Some card terminals overseas only accept EMV credit cards, named for developers Europay, Mastercard and Visa. These cards contain a microchip instead of a magnetic strip. Magnetic-stripe cards are more common in the U.S.
"Many people get overseas and find out they can't use their credit card," says Todd Mark, vice president of education for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas.
Automated kiosks for tickets and transportation are the likeliest sources of frustration for U.S. travelers with mag-stripe cards, says Gwenn Bezard, research director at Aite Group.
In some cases, they can use their mag-stripe cards when an attendant is manning the ticket booth, he says.
At least 19 issuers, such as Chase, Citi and U.S. Bank offer chip cards in the U.S., says Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.
They issue them mostly in smaller numbers to customers who travel internationally, he says.
If chip technology is the norm in the country you're visiting, request an EMV version of your card before you leave if the issuer offers them, Mark says. Or, look into buying prepaid chip cards at your destination, says Bezard.
Chip card or not, let your issuer know about your travel plans abroad. Otherwise, the issuer could temporarily suspend charging privileges due to fraud concerns.