How to Save on Credit Card Fees While Travelling

By Randell Tiongson on April 17th, 2016

airline cards

More and more Filipinos are starting to travel. Decades ago, travelling to neighboring Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan was a challenge. Experiencing European culture and going on a trip to the 28-member states of the European Union might have been impossible. Nowadays, these are becoming more realistic. Filipinos are allotting more of their financial resources to traveling overseas because a trip abroad is a great way to de-stress from the daily 9-to-5 grind.

Travelling may have become more accessible and affordable, but there’s still no denying it takes a chunk of your expenses. If you’re planning to travel overseas, you’re probably thinking one, two, or all of the following when it comes to your budget:

 Should I have my entire budget converted to the local currency?

How much cash should I bring?

Is it safe to carry my money in cash?

Is it better to pay in credit card or cash?

If I pay in credit card, what fees will I pay?

There’s no denying that when it comes to convenience, credit cards (versus cash) win over cash. There’s no need to carry stacks of bills wherever you go; however, credit cards, when used improperly, can increase your expenses.

Here are tips on how to use your credit card while abroad to save money and to avoid paying fees:

Know the fees beforehand

Credit card providers usually charge an assessment fee (for converting your currency) and a service fee for overseas credit card use. Fees may vary; some credit card issuers may charge 0.75% or 1% for the assessment fee and another 1% for the service fee. Other providers may charge above 3% for both fees. Before you travel, know the exact fees you’ll be paying when you use your credit card.

If you have a trip planned months before your scheduled departure, you can even look for the credit card with the lowest fees and apply for a new one. Comparison websites, such as, allows you to compare and filter different credit card features according to your preferences.

Use it for big-ticket items

It’s scary to carry large amounts of cash, so it’s preferred to pay in credit card. Since you’re paying assessment and service fees, avoid using your credit card for every transaction. Limit it to big buys wherein carrying plastic is safer than cash, and leave your card in your hotel or AirBnB safe. The assessment and service fees are a small price to pay for ensuring your money is safe. Unlike cash, if your credit card is stolen, you may report the theft and have your money refunded.

Brush up on exchange rates

When abroad, establishments usually ask if you want to pay in your local currency or the currency of the country you’re in. This can either add or subtract your expenses. Even though the difference of the amount you’ll pay in one currency versus the other is almost negligible, it’s best to know the daily exchanges rates in the country you’re travelling to. Know which currency costs less and save the difference.

A credit card is a convenient means of carrying money while abroad. There’s no need to carry bundles of cash and fear losing your money in a place away from home. As long as you keep track of your credit card expenses and spend wisely, credit card use is beneficial. Treat it as money that you already have instead of money that will come. This means that you only spend the amount you can afford to pay rather than letting your credit limit dictate your credit card use. Use the tips above to save on credit card fee while travelling.


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How to Save on Credit Card Fees While Travelling