If you are about to take a trip overseas, there are a couple things you should keep in mind about using credit cards abroad. In sum, you need to contact your credit card company and let them know the duration that you will be overseas. You should look into the foreign exchange fee on your credit card, and you should keep track of your purchases overseas.

Contacting your credit card company is the first step if you are going overseas, whether it is a quick trip to Niagara Falls for the weekend or a 6 month deployment to Spain. If you inform your credit card company of your travels, it is much more likely that they will authorize all of your purchases. By contrast, if your credit card company does not know that you will be traveling abroad, they may deny your purchases, suspecting fraudulent activity.

In addition, it is worth looking into the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and the currency of the country you will be traveling to and the foreign exchange fee on your credit card. Depending on these two pieces of information, it may be cheaper to exchange money or to almost exclusively use your credit card. When I have traveled overseas, it has almost always been cheaper or, at the very least, equal to use my credit card abroad. In addition, if you have a travel rewards card, it is likely that you might receive special benefits if you use it abroad. I personally prefer using a credit card abroad in almost all instances because it is safer. You do not have to worry about fiddling around with cash and you can track your purchases. It is also easier since you do not have to worry about what to do with the extra money that you have exchanged.

Editor's Pick for Traveling Abroad

  • Travel Rewards
    3 points for rideshares like Uber or Lyft, and transit, points for travel including homestays like Airbnb, hotels, and car rentals.
  • Airfare Rewards
    Receive 3 points for travel including flights.
  • Annual Fee
    None
Credit Level
  • 690
  • 850
Excellent and Good Credit
Highlights
  • 3X points for eating out and for ordering in.
  • 3X points for gas stations.
  • 3x points rideshares like Uber or Lyft, and transit.
  • 3X points for travel including flights, homestays like Airbnb, hotels, and car rentals.
  • 1X point on other purchases.

Finally, when you use your credit card abroad, make sure that you keep track of your purchases. If you use online banking, this will be extremely easy to do. Keeping track of your purchases can help you in a couple ways: knowing what you need to declare on a customs form, tracking how much you are spending abroad, and ensuring that there is no fraudulent activity on your card.

Traveling abroad is always exciting. As you prepare for having fun overseas, make sure you take the time to discover tips for using credit cards abroad. It is very likely that it will be smoother and easier to use your credit card overseas because you can track purchases, potentially pay less in foreign fees, and not have to worry about dealing with lots of cash.