Traveling: Why You Should Always Carry Credit Cards

Traveling with a credit card can make your life much easier, and can save you quite a bit of hassle when things go wrong. Many people who travel often choose to carry several different credit cards in order to maximize their travel experience and to earn all of the rewards that credit cards have to offer.

If you’ve ever had a plane delayed or canceled, then you know how valuable a credit card can be. It is a sad fact, but airline attendants, hotels, rental car companies and restaurants respect credit more than any other form of payment. For that reason, they are more likely to behave hospitably toward customers in the event of a problem or mistake.

Credit cards are becoming increasingly popular among travelers for these reasons, and if you travel on a regular basis, it might be in your best interest to get several credit cards for emergencies and for reservations. Even if your credit leaves something to be desired, there are secured credit cards available for helping customers to repair damaged credit.

Airline Travel

Airlines deal with hundreds of angry customers every day. Planes are delayed, flights are canceled, reservations are mistakenly entered into the computer system and luggage is lost. When you have not made your reservation with a credit card, there is no immediate record of the transaction, and the solution to your problem will be delayed. This is especially true when airlines are in danger of going bankrupt, which currently the case for many of the smaller companies.

In addition, many credit cards offer airline frequent flier mile rewards, which can be accrued to earn free flights in the future. The Delta Skyline card and the Chase Continental credit card are just two examples. While you use your credit card to make transactions run smoothly, you can also be earning free merchandise and flights. Even if you travel most often for business, you could be earning free seats for your family on a vacation to Hawaii or Orlando or California.

Rental Cars

In most cases, companies like Hertz, Enterprise, Avis and Alamo will not accept debit cards as a way to make your deposit. Instead, you have to use a MasterCard or Visa credit card. It is also better to use a credit card that offers rewards for travel, such as The Miles Discover card or Citi Bronze AAdvantage credit card. You can earn discounts on rental car prices and gasoline.

When you use your credit card to make a rental car reservation, you will have a clear transaction record and leave less room for errors. You can also call your credit card company and ask about travel rewards. Some require that you use certain rental car companies in order to accrue points or cash back.

Hotels & Lodging

A five-night hotel stay for just two people can cost several hundred dollars, so why spend it all out of your own pocket? Purchasing hotel reservations with credit cards like the Hilton HHonors Platinum credit card will help to cut down on lodging costs and make vacations or business travel much more affordable.

You can also earn rewards for staying in certain hotels, and use those reward points toward future purchases. Some credit cards offer cash back on purchases, while others render gift certificates to be used at participating merchants. Research some of the credit cards online to find the one that fits you best.

Lost Luggage

It is estimated that 87% of frequent travelers will lose their luggage at least once in their lifetime. Airlines, hotels and transport services are forever losing luggage; sometimes it is returned, and sometimes it isn’t.

Credit cards offer a helpful advantage over paying with cash or checks. Many credit cards come with Lost Luggage protection that ensures your baggage wherever you go. Rather than purchasing insurance for your luggage, you can simply use your credit card to pay for travel. Then, if your bags are lost or stolen, you have recourse.

International Travel

If you’ve ever visited a foreign country, you know how difficult it is to make currency exchanges. If you don’t bring enough currency and you don’t have a credit card, securing more funds will be difficult at best.

If you bring a credit card, however, you can use it to wire funds to the country in which you are staying. American Express, for example, offers a free service for international travelers in which customers can go to an American Express location and immediately wire money from their account to that location. The amount is then added to their credit card balance, and they can exchange American dollars for foreign currency at the same location.

In addition, many vendors will be reluctant to accept payment in any form other than credit cards. At most restaurants in France, for example, waiters are trained to serve American credit card paying customers exclusively. You are more likely to get quality service and you don’t have to worry about counting foreign currency.


Carrying large amounts of cash out of town is even more dangerous than carrying it in your home city. When you are unfamiliar with an area, you are more likely to get lost and you aren’t educated about the streets and sections of town to avoid.

Having a credit card makes travel much safer. You can use your credit card to pay for nearly anything, and you don’t run the risk of being mugged or robbed of the only money you have. If someone were to steal your wallet or purse – and your credit card along with it – you can simply call the financial institution and have it canceled.

Most credit card companies, such as MBNA and CitiBank, will even wire you a certain amount of money if your card is lost or stolen. Having a credit card will mean that you are always covered, and you can spend your vacation or business trip having fun rather than worrying about the safety of your cash.

Building Credit

In addition to all of the other advantages I’ve mentioned, using credit cards will steadily build your credit. As long as you continue to pay your minimum balance, you will heighten your credit score and have favorable reports. This will make financing a car, purchasing a home and securing a loan much easier.

Credit Cards have many advantages as long as they are used wisely. Never spend more than you can afford to pay back, and always keep up with your minimum payment. If you have questions or concerns about the specifications of a card, it is always better to contact the financial institution that rendered it.

Save Huge On Conversion Fees

Most travelers do not think of this huge factor in your travel expenses. If you plan on to travel to another country then expect huge conversion rates with Visa and MasterCard (up to 4% extra on some). With the U.S. Dollar down at all time lows it is best to save in any way you can. Most travel magazines advise you to go with Capital One with no added conversion fees or with American Express when you tour internationally.