Savvy users: If you plan to use your credit card or debit card outside of your home state, it is always a good idea to give your credit card company and/or bank a call. Let them know to where and when you will be traveling. This will ensure you have access to your money by avoiding a suspicious alert on your card. Additionally, sometimes credit issuers will offer lower interest rates if you are traveling or increase your limit to guarantee you have funds available if they are needed for an emergency. Stick to one or two credit cards when away on vacation so you can easily track how much you spent during your travels. This will help you budget for future vacations and realize the impact of all those spontaneous tchotchke purchases. Also, be sure to review all credit card statements when you return home for accuracy. Keep an eye out for double billing issues and fraudulent charges.
Pros: You can avoid big credit card bills after vacation by carrying cash to your destination. If you are on a budget, cash will limit your purchasing power, making certain you don’t overspend. In many cases, cash will also enable you to barter with local vendors for a better deal on that must have souvenir for Aunt Martha.
Cons: Carrying cash can be tricky. Either you need to carry all the cash you plan to use or you need a means to get more cash out of your bank account, typically with an ATM. While most vacation spots now have local ATMs available for travelers, be aware that there will likely be additional fees beyond any fees your bank may already apply. Check with your bank ahead of time to locate bank-affiliated ATMs near your vacation spot so you can minimize ATM fees. ATM fees are often increased in foreign countries, so educate yourself before you use your debit card while abroad. Using cash also makes it difficult to track your spending. Unless you write down each purchase and keep every receipt it will be tricky to retrace your steps to account for every penny.