Photo credit: 123rf_ 9262665_johan2011
Photo credit: 123rf_9262665_johan2011

Few things are more stressful than running to catch a connecting flight…and then a snafu. This happened to me in Bangkok while trying to catch a flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand when the boarding agent asked to see the credit card I used to purchase the ticket.

Months prior, I had problems booking the international flight online so I tried several credit cards until one worked. But that was months ago, and I had no idea which one I used. I discovered that the card I needed was at home. No card…no flight…that was the policy. I had to cancel my existing tickets–and re-buy a new ticket at a little office somewhere else in this enormous airport. It was stressful to say the least.

This is NOT what you want to be doing when you should already be on your flight. Due to increased security for credit card information, card companies and airlines are getting very restrictive with their policies. As part of my series on Summer Travel Precautions, this is a crash course in the 4 credit card catches you need to know before you travel.

1. Call your credit card company before you travel.
It is imperative that you call your credit card company to inform them of your travel dates and location. Not doing so could result in a freeze on your card. The company will try to contact you if they suspect suspicious activity in a location that is not among your normal purchasing habits. If they cannot contact you to verify the purchase, your card may be flagged for identity theft and you will not be able to use it until the issue is resolved. This can be tough to do and time consuming especially if you are out of the country.

2. Be aware of foreign transaction fees.
Many credit cards, even business cards impose a 2-3% foreign transaction fee for purchases. Call your credit card company ahead of time to see which ones have these fees. Take the card that does not have foreign transaction fees as they can add up quickly. To find a list of foreign travel friendly cards, check out LowCards.com or Cardhub.com.

3. Bring two cards.
Use one credit card as your main card and keep one in the safe as a backup in case of an emergency. If your main card is lost or stolen, you still have one to use for hotels, meals and tickets.

4. Check airline credit card policies.
This information is found in the FINE print of your ticket receipt. Be sure to read it all as airlines continue to modify their policies on ticket purchases with credit cards. As in my case with Thai Airways, the fine print clearly said that I must present the credit card used to purchase my ticket before boarding…I just didn’t read it. Since you usually purchase tickets months before your trip, I recommend making a special notation (or a post-it!) on your trip documents so you remember to pack that specific credit card.

Credit cards make travel easy and purchases convenient. Taking these steps will ensure you have all of the conveniences they offer on your next trip. Be sure to check out my next article in the Summer Travel Precautions series on ways to avoid identity theft when you travel.