Anyone from the United Arab Emirates who is going abroad for leisure or business reasons will probably already know that credit cards are the most convenient method of making purchases while in a foreign country.
Credit cards are more convenient, faster and certainly more secure than carrying around a lot of unfamiliar local currency, but there are some tips that should be kept in mind in order to avoid being fleeced when using credit cards outside of the UAE.
One good tip is to carry credit cards that are accepted all over the world.
Visa and Mastercard are two of the most internationally accepted credit cards, and it is very unlikely that any establishments in a foreign country will not accept them.
Although there is an international presence for other credit cards, such as American Express, there is a greater chance of some merchants not accepting them.
It is therefore of crucial importance to carry a credit card that will not be restricted in the foreign country that cardholders travel to after leaving the UAE.
It is also a good idea to carry more than one credit card when going overseas.
Technical glitches or a bank server responding slowly when a cardholder is trying to make a transaction may result in the purchase not completing, so anyone who does not have a back-up credit card could then find themselves stuck.
It is also important for credit card users to let their insurance company know that that are going overseas and that any transactions carried out via the credit card in a foreign country are therefore legitimate – otherwise, insurance companies could view such transactions as illegitimate and freeze the credit card account.
When overseas transactions are made with a UAE credit card, the amount is usually sent in the local currency to Mastercard or Visa.
Credit card networks make use of wholesale rates in order to have the charges converted into UAE currency and then sent back to the user’s bank.
There may be a small fee of up to a maximum of 2% added depending on the credit card type, but a number of businesses have actually programmed their credit card machines to allow travellers to choose between home or local currency.
Although the currency conversion may appear to be the cheaper option, travellers frequently end up paying up to as much as 8% more than they need to, so UAE travellers should be cautious of such schemes in order to avoid extra charges.
Many UAE credit cards offer free access to airport lounges in foreign countries.
These Priority Pass lounges may even include spa treatments as well as refreshments and can be a helpful place to relax during an exhausting journey overseas.
There are more travel benefits offered by some UAE credit cards than others, and making use of the right ones can offer greater peace of mind as well as a multitude of perks, including booking discounts and travel insurance.