As temperatures rise, so do the number of Americans planning to get away. In fact, three-fourths of consumers plan to pack their bags this summer and head out on vacation, according to recent surveys.
If you are like most, you plan to fund at least a portion of your summer travel on a credit card. According to Experian, credits cards are used more often than cash or debit cards across all types of vacation purchases.
“When used responsibly, a credit card can be a great way to help keep your wallet secure, reduce fees and make the most out of rewards while traveling,” says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal financial planning with USAA Bank. “However, there are some common myths about credit cards and travel that may keep some consumers from maximizing their card’s benefits.”
Van Cleve sets the record straight about three common travel-related credit card myths:
Myth No. 1: Don’t notify your credit card company
When it comes to whether you should tell your credit card company you’re embarking on a trip, some banks say yes, others say no. Van Cleve recommends always taking the extra precaution to let your bank know where you will be traveling if it’s for more than just a quick trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new or overseas.
Adding travel notifications can help minimize the chances of your account being blocked or flagged for unusual activity. It will also allow your bank to better monitor your account and notify you if there is any suspicious activity while you are away.
Van Cleve explains that several banks, such as USAA Bank, allow you to skip the phone call and alert them of your travel plans through their mobile app or online account.
Myth No. 2: Foreign transaction fees are unavoidable
Most credit cards charge a fee for foreign transactions when traveling abroad, but Van Cleve says that you do not have to settle for this added expense. Banks, like USAA, and some credit card companies have eliminated foreign transaction fees for some of their cardholders.
Van Cleve recommends checking with your card provider to see if your credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees. While it may seem like a small cost to pay, he notes that these fees – which range from 1-3 percent of your purchase – can quickly add-up during a week-long trip away.
Myth No. 3: Last minute travel changes will always cost you
Nervous that your trip may get canceled last minute? In addition to zero-liability protection in the event your card is lost or stolen, Van Cleve explains that booking travel with a credit card is a smart way to protect yourself from other unpredictable events.
Some credit cards offer trip insurance and will refund you for the cancellation. For example, USAA’s VISA Signature card offers cardholders trip cancellation and interruption insurance that will reimburse you up to $1,500 for purchases made on the card.
Before booking your trip, Van Cleve recommends familiarizing yourself with your credit card’s full range of perks. You might even be eligible for hotel upgrades, delayed baggage insurance, price protection, priority boarding, rental car discounts and more.