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Credit Card for Backpacking

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Hi,

I am planning to go travelling round the world in a couple of months time and heard that it’s best to get a credit card for purchasing flights, making hostel reservations etc.

Does anyone know which one would be the best to use? I have never had a credit card before so not sure what to look for??

Thanks x

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  • dolphin1_2
    dolphin1_2 Posts: 31 Forumite
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    Try nationwide as I believe you don't get charged for overseas transactions
  • Degenerate
    Degenerate Posts: 2,166 Forumite
    edited 16 June 2010 at 1:46PM
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    Hi,

    I am planning to go travelling round the world in a couple of months time and heard that it’s best to get a credit card for purchasing flights, making hostel reservations etc.

    Does anyone know which one would be the best to use? I have never had a credit card before so not sure what to look for??

    Thanks x

    Best would be Santander Zero or Post Office Platinum.
    Nationwide Gold is next best.

    These cards give the best rates for foreign currency transactions - see the cheap travel money guide:

    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money?dd

    Unfortunately if you've never had a CC before, you're very unlikely to get any of them. You need to build up some positive credit history first. For a starter credit card, you're probably better off looking at this thread:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=2096485

    I must emphasise, never carry a balance on these cards, their rates are extortionate. This credit rating guide will explain more:

    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/credit-rating-credit-score?dd

    You may also want to consider applying for a Nationwide bank account to use their debit card for cheap foreign cash withdrawals.
  • Jane_Stollery
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    Thanks for the help. If I were to get a basic credit card, would i be charged for using it on the net whilst abroad to pay for flights/hostels etc? Or am I only charged if i actually withdraw money on it? Hopefully will not have to rely on it too much, just more of a back up plan. Does it make a difference if it's a Visa, Master Card or AmEx? Are any better than the other worldwide?

    Thanks!!
  • gogsboy
    gogsboy Posts: 527 Forumite
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    I'm no expert but the mention of nationwide Gold, does that mean it's an executive card?

    I had a basic nationwide card used to use that for when out the country and was no rip off fees etc and always charged at exchange rate at the time of purchase
  • Fruit_and_Nut_Case
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    When I saw the title of this thread I expected to find someone looking for an extra-lightweight easy-to-carry card to fit in a backpack. Doh!
    Are you for real? - Glass Half Empty??
    :coffee:
  • Degenerate
    Degenerate Posts: 2,166 Forumite
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    Thanks for the help. If I were to get a basic credit card, would i be charged for using it on the net whilst abroad to pay for flights/hostels etc? Or am I only charged if i actually withdraw money on it?

    Any card other than Santander Zero, Post Office or Nationwide will charge you a foreign exchange loading of 2.5-3.0% for any transaction in a foreign currency. Santander Zero and Post office are zero load, while Nationwide charge 1% outside of Europe.

    Normal purchases charged to the cards will be fee and interest free if you pay off each statement in full by the due date. You'll get charged a fee and immediate interest at a higher rate for withdrawing cash.

    Hopefully will not have to rely on it too much, just more of a back up plan. Does it make a difference if it's a Visa, Master Card or AmEx? Are any better than the other worldwide?
    Visa and MC have excellent acceptance worldwide, Amex is always a bit hit and miss. I would recommend have both a Visa and MC, as sometimes I have found the networks in some countries can be unreliable, and when one doesn't work the other may.

    If you can get the right plastic, you should think about using it as more than a back-up. The zero-load cards are the cheapest way to convert currency bar none, so should be used for as much of your spending as is possible. Read the travel money link I posted above.
  • Degenerate
    Degenerate Posts: 2,166 Forumite
    edited 17 June 2010 at 4:48AM
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    gogsboy wrote: »
    I'm no expert but the mention of nationwide Gold, does that mean it's an executive card?

    I had a basic nationwide card used to use that for when out the country and was no rip off fees etc and always charged at exchange rate at the time of purchase

    You can apply for Nationwide Gold and if your credit status isn't sufficient, they may offer you the "classic" card instead. However, looking at it it does state that the Gold card requires £25K income, so yes, the OP would be better to apply directly for the classic.
  • chattychappy
    chattychappy Posts: 7,302 Forumite
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    Good advice so far.

