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What you need to know about credit cards when you travel abroad

Let me share a credit card horror story. Before my sister Caitlan went abroad for the first time last summer, she asked her “credit card expert” of a brother which card she should bring with her to Europe. She followed my advice to a T and signed up for a card. The problem was, that was the only payment method she brought with her.

A few days into her trip, she called me, frustrated, because she had discovered that many merchants in Europe accept only cash. She was having a hard time finding places where she could get cash on her credit card.

I asked why she wasn’t pulling cash from her debit card. To my dismay, she replied that she hadn’t brought one. She thought just one travel credit card would cover her needs. My parents were able to FedEx

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  a debit card to her, but meanwhile she racked up a lot of cash-advance fees and related interest.

Credit cards are a great way to pay when abroad. They’re far safer to carry than wads of cash, they can help you avoid foreign transaction fees, they’re simple to use, and you can get rewards for your spending. All that said, they do come with their own risks, as my sister discovered.

But there are ways to mitigate those risks, or even avoid them entirely.

4 things to be aware of when using credit and debit cards abroad

1. Acceptance: Cards may not be as widely accepted as you’re used to here in the States, so you’ll need access to cash. Acceptance also varies by brand. Visa

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and Mastercard

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