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Summer Travel Essentials: Which Credit Card to Pack

[Monday, June 22nd, 2015]

If you’re going on a trip this summer, you might be making a packing list to make sure you remember the essentials: swimsuit, phone charger, toothbrush, sunglasses, fancy outfit for restaurants, loungewear for lazy days by the pool. But what goes in your wallet? You want to make sure you pack the right credit card for your travels, so you have the best vacation you can possibly have.

Most people have more than one credit card in their wallet, but bringing all of them on vacation isn’t always the best idea. If your wallet is lost or stolen, bringing just one or two credit cards cuts down on the headaches and red tape of replacing cards and calling credit issuers. So, evaluate your credit cards and choose one that has the following features:

• No foreign transaction fee. If you’re traveling overseas, this is a must-have. Foreign transaction fees will add up to 3% to every purchase you make. Many travel rewards cards have no foreign transaction fees, so make sure you have one of these if you’ll be leaving the country.

• EMV chip. These cards work by sending an encrypted signal to the payment processor, instead of relying on a traditional magnetic strip. If you’re traveling to Canada, Europe, or Asia, chances are it will benefit you to have one of these in your back pocket. Getting on a bus or other mode of public transit may not be possible without an EMV, or chip-and-PIN, credit card.

• Travel insurance. Many credit cards, particularly premium ones such as Visa Signature cards, offer travel insurance in case something goes awry on your vacation. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and things like car rental insurance and trip cancellation insurance can offer invaluable peace of mind.

• Concierge service. A great perk of a premium credit card is the 24/7 concierge service that many of them offer. This means you can call a number on the back of your card and be connected with a personal assistant who will help you make hotel or dinner reservations, offer suggestions for shopping or dining, give you directions, or point you toward the nearest pharmacy, bank, or shoe repairman. Whatever concerns come up on your vacation, your concierge will be able to help you, or help you find someone who can help you.

• Double or triple miles. If you’re flying, you may as well make the best use of your money by booking your flight on a credit card that gives you double or even triple miles for every dollar spent. This way, you’ll be able to take your next vacation sooner than your budget might otherwise allow. Many cards also give double miles on dining, and if you’re on vacation, you’ll most likely be dropping plenty of cash in restaurants. Make each dollar go further by racking up miles while you dine away from home.

With a little forethought, you can make your vacation even better when you pack the right credit card for your trip.

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