Credit or Debit Card? The Debate Continues….

I’ve written extensively about the advantages and disadvantages of using both credit and debit cards while traveling, but have overlooked one important difference between the two that I’d now like to address.

Simply put, credit card transactions offer consumers better protection from fraud than debit card transactions.

If someone steals your credit card Continue reading

5 Ways to Save Money When Traveling To Europe

These are difficult times for anyone accustomed to traveling across the Atlantic in the good old days when the dollar was as strong as an ox.

European travel now requires serious planning if you want to avoid breaking your bank.

Check-out these 5 tips for saving money.

1) Book an apartment instead of a hotel
If you’re going to be in the same area for at least a week consider renting an apartment.  They’re generally cheaper than hotels and can provide a more enriching travel experience.

2) If you do stay in a hotel, skip their breakfast
14 Euros for a croissant and a cup of coffee?  I don’t think so Francois.
Forego breakfast at your hotel and head out to a local bakery.  You’ll have more fun, save money, and eat better food.

3) Pick the right credit card
Almost all banks charge a fee for Continue reading

Car Rental Insurance: To Pay or Not To Pay?

Isn’t car rental insurance grossly overpriced, and can’t money be saved by booking with a credit card that provides insurance on vehicles rented with that card?

Yes and yes.

Sort of.

Car rental companies do make substantial profits by charging elevated rates for insurance, and it is possible to waive the insurance coverage when picking up your car (though some companies have stopped this practice), but I only recommend doing it in certain circumstances.

Vehicles rented in the United States should fall under your personal insurance policy.  Check with your insurance carrier before booking, and if you’re covered, then by all means decline the insurance offered by the rental car firm.  If you don’t you’ll simply be wasting money on useless coverage.

Many credit cards also offer primary insurance (if the card is used to book the vehicle) on cars rented in the United States.  Call your card company for details.

The rules change when you go to Europe. Continue reading

5 Money Saving Tips For Frequent International Travelers

1) Run, don’t walk, past currency exchange kiosks
Usually found in airports, train stations, and at border crossings, currency exchange booths
NEVER provide a fair rate of exchange and alwaystack on exorbitant fees.
Bottom line: Don’t even consider using them.

2) Do your homework when choosing a credit card
Choosing the right card can immediately save you 2 -3% on foreign transaction fees, provide a substantial boost to your frequent flier account Continue reading

Addendum: Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees

In my last post I listed two credit cards (Capital One and Discover) that do not charge a fee for foreign transactions.
I’ve since found another card I would like to add to the list.

1) Charles Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Card
In addition to no foreign transaction charges the Charles Schwab Visa has no annual fee and gives you unlimited 2% cash back on purchases, automatically deposited into a Schwab One brokerage account each month.  The APR is high, 13.24%, so make sure you don’t carry a balance and always read the fine print before signing up.

Travel Tip: Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees

Savvy travelers know that most credit card issuers charge an international usage fee (usually 2 – 3%) for purchases made outside the United States.  They do this, they claim,in order to recoup what they are charged by Visa and Mastercard, even though that fee is usually no more than 1%.

What does this mean to you?

Each time you make a purchase in a foreign country the bank that issued your card is earning an additional 1 – 2%, ON TOP of the 1% they have to pay.  Add to that a weak dollar and costly travel expenses, and jet-setting around the globe becomes increasingly less appealing.

I am aware of only two companies that do not charge for foreign transactions.  I’ve listed them below along with the fees charged by other well known banks .

If you’re the type of person who always carries a balance on your card, read the fine print.
It makes no sense to save 2 -3% on foreign transactions just so you can turn around and pay an APR of 13% or higher.

0% – Capital One
0% – Discover

2% – American Express
2% – Pulaski Bank

3% – Citi Cards
3% – Chase
3% – Bank of America
3% – HSBC
3% – Providian

Money: 3 tips

Current currency rates can be checked at:

1) The best way to access your money in France is by using ATM’s.  They’re easy to use, easy to find, and offer a better exchange rate than banks or money changing kiosks.  Just make sure your pin is comprised of four digits and does not begin with a zero.  Contact your bank or credit card company to ensure that the card will work in Europe and to confirm your daily withdrawal limit

2) Credit cards almost always provide the best exchange rate, though there is a foreign transaction fee, usually 1% – 3%.

3) American Express and Discover cards are not as widely accepted in Europe as they are in America, so if possible bring along another card, preferably a Visa or Mastercard, and always inform your credit card company of your travel  plans.