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Credit Cards

... tips on using your credit card overseas and a few things you need to be aware of ...

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One obvious way to avoid carrying wads of cash around when travelling, is to use your credit card. Whether you use VISA, MasterCard or American Express you will be able to make purchases and benefit from the policies, such as reward points, guarantees, insurance etc that your card may offer.

 On your travels you will however find that some cards are a lot more welcome than others. The main reason for this, is the amount the credit card companies charge merchants, which puts them off accepting the card or offer to pass those charges on to you by increasing the price!

 The credit card companies say that asking the consumer to pay a surcharge is against their policies and if reported that merchant will be removed from the network. We have seen this first hand, where a travel agent in Thailand was reported to American Express by an unhappy customer who was asked to pay a 5% surcharge because he wanted to use his credit card.

 The result - the agent was asked to stop this practice or be removed from the network, the agent chose to leave the network only to rejoin a year or so later without changing its policy in any way.

 The main problem with this practice seems to be with American Express, which, while it does offer travellers some excellent bonuses and benefits, is not, or at least does not seem to be from our own travels, the most popular credit card among merchants in Asia.

 For example in Hong Kong it is quite difficult to find restaurants outside of the major hotels that accept the card, many only accept VISA or MasterCard. In Thailand it is very common for the establishment to try and surcharge you, and this applies to all credit cards not just Amex.

 So, while carrying your credit card on your travels will help, it is not all smooth sailing, and cash is still very much in demand. Also read: Tips on using ATM and Credit Cards safely.

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