Where I grew up, traveling seven miles to attend high school in a town of 2,500 was a big deal. The idea of getting around outside the US seemed impossibly expensive.
Are you traveling internationally this summer? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reduce or eliminate the costs for things like airfare, foreign transaction fees on your credit card, and roaming charges on your cell phone? Before finalizing your travel plans, read on. There are easy ways ways to cut costs when traveling in and between other countries.
In his Travel & Leisure blog titled “12 Tips to Make International Travel Easier,” Scott Mayerowitz offers a dozen tips he’s learned from experience. For example:
“I recently booked a ticket from southern Italy to northern Italy on Alitalia,” Mayerowitz writes. “The airline’s U.S. site wanted twice the price of the Italian site. I’m not fluent in Italian, but Google Chrome translated every page for me. I paid in euros, using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.”
Cut credit card fees
Speaking of credit cards, Mayerowitz says they’ll often give you the best exchange rates, but many “tack on a foreign transaction fee, sometimes as high as 3 percent.” Conversely, some financial institutions that don’t charge higher transaction fees boost the exchange rate instead. ECCU members traveling overseas are only charged the 1 percent fee levied by Visa, and they also get a competitive exchange rate.
I picked up a couple other tips about credit cards from Stephanie Barbre, a card expert at ECCU. First, it’s not a bad idea to carry two when traveling, in case one gets blocked. And some cards offer reward programs, which is technically a way of saving money.
You’ll also be interested to know that for ECCU member missionaries, the VISA Gold check card does not charge an international over-the-counter or ATM withdrawal fee. The card comes with the credit union’s Interest Checking account.
Another tip from Mayerowitz is super simple but can prevent pricey international data roaming charges on your cell phone. “I was in a remote part of southern San Diego last summer,” he writes with a hint of humor, “and my cell phone provider sent me a text alert welcoming me to Mexico. Apparently, I had jumped onto a cell tower in Tijuana. I immediately shut off my data roaming, turning it back on only once I was out of that area.”
Here’s a final tip that may not save you money, but it could prevent you from losing access to cash while traveling. Let your credit card company’s fraud department know where and when you’ll be traveling. “This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.” Mayerowitz cautions. He also says that if you change planes in a country where you’re not planning to stay, and get delayed there, inform your card company so they don’t view charges from that location as suspicious.
Hope these tips make your international travel easier and cheaper this summer.