Credit CardsOne of the best ways to insure your trip is to pay for it by using a credit card. It will help you keep track of your expenses as you plan your trip,  and then while ON your trip, credit cards are the suggested form of payment for any purchases you make at any of the ports of call. For Europe, it will also need to be a credit card with a microchip in it or it may not ‘work’ (Anymore, Europe’s point of sale centers can not process your transaction without the chip in the card).

The credit card company’s policies will protect you from retailers that try to pull a fast one. If there ARE any problems with your purchase after you return home, you will then have some recourse.

CurrencyUsing credit cards also minimizes the amount of cash you need to have on you (this is especially important when you are on a cruise and you are only going to be in a country for one day). When the charge is made to your credit card, the rate charged for your item will be whatever the exchange rate is that day, not the merchant’s ‘version’ of the exchange rate.

ATMWhen you DO need local cash, ATM’s are the best place to get it, rather than a currency exchange, which will charge an additional fee. ATM’s are everywhere and you can use your ATM card to get local currency. Just make sure you have a 4 digit PIN code!

It is best to see if your bank has a sister bank in the countries you will be visiting. If you can find out ahead of time where those sister banks are, you will be able to save yourself a transaction fee.

MakingCallOne of the MOST IMPORTANT things to do is to contact your credit card company and let them know where you will be traveling to and how long you will be gone BEFORE you go (two weeks prior is sufficient)! In most cases, there is a whole department devoted strictly to vacation updates. ALSO, if YOU are traveling, but your spouse is NOT, it is important to let them know that as well – that way they know that there might be local charges as well as from afar.

If you are traveling with your spouse, it is also recommended that you both take a different card (and I mean a different account). If something happens to one of your credit cards, you will then have a back up card.

In your luggage (or other place separate from where you carry your credit card), you should also have a copy of your credit card (as well as your passport and full itinerary). Just in case something happens and you need to contact your credit card company, you will have ALL of their information handy.