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Is it good to use debit cards while on a vacation?

January 16th 2013

Gone are those days when one had to take either cash or traveler’s checks to spend money while on a vacation. Carrying a lot of cash abroad is not the safest thing to do. It’s also not a good idea to rely on traveler’s checks as using them can prove to be quite a hassle.

It’s now a lot safer and simpler to spend money while on a vacation using your debit cards. Because most people’s debt cards are tied to the checking account they use to pay monthly bills, secured credit cards offer the same conveniences as credit and debit cards with an additional measure of safety.

Debit cards and secured credit cards offer you a number of benefits, no matter whether you are in your home country or traveling on a foreign land. Given below are some of the benefits of using debit cards abroad:


  • Both a debit card and secured credit card allow you the option of withdrawing local currency from an ATM.
  • If your card is part of a network like Plus or Cirrus, it can be used in several countries.
  • Your cards cannot be stolen easily.
  • Unlike credit cards, they help you keep track of your expenses and stay within budget. When you use debit cards, you’re using money from your own checking account. So, once you’ve spent all the money in your checking account, you cannot spend any further or go over the limit. A secured credit card is backed by the amount of money you placed on deposit. That security deposit cannot be exceeded. This will also help you track and maintain your expenses.

What should you remember while using debit cards and secured credit cards abroad?

It’s quite simple and convenient to withdraw money from your local ATMs. But while you’re on a foreign land, you’ll be charged the following fees when you withdraw money from an ATM:

ATM Fees: When you are on a foreign land and use a foreign ATM to withdraw your money, you will be charged a fee, which can vary with location. Apart from this, your home bank will also charge you a fee for using a foreign ATM to withdraw money from your account.

Currency conversion fees: When you withdraw money from a foreign ATM, you are getting the cash in local currency. Your bank will charge you a currency conversion fee for this type of transaction.

How do you protect your debit card or secured credit card while traveling abroad?

Using these types of cards while traveling is a good option. But given the risk of theft and loss, you need to be careful while using them. Given below are some of the tips that can ensure safe usage of a debit card or secured credit card while you’re on vacation:

Keep your PIN a secret: When it comes to safeguarding your card, the first thing that comes to mind is protecting the PIN. Do not ever share the PIN with anybody and be extra careful while using it at the ATM.

Monitor your card activity: It’s important to keep an eye on your card activity even if it is not stolen. Check your balance regularly. Take advantage of online banking for this purpose. If you find anything unusual, inform your bank immediately.

Keep your card in safe place: When you’re not using your card, keep it in safe place. When you go out of the hotel and you don’t wish to use the card for that day, make sure you keep it your room safe. If there’s no such room safe, you can use the hotel’s safe and keep the card locked in there.

Keep limited balance in account: With debit cards that are attached to your checking account, it is advisable that you keep a limited amount of money in your account. Keeping a high balance is not safe as you may lose all the money if the card is stolen. You can keep most of your money in a savings account. When you need money in your checking account, you can always transfer the balance from savings account into the checking account.

What are the benefits of using debit cards while on vacation?

Don’t take out a lot of cash: When you’re traveling abroad, it’s easy to take out money using a debit or secured card. You may think of withdrawing money all at once so as to minimize the ATM and other fees. But, you shouldn’t withdraw too much cash all at once; take out just as much money as you immediately need. It is safer to keep the money in your account, rather than carrying it with you all over the place.

You have probably now recognized that travelling with a secured credit card in place of your debit card provides all of the same benefits. The secured credit card adds an additional layer of protection. If your debt card is stolen or compromised in any way, your checking account is at risk. With a secured credit card you have the benefit of separating the cards use from the account you manage the rest of your personal finances through.

A vacation can be fun, provided you take precaution to protect your money while traveling. Use your debit card safely and wisely to make your trip a memorable one. Otherwise, your vacation may easily turn into a nightmare that’ll haunt you for the rest of your life.

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