May 24, 2016

Best practices for summer traveling. Protect your skin… and your savings.

Going someplace exciting this summer? You know the drill. Pack light, bring loads of sunscreen and of course, have the funds you need in tow.

We want to protect you from getting burned by scammers and unfortunate situations (which sting a bit more than the average sunburn). The best piece of advice: use your credit card when traveling for additional protection, security and peace of mind.

Booking Rental Cars or Hotels

Don’t use your debit card for renting a car or booking a hotel. There’s a simple reason for this that debit card users need to know: rental car companies and hotels put “holds” on the customer’s debit card that will deny them access to their own money.

Let’s say you travel to Florida for the annual family vacay. You rent a minivan and place your debit card on file for the charges, which will be settled at the end of your trip. You expect to pay $350 for the minivan. However, unbeknownst to you, the rental car company puts a hold on your debit card for $900.

It’s common for car and hotel companies to do this to cover breakages or damages that might occur to their property. Now, many of us theoretically understand the idea of holds on our cards. Most companies who do holds will tell us in advance that they’re doing it and how much they’re holding. With credit cards, holds are really not so much of a problem. A $900 hold on a credit card with a $20,000 limit means you still have $19,100 in credit to spend, assuming there’re no other charges on the card. With a debit card, a $900 hold on an account that has a $2,000 balance means you only have $1,100 in funds available for your vacation! Ouch!

Traveling Abroad

If you are traveling abroad, you’ll get your best currency conversion rates by using your credit card. This will prevent you from having to exchange your dollars at the airport, hotel or local marketplace at lousy exchange rates. Many travelers don’t know this, and it’s also a great protection to fraudulent charges or risk when traveling internationally.


Credit cards have fringe benefits in the fine print of their user agreements. For instance, if you are in a fender bender, your credit card company may cover your deductible. They also have travel insurances of one kind or another, from medical services to lost luggage reimbursement.

Play it Safe

You don’t need a “you’re out of cash” surprise on your vacation. Worse, holds that are placed on debit cards take far longer to remove than similar holds on credit cards. It’s an automatic process, but for some reason, debit cards take longer.

When you do travel this summer, also be sure to check online with the bank behind your credit card to see if they allow you to register your travel plans online. Many banks’ fraud detection systems will freeze your card if they notice charges outside your charge history. When you travel and charges show up from a strange place (otherwise known as your exotic vacation destination), you may end up having to call your credit card company to unfreeze your card! Debit or credit. A bit of understanding and planning can make your summer travel plans more of a breeze.

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