Paying with Plastic While Traveling
What you need to know before, during, and after your vacation
Travel season is finally here for many. It is the perfect time to escape the hottest couple of months in the UAE to enjoy a change of scenery and recharge for the next half of the year. Whether you are thinking of going away now, during Eid El Fitr or at a later point, we want to make sure that your vacation is as smooth as you planned it in your mind. So we at [newspaper/magazine name] editorial team enlisted the help of Anil Chander, RAKBANK Head of Cards, to answer some of the most popular questions travelers have when it comes to using their credit, debit, and prepaid cards while traveling.
Anil Chander - Head of Cards RAKBANK
Can I use my debit, credit, or prepaid card issued by a UAE Bank for international transactions while traveling?
Absolutely; MasterCard and/or VISA cards issued by UAE Banks are accepted globally for payments at merchant Point of Sale (POS) terminals and for cash withdrawals at ATMs.
If I pay by credit card, what are the benefits?
Whether it’s avoiding carrying large amounts of cash around or being discreet when opening the wallet to pay, cards are a convenient and safe way to make payments. The best part about using your credit card is the ability to track finances and enjoy the many benefits that come with credit cards including Cashback or other loyalty programs, and lounge access at participating airports worldwide. In addition, many cards also run promotions that entitle cardholders for a chance to win many prizes. Users of RAKBANK MasterCard cards for instance might be pleased to come back from vacation to find that they have been selected in the promo to win another vacation via a cruise with ‘Your Card to Cruise’ promotion.
What do I need to know about currency conversion?
When it comes to currency conversion, it is very important that travelers know their options. If you would like to carry a combination of cash and cards, then make sure to exchange the cash in your home country where you will normally get a better rate than in the country of destination. Alternatively, you can use cards like the RAKBANK Bayani prepaid card, which gives holders the opportunity to lock in dollars before the time of travel by loading a specific amount onto the card’s US dollar wallet. That comes in handy in countries that accept dollars. Alternatively, you can use your AED card to make payments. With RAKBANK MasterCard Cards, the cashback summer promotion ensures that the money you get back for international transactions comfortably exceeds the currency conversion fees on the cards, with cashback reaching up to 6% on international spends.
When paying with your card while traveling, you may find that merchants will give you the option of paying for your purchases in UAE Dirhams (AED) instead of the local currency of the country you are visiting. Please bear in mind that paying for your purchases in a foreign currency will almost always carry a better exchange rate than choosing to pay in AED. When you pay in AED, the exchange rate determined is at the merchant’s discretion. Also, you may lose out on earning Cashback or other rewards on international transactions as payments in AED currency, even if made abroad, may not be considered by your bank as international spend.
What do I need to do before traveling to ensure that all goes smoothly with my card withdrawals and purchases?
We urge people to complete the following steps before traveling.
1. Activate your debit, credit and/or prepaid cards and always sign on the back of the cards.
2. Ensure that you have received your Personal Identification Number (PIN) from your bank. Better yet, change your PIN to a number you can easily remember to avoid writing it anywhere.
3. Keep sufficient balance in your account for the kind of travel spends you anticipate during your vacation and bear in mind that you can always ask your bank for a temporary limit increase on your credit card.
4. Select two or more cards to take with you on your trip should you lose one of the cards.
5. Look up the emergency phone numbers for each card’s provider and store in a place for ready reference if required.
6. Check to see if you are entitled to medical and travel insurance through your card as well as purchase protection because you never know when it will come in handy. Besides the basic complimentary cover that some cards offer, customers can call their bank to extend the cover to ensure an added layer of protection during their vacation.
Do I need to keep anything in mind while traveling?
1. Don’t carry all your cards in your wallet but keep them in different places.
2. Save the emergency number of your card provider in an easy-to-access place.
3. Don’t write the PIN anywhere.
4. Be cautious when entering the PIN by ensuring that nobody is close enough to see it.
5. Do not let the merchant charge the transaction in AED. Paying in the local currency of the destination country is more beneficial.
6. Retain your purchase receipts.
What happens if my card gets stolen?
If you happen to lose your card do not hesitate to call the bank to block it immediately. Some Mobile Banking applications, like that of RAKBANK, even allow you to report a lost or stolen card through your phone. However, many people fear that if the card is not indeed lost but temporarily misplaced, then blocking it will run the risk of losing access to the credit card even if found shortly after. Please bear in mind that your bank may only temporarily block your card in such cases and activate it if you find it within a few hours. And if you indeed need to block your card, RAKBANK for one promises to courier a new one to you anywhere in the world within 24 hours. Finally, if you lose your card, check to see if it carries ‘lost card insurance’ that you can benefit from.
Why do I need to retain my purchase receipts?
Card users are urged to save their purchase receipts and withdrawal slips while traveling. That way you can cross check them with your monthly card and/or account statement to keep track of transactions made once you are back from vacation. In case you do not recognize any transaction, please consult with your bank to dispute the transaction and, in turn, your bank will assist you in recovering the money.