Ways to Keep Your Credit in Check While on Vacation

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The beauty of going on vacation is the promise of a carefree experience void of everyday concerns. A sure-fire way to taint your trip is to charge more than you can afford. Don’t let this happen to you. Include in your vacation plans the following steps for keeping your credit in good shape.

Save Up For Your Vacation

Just because you have the available credit to charge a trip to your credit card should in no way suggest it’s a good idea. The only exception is if you have enough cash in the bank saved up to pay off your credit card balance before the end of the month. Otherwise, you’re looking at interest charges. You could let it slide for a month or two, choosing to eat the interest, but be careful. It’s a slippery slope, in that a couple of months can easily stretch into six, even a year, costing you hundreds of dollars in interest fees that could have bought you a second vacation! The solution: Plan ahead of time, selecting a date for your vacation based on when you’ll have saved enough money to pay for it outright.

Stick To Your Budget

Saving cash for a vacation does little good if you end up charging much of it to your credit card. Sit down and do the math. Add up the cost of your airline tickets, car rental, hotel stay, food, entertainment, and “fun money” for souvenirs and such. Failing to budget is likely to mean charging more to your credit card than you bargained for.

Budget For The Unexpected

In the event that you need to return home early, make sure you incorporate into your budget enough to cover any added expense of changing your travel plans. While it’s great to be able to charge something like this to your credit card, it’s better if you have the cash in the bank to cover the cost by end of the month.

Research Your Credit Card Rewards Programs

Many credit cards come with perks that can come in handy on vacation. You may have airline miles racked up, or your card may cover the cost of a rental car, for example. So before you spend, research your credit card rewards program thoroughly. And if you’re in the market for a new credit card, allow this to be one of the deciding factors (a low interest rate among them).

Pre-Pay Monthly Bills Before You Leave For Vacation

One way it’s possible to wreck your credit on vacation has nothing to do with using your credit cards at all. Forgetting to make a monthly car payment or mortgage payment, for example, may mean a late payment or missed payment listing on your credit reports. And all it takes is one of these negative listings to hurt your credit score considerably, especially if you have a history of paying on time.

Take Only One or Two Credit Cards With You On Vacation

When you’re on the road, the fewer cards you have to keep track of the better. That way, if they’re lost or stolen, it’s a smaller hassle to deal with in terms of canceling the cards, and a smaller liability in the event you are a victim of identity theft. Just be sure to write down and leave with a friend or family member the account numbers and credit card company phone numbers of the cards you are taking with you. This way a quick call to them can help you immediately call the appropriate number to report the loss or theft and cancel the cards.

Notify Your Credit Card Providers of Your Travel Plans

When credit card issuers see credit cards being used in unusual locations, they usually place a hold on the cards just in case such activity is a result of theft. For this reason, it’s very important that you contact your credit card companies before you leave to let them know where you’re going and when. Even if you’re only taking your credit cards along “just in case,” it’s in an emergency situation when you least need to discover your credit card has been frozen.

Apply For a Credit Card Without International Transaction Fees

Many credit cards come with transaction fees for purchases made overseas. These fees usually range anywhere from 2 to 3 percent of the purchase price. However, there are credit cards out there with no such fees. So if you’re planning a trip internationally, it may be worth applying for one.

Check Credit Card Compatibility With Foreign Merchants/ATM’s

If your travel plans are taking you abroad, ask your credit card company about getting a card compatible with merchants and ATMs that only accept microchip technology. Fees like these add up quickly, inflating the price you’re really paying for your purchases.

Following these easy steps will make your vacation less stressful before you leave and after you return. Who wants to return from an awesome vacation to face worries about your credit and how much money you overspent. Using these easy tips will make your vacation one to remember for all the right reasons.

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