Preparing Your Wallet for a Better Trip: Sound Travel Advice – by Jack Hojnar


Warming temperatures. Longer Days. Sprouting foliage.

For some, such moments of the blossoming year afford the chance to get away, to vacate ourselves from the burdens of a long winter. As Tennyson so simply expressed:

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast; In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

No doubt much of Lord Tennyson’s sentiment lives on – Florida’s coast and the beaches of Corpus Christi, TX – certainly understand the powerful force the changing climate can create. But college Spring Breakers aren’t the only ones in need of livelier environments. The US Bureau of Transportation (USBT) cites the end of March as the beginning of an increasing travel season where the majority of people traveling are 34 years old and older. Hardly the set getting in line for $1 Drink Night.

With this being the beginning of the travel season (the peak, per the USBT, being Thanksgiving and Christmas), several publications from the New York Times to regional blogs pepper consumers with hotel recommendations, cites to see, apps to download and other forms of advice designed to make travel easier and enjoyable. Some suggestions even go so far as to promote the best credit card to use for travel. But in nearly all of those cases, the cards these bastions of social commentary to use are solely those cards with obvious travel perks such as reward miles and points. Unless you are a die-hard traveler who prefers to buy Girl Scout cookies using your credit card so that you can eek out that extra mile for that free ticket to San Francisco, then those travel-perk cards aren’t always the best for you.

For the common traveler, one who occasionally gets away from the house or out of the office, those perks don’t mean much when the airline can’t find your luggage, you lose your passport, or even worse, your rental car is rear-ended on the way to the beach.

Fortunately, traveling with the proper credit card can make even the infrequent traveler feel like a frequent flier.  For more than 15 years, many credit card providers from popular banks to credit unions offer simple travel perks designed to make your travel easier, safer and more enjoyable. So when you begin to make travel plans, be sure to pay attention to the following recommendations:

1. Call Your Credit Card Company

Be sure when you travel to let your credit card company know that you will be away from home. This way, when you start making multiple charges in distant locations, your credit card company will know it’s likely you are making those purchases and not some thief.

2. Check the Fees Associated with Using Your Card While Traveling

Some credit card issuers charge fees for various events. Specifically issuer can charge more for cash advances and foreign transaction fees in faraway places. Know those fees to limit any end-of-month statement surprises.

3. Confirm the  Benefits Available  On Your Credit Card

Unlike travel perks such as reward points and miles for using your card, many card issuers provide complimentary travel benefits with your card.  Benefits such as Auto Rental Collision Damage Coverage, Lost Luggage, Trip Cancelation and others allow travelers who experience a form of loss – such as the airlines losing your luggage – to recoup part of all of that loss.

Other card issuers offer Concierge Services that can assist with booking flights, making hotel reservations or even purchasing tickets to events such as concerts and plays. Be sure to check with your card provider to determine the specific Travel Benefits you may have on your cards.

4. Save Your Credit Card Receipts and Any Other Transaction Information

Should you ever have to file a claim with your credit card company for some form of loss – cancelled trip, lost luggage, etc. – your receipts will make the claim process much easier and faster.

5. Limit the Number of Cards You Use

If possible, use only one credit card while on your trip. Even if you were to take only one card and unfortunately lose that card while traveling, many card providers offer emergency card replacement, allowing you to be back in full plastic-spending glory within 24 hours.

6. Store Your Bank’s Phone Numbers as a Contact in Your Phone

Many people get leery of this advice but remember that – for most banks- no one can authorize transaction information on your cards without proper and stringent verification. By storing bank contact information on your phone, you can always contact your bank should your wallet or cards become stolen.

Perhaps Tennyson would write today, “In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of selecting the best credit card for his vacations” .

By: Jack Hojnar