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Accumulating huge bills, combing Central Park in search of your credit card, or spending hours at a foreign bank are not at the top of anyone's travel itinerary. While we can't always anticipate travel challenges, it's best to be as prepared as possible.

Barrett Whiteford, Head of Credit Card Marketing at FNB, shares his tips for managing your debit and credit card spending and coping when your card is lost or stolen while you're travelling.

1. Consider the costs of overseas transactions
Simply swiping is not always cost-effective, especially when you're uninformed about hidden transaction costs incurred overseas.

“FNB (and most other banks) charge a cash withdrawal fee,” says Whiteford. “In some countries, banks charge an additional transaction fee for drawing cash at their ATMs. All banks charge different rates so you should first shop around."

“When swiping your credit card, the transaction will be converted at a spot rate for that day and a commission of 2,5% is charged," Whiteford says. Keeping an eye on spending and limiting ATM transactions can save money.

Whiteford suggests the following ways to keep track of card transactions:

  • Make sure you enable SMS notification services with your bank (set up international roaming via your cellphone company in order to receive these SMSs).
  • Keep all your slips for records of purchases.
  • Make sure you have access to online banking. Most hotels offers such a service.

2. What do do if you card is lost or stolen
If your credit card is lost or stolen while you're overseas, you will still be able to cancel it by calling the international telephone number provided by your bank. It is best to obtain this number before you leave the country.

"FNB Credit Card will make sure your card is replaced no matter where you are in the world. We will have it couriered to you, free of charge. However, the normal card replacement fee will stand," says Whiteford. "You can also get emergency cash up to US$5 000 to assist you while you wait for your card. When phoning to cancel your card, the call centre agent can assist you with arranging this." Check with your bank what services they offer.

3. The pros and cons of using your credit card overseas

Pros:

  • Convenience
  • Safety: you don’t have to carry cash

Cons:

  • Be aware of additional ATM withdrawal charges levied by some banks in other countries.
  • Be vigilant, as card skimming and cloning is an international problem.