    Check out this thread: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=2178549

    I spend a lot of time overseas and once lived in a "popular backpacker destination". A friend of mine was the local consul and the same old stories kept cropping up. So here are some additional remarks:

    1) Make sure you can get online access to your account and you can make payments. I don't like DDs, but if you rely on them bear in mind things can still go wrong (eg fraud) so you need to keep a watch. Get someone to open your post whilst you are away. Post Office have the worst online system IMHO. Note, contrary to an earlier post you DON'T need their platinum card to avoid forex loading.

    2) Don't forget any cards you are not taking with you. Even if you pay them off before leaving, their could be trailing interest, recurring payments (CCAs) etc.

    3) Take backup cards. If travelling with a trusted friend, swap backup cards so you are less likely to get stuff stolen in one go. Even relatively expensive cards work out much cheaper than emergency money transfers with Western Union, Moneygram etc.

    4) Check expiry dates of cards before you go. I've never managed to get a card replaced "in advance" so as to have extended validity.

    5) A big source of scams/fraud is from other foreigners. Backpackers are usually well armed and on guard against local thieves - money belts, advice from guides etc. But it's easy to be too trusting of other westerners when you're in a far flung place. Some are backbackers who have run out of cash financing a trip home, others ARE home - they've settled (perhaps visa over-stayers) and finance their lifestyle through theft. Be particularly suspicious of anyone who appears to know just a little too much about a place, offers to help you buy stuff, is into drugs etc.

    6) I wouldn't bother with travellers cheques. But if you do take them, remember the "emergency replacement" guarantee is qualified if the issuer thinks fraud is a possible. If you lose them in certain "well known" backpacker haunts, almost certainly they won't replace them until you get home.

    7) Leave card numbers and emergency phone numbers with a parent. The CC card companies might not action a report from them - I've heard various stories - obviously they can't discuss private stuff. But if fraud is in progress it might help establish you did what you could. If nothing else, it's handy in case you lose the details and need to recover them and make the report yourself.

    8) Consider getting a card on a parent's account. It really could be alot easier for them to deal with any problems that way. They can always email you back PDF statements so you can keep an eye on things if you can't get normal online access. Reality is, so many backpackers start with the intention of financing themselves but end up needing support from parents. A bit of forward planning can enable this to be more effectively delivered.

    9) Chip+Pin is not universal. Some places use machines that depend on the magnetic stripe working and won't offer a manual alternative. Keep cards away from mobile phones.

    10) Once upon time "imprinters" were standard, even here. (Not seen one in the UK for years. Google "credit card imprinter" if you don't know what they are.) They are often used as a backup when there is a power cut. Be suspicious if asked to sign a voucher from one of these. You MUST cross out all the unused space around the figures, preferably write the amount and name of currency in words, and MUST keep the top copy, and MUST not let the card out of your sight. A common scam is to fill in the correct details but then add digits afterwards, so that bill for $7 becomes $97 or even $100 becomes $9100. A low credit limit is not an absolute protection against this kind of thing.

    Have a great trip!
  • Jane_Stollery
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    Thanks for all the advice!! Made me slightly apprehensive now!! Ha! Using parent's CC could be an option, although I'll have to endure my Dad's laughing for about an hour first!!

    I'm going with my boyfriend too - so would it be better to set up a joint account so that we can use that as a 'kitty' for all our living expenses? Or better to have our own? or both even?

    This may also sound like a silly question, but since I've never had CC before - how do you pay them off? Do you just transfer money from your current account kind of like internet banking? or can I set up a direct debit that will take the exact money owed from my account at the end of each month?
  • Geebee
    Geebee Posts: 3,081 Forumite
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    Korimurphy10309 reported to [EMAIL="abuse@moneysavingexpert.com"]abuse@moneysavingexpert.com[/EMAIL]
    If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them~Dalai Lama
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