How to use your credit card wisely during your Eid getaway
The Eid break is almost upon us and 43 per cent of those polled from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are expected to travel during this period, according to a recent YouGov Ramadan Consumer Insights survey.
But whether you’re a frequent traveller or simply wish to escape the soaring summer temperatures, make sure you sort out your travel finances before you go.
While there is certainly a need to carry some foreign currency in cash, credit cards are generally considered a safer and easier means of payment abroad, as long as they are used wisely.
Here the team from the price comparison website Souqalmal.com offer their tips on how to manage your card effectively to ensure a hassle-free holiday.
Before you travel:
Check the basics first such as the validity of your card, funds in your account and the maximum withdrawal limit. Inform your bank or card provider of your travel plans at least a day in advance to avoid your payments from being blocked abroad. Take note of contact details of your bank or provider in case of an emergency and also let them know of your contact details abroad. In terms of charges, banks usually charge a foreign exchange (FX) fee for overseas card purchases. This is generally somewhere between 1 to 3 per cent of your total purchase. If the FX fee on your card is really high, opt for a card with a lower charge to use when travelling.
It’s advised to save receipts of all transactions such as retail purchases, hotel and restaurant bills or ATM withdrawals. Use these to crosscheck against your account and card statements later. If you lose your card abroad or it’s stolen, report the loss immediately to your bank and local law enforcement authorities. If you have multiple cards, avoid keeping them in one wallet or one place - that way if you misplace your wallet, you don’t lose all your cards at once. Remember to never share your PIN with anyone, including bank personnel, shopkeepers or hotel staff.
Credit cards, which are specially designed for travel, offer a unique mix of benefits such as air miles programmes, airport lounge access, hotel discounts and other travel specific perks. Before you leave, check out the benefits that can make your journey more comfortable.
If you travel frequently, sign up for credit card with an air miles programme. Your daily spends of grocery, utility bills and shopping will be rewarded with miles that can then be used to secure free flights, upgrades and discounts on excess baggage. Make sure to check the redemption rate and not just the earning rate on these cards. While some cards have miles that are tied up to a particular airline such as Emirates Skywards or Etihad Guest, others may offer a choice of miles programmes to be used for different airlines. Several banks currently offer introductory offers of sign-up miles or points that can be redeemed for miles with a particular airline or a range or carriers. The higher your sign up bonus, the closer you get to your free flight. Usually there is a minimum spend requirement which needs to be met within a particular time period or annual fees to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
Pamper yourself before you even reach your holiday destination at premium lounges in airports. All providers such as MasterCard, Visa and American Express provide access to airport lounges with their premium cards. Lounge access can be local, across the Middle East or global depending on the tier of your card. You can relax in a comfortable seating, enjoy free Wi-Fi access and an endless supply of food and drinks away from the chaos of the airport.
Another feature to watch out for is the discounts some credit cards offer on hotel bookings, dining and shopping. Premium cards will secure you more benefits, such as meet and greet services, airport chauffeur services and travel insurance. Again, check what your credit card offers before you travel. But don’t just sign up for a card for the travel perks, check what the annual fees are first to make sure it is actually worth it.
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Updated: July 4, 2016 04:00 AM