Nothing can rob you of "don't worry, be happy" vacation bliss quicker than a credit card mishap that holds your cash flow hostage. Even the most cautious travelers can be prone to pitfalls. To help you prepare for your next trip, we asked our readers to share stories of credit card issues they encountered while . While some are quite common, others aren't as obvious as you may think. (Did you know in-port theft could happen even while your credit card is safely tucked away?)
Here are five credit card mishaps that could ruin your and tips help you avoid them.
1. Someone snagged your wallet in port.
Theft is one every traveler's greatest fears. Oh2Travel's cautionary tale follows: "Just returned from a (Wonderful!) and a two-night pre- stay in Barcelona. Yep, pickpockets are alive and well and in fact, thriving in Barcelona. My husband had his wallet stolen out a Velcro leg pocket his shorts. Mind you, we were not in a crowded area and he felt absolutely nothing."
Tip: Don't carry all your credit cards and cash in port; use your or hotel's safe. Only bring what you need, and keep it safely secured (preferably underneath your clothes) in a pouch or bag that can't be easily snatched. We also recommend keeping a list your credit companies' toll-free numbers handy, in case you need to report a lost or stolen card. quicker you call, better chance you have avoiding fraudulent charges and getting a replacement card issued.
2. You gave out your credit card number.
In-port theft is not limited pilferers who've physically nabbed your card. Rosemary Smarrito Stinsman writes: "I booked an excursion at Boatyard in Barbados and knew I should not have emailed my credit card number. Someone tried purchase $700 worth mobile equipment and Express canceled my card three days before ." Joyce King-Husistein also has a cautionary tale: "I had made a long-distance call in Cayman with my credit card, and operator tried to use it, which Visa caught, thank goodness. I thought we might be washing dishes for years."
Tip: While you can't always avoid giving out your credit card number while on vacation, it's not a bad idea to keep records your actual purchases and check your statement as soon as you're home contest any misuse. Plan make a phone call while ? Avoid collect calls calling your cell phone provider ahead time. Major companies such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile offer plans that cost a fraction what you'd pay in standard roaming rates.
3. You forgot notify your bank you're out town.
Monica Roberts learned this lesson hard way. "My credit union set a fraud alert because I made a purchase in Martin," she tells us. "They said they did not know I was out town." While it's good that your bank is looking out for possible fraud, you don't want to take time out from your vacation to convince your financial institution that foreign transactions they're seeing are legit.
Tip: Always let cards' operations centers know you'll be traveling eliminate chances a hold being put on your account. It's much easier call before you leave home than get stuck doing it during your .
4. All charges on your card are blocked because your port is on a fraud li
Another reason call bank ahead your : One ports on your itinerary may be on a fraud li Amy Anderson recounts a nightmarish experience in Cozumel, where she figured she'd use her debit card get cash out an ATM. request, plus others she made for incidental amounts (taxi, a round cocktails), were all rejected. Her credit union, she reports, told her that it was "declining all charges in Mexico due fraud." She was reduced wandering beach, looking for a generous-minded fellow passenger loan her enough cash pay her bar tab.
Tip: Although you don't need cash make purchases on your , it's a good idea bring some cash use in port. We recommend bills, which are easier handle for cab fares, bar tabs, tipping your tour guide, etc. If you do prefer using cards in port, double check with your bank before you make sure you won't have trouble.
5. You've reached your credit limit.
You know how you're asked hand over a credit or debit card for incidentals upon check-in? Beware: tap into your credit limit (or actual balance) in a oft-mysterious ways that aren't readily publicized. And their method could, unknowingly, cause you run short.
On , for instance, a hold ($100 on two- five-day and $200 on cruisers longer than six days) is authorized at embarkation. Each day, seeks additional authorizations based on what you're spending. At 's end, it settles charges and releases pending charges it has placed on your credit card throughout week. danger zone? When pending amounts are put back into your account is entirely up to your bank, not . If your bank is slow when it comes eliminating pending spend -- and essentially crediting money back you -- you may not have access what is left.
Writes Chris Myers, " end trip there were thousands dollars in charges sent credit card and we only had around $500 worth charges."
Tip: If possible, pay off as much of your credit card as possible before your avoid reaching your limit. If you don't plan spend much onboard, consider using cash establish your shipboard account -- which you can do on a number like , and .
Share your own lessons learned or cautionary tales in comments below.