit
card bank's policies, check again. "A number of
major credit card issuers recently made substantial
increases to the nature and amount of the fees they
charge for foreign transactions," says Edward Hasbrouck,
author of "The
Practical Nomad" travel series.
In some cases, you'll face a similar situation
with ATM transactions. If there is a flat fee on every
transaction, that string of little credit card charges
can really skyrocket.