SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

April 30, 2013 11:05 ET

Before You Travel, Follow These Credit Card Tips

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwired - Apr 30, 2013) -  Planning to travel abroad this summer? In addition to getting your passport, scheduling your itinerary, and deciding what to pack, BMO Harris Bank reminds you that one of the most important steps to take is to notify your bank. 

Here are some important tips to follow if you plan to use your credit and or debit card when preparing for vacation. While these recommendations are targeted for foreign travel, many of them can be followed even if you are planning to stay on American soil.

1. Contact your bank and credit card company before leaving so they know to expect purchases from a foreign country. Let them know when and where you are travelling. Provide them the dates you will be gone, and where you are going. The bank and credit card company will make a note in your file. That way, they won't be surprised when they see charges from a foreign country begin to hit your account.

2. When providing your card information online for hotel and sightseeing reservations, only use reputable, secure booking sites.

3. Keep documentation of your card numbers and your banks' customer service phone number separate from your actual card. You may need this information if your card is lost or if you have other difficulties using your card.

4. Carry a backup card -- you never know if your primary card will get lost, stolen, damaged, etc.

5. Research the country you are visiting and plan accordingly. While in the U.S. card acceptance is widespread, some countries remain very reliant on cash so have a plan for how your will obtain cash if needed. Generally ATMs offer more favorable exchange rate as compared to traditional currency exchanges locations.

6. Understand your card's fee structure. Most cards charge some type of foreign transaction fee or currency conversion fee. In addition, using a debit card at the ATM instead of a credit card will generally help you avoid credit card cash advance fees as well as higher cash advance interest rates.

"Banks and credit card companies constantly monitor customer card activity looking for anything out of the ordinary," said Kara Kaiser, BMO Harris Bank Regional President. "Contacting the card issuer prior to leaving for a trip will help them know to expect to see activity different from your normal spending pattern."

For more information on how to prepare your credit card to safely travel with you, visit:
http://usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/travel_preparation_faq.html

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and $542 billion in assets (as of Jan. 31, 2013).

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