Credit Cards Abroad - Tips To Save On Charges

by : Joseph Kenny

One of the huge advantages of credit cards, and one of the many reasons they continue to grow in popularity, is the easy access they offer when travelling abroad. Not only can they be used with ease to book hotels or pay for car rentals, but they can also be used at cash machines around the world for instant and safe access to local currencies. They are also far safer than carrying cash, which can be stolen no matter where in the world you are travelling, and more convenient than travellers cheques which can often be difficult or time consuming to cash.

However, with this added convenience comes extra costs. When you use your credit card to make purchases in foreign countries you will be charged currency conversion fees and sometimes also, a loading fee by your credit card provider. This means that there can be two sets of charges added to every purchase you make while abroad. It can be frustrating to get home and find that along with each transaction there is a conversion fee of a couple of pounds and another loading fee also of a few pounds. While it is possible to get cards that have lower fees for foreign currency transactions, it is difficult to avoid these charges completely. Most people put up with them because of the sheer convenience of using the card but there are ways to avoid them.

One way is to take out cash from a cash machine with your credit card. The main disadvantage of this is that you will be charged interest on cash advances immediately, and are not allowed the usual interest free period which lasts until your next bill. However, if your alternative is to make lots of small purchases, with each one incurring its own separate charges, you may be better off taking this once off fee, then lots of smaller ones.

If you are organised enough, you can pay extra money onto your credit card before you leave, so that you will in effect have paid off the cash advance before you take it out, and thus avoid paying interest on it. Another option, if you have money in your bank account and an internationally recognised debit card, such as maestro, is to take out cash on your debit card. While this will incur some foreign charges, at least you will not have to pay any interest on the cash.

At the end of the day, for many people, being able to rely on using their credit cards abroad is a god send and the fees are a reasonable price for the convenience and security afforded.