You’re oh so excited about the family’s upcoming vacation. You are planning your daily outfits for yourself and the kids, what snacks you’ll pack and what movies you’ll play while traveling to keep the kids busy.
The last thing you’re thinking about is your financial identity. But…it’s the number one thing you should think about protecting on any type of vacation especially if you are planning on using a debit card during your trip.
For the most part we tend to use a credit card for all of the major responsibilities while traveling. You reserve your hotel room, use it for incidentals at check-in and even reserve a rental car with your credit card. Because you use your credit card for most stuff, you probably think its okay to use your debit card at a few innocent, common places. Travelers beware, doing so can place your entire financial identity at risk.
5 places travelers should never use their debit card:
- Gas stations. Scam artists can easily install skimmers/card readers on the card reader at the pump. They look entirely normal and with one easy swipe they have your card information and can use it to charge items and even steal your identity.
- Stand-alone ATM’s. In addition to higher usage fees, stand-alone ATM’s are normally not affiliated with any major bank and could also have skimmers installed. If you need to get cash from an ATM, use your banks app on your cell phone or tablet to find an official nearby ATM.
- Restaurants. Especially at smaller restaurants, an out-of-sight payment terminal could mean trouble. I’ve seen specials where waiters/waitresses have used hidden pocket skimmers to record your credit/debit card number to use fraudulently at a later date. Table payment terminals are not yet the norm (just at Chilis lol), if possible use cash and avoid the headache.
- Car rental counters. You can use a debit card to rent a car, but you have to have at least $350 on the card and that amount is held for 3-5 days (no exceptions). Why let someone ‘hold’ your money without earning interest?
- Hotels. Like car rental companies, when using your debit card, the hotel will put a large hold on your funds which takes 3-5 days to release. This hold is in addition to the money you would have in your account to pay for your hotel room. The money on hold could have been your spending money, souvenir money etc. Hold your own money and reserve your room with your credit card where the hold is usually only $25-$50 (go figure…lol).
If you don’t have a credit card to use while traveling consider obtaining a pre-paid debit visa card that is accepted at most retailers just like a credit card.
Happy travels and make sure you share this information with the travelers in your life!
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