Overseas Credit Card Woes - The Mozo Survival Guide

Arm yourself against excessive international fees, skimming, and the aftermath of card theft with our pre-holiday checklist.

Tip #1 - Touch base with your credit card provider

Credit card issuers are now clued up on the slightest signs of identity theft, and a sudden series of international transactions will raise a red flag. Problem is, your account might be deactivated or flagged for possible fraud. Such diligence is great if you do experience a thieving disaster, but if the only credit culprit is you, you might find your card being denied just as you're picking up a dinner bill or making that essential holiday purchase. Before you head overseas, contact your credit card issuer to let them know of your plans. Keep them in the loop, and you'll stay flush with funds.

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Tip #2 - Establish proof of life

It's a worst-case scenario, but if you lose or have your credit card stolen, having it replaced will be much easier with ID. And if that gets swiped too, you'll need to fall back on some savvy planning. Scan your passport and driver's licence and email them to yourself, or place password-protected files on a thumb drive so you can access copies in case your essentials are lost or stolen - you'll be able to re-establish yourself more quickly in an emergency.

Tip #3 - Know your limits

The finger-on-the-financial-pulse Mozonian will have a firm grip on her available credit, but even the bank-geekiest of us may not know how many transactions we can make in a day - or whether there's a daily spending limit. Since you never know what you're in for overseas, it's best to know how much you can get out (of your bank).

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Tip #4 - Pin it down

Chip-and-pin cards are catching on here, but in Europe, for example, they're industry standard, and some merchants only process transactions using microchip technology. If you're used to swiping and signing away your funds, and have never even opened the slip containing your credit card pin, it's time to commit it to memory. (Or better yet, change it to a number you will remember, like Mozo's birthday.)

Tip #5 - Avoid withdrawal symptoms

Since making withdrawals on foreign ATMs and purchasing up a credit card storm all carries international charges, it can be much cheaper to withdraw more money than you might at home, store it in your hotel safe, and pay for those myriad daily expenses in cash. Just make sure to mind your wallet, and to take some Indecent Proposal holiday snaps with your wads of foreign currency.

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