Ask questions before you leave
Will your card work where you're going? And is it commonly accepted?
Don't just ask card-issuer customer service. Before you leave, also talk with your travel agent (if you have one) and your hotel, innkeeper or concierge, too.
Make sure to ask if you can get by with magnetic stripe cards or if the area is predominantly chip-and-PIN territory, Ridout says.
Especially in Europe, you can still use mag-stripe cards, says Feddis. But some places -- like small, independent stores or automated kiosks that dispense tickets for transportation, museums and shows -- often accept only chip-and-PIN cards, she says.
Once you know what's accepted, if you decide you'd like a chip-and-PIN card, "you may want to find out if your bank has it or can issue it," says Ridout.
Bonus travel tip: Even if you primarily use one card at home, it can help to take more than one on a trip, especially from different issuers, says Tiffany. "Not every card is universally accepted." Plus, if one card inadvertently cuts you off or suspends privileges, you have a backup.