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Credit Card safety

This is a bit of a silly question, but I haven't been able to figure out a sensible answer...

Of course I would keep most of my valuables in my money belt and keep only the day's spending money in a more accessible location (I'm thinking an interior pocket of my jacket or shirt). No big deal if it gets stolen.

However, since RS and others recommend using your credit card to pay for meals/purchases, and it IS a big deal if I lose my credit card, how do I manage this? Ducking into the ladies' room to get it in/out of my money belt each time seems impractical.

Posted by
505 posts

Greetings
Unless you are in an area known for pickpockets, it's fine to keep some money, debit card and a credit card in a wallet safely tucked in your purse or backpack. Most, if not almost all, European cities are safer than US cities, so normal precautions are just fine. To be honest, having to dig into a money belt will label you as a tourist and make you more of a target for pickpockets.

Frankly, it's almost safer to have a credit card stolen because most credit card companies won't charge you for any fraudulent charges and you can call from anywhere in the world to cancel a credit card. Lost cash is gone forever.

Just remember to have a bank/debit card to get cash, some cash to start with if you want and a credit card. That way losing any one item won't be the end of the world.

Kate

Posted by
1315 posts

I'm going to be in Rome--pickpocket Central from what I gather.

You're right about being able to cancel the card(s), but would prefer to avoid having to do so. But with a wallet tucked securely out of sight it sounds like it'll be OK.

Posted by
18 posts

One other credit-card related tip...keep a photocopy printout (both sides) of your credit cards buried in your luggage. This came in handy when my husband left his credit card at a gas station in France and we needed to quickly cancel our card. The emergency numbers were easily accessible and we didn't lose to much time in the process!

Posted by
223 posts

Liz,

Be sure to only carry whatever you can afford to loose in that wallet, even with it tucked securely away. My dad had a wallet lifted out of the inside breast pocket of his blazer and didn't feel a thing. The pickpockets are very good at their craft.

Roxanne

Posted by
360 posts

Each morning, I put enough cash in my wallet to meet all expenses during the day including lunch, museums & minor shopping. I carry a little more than I think I need. I usually return to my room to change for dinner & can then either replenish my cash stash or get my charge card out. In Europe, you may not be able to pay for small purchases or even some meals with a charge card anyway. If you plan to do some heavy shopping then carry the card that day. As mentioned above, you can always call it in if it's lost (or forgotton somewhere as I've done).

Posted by
1806 posts

Just another note - make sure you call your credit card company and your bank before leaving for Europe and let them know you are traveling - the dates out and back. If you suddenly try to withdraw money from the ATM, or charge, you may find yourself in trouble as the bank/credit card might freeze your account for suspisious activity!

Posted by
131 posts

I do all the same things but keep the credit card separate from the money. I try to take travel clothes that have good pockets and put the credit card and my license in one and the cash for the day in another (or my little purse). It's unlikely that someone could get into several of your stashes at the same time!!!!! I have come to rely on women's "adventure" clothing, made for climbing, etc. Sometimes I also divvy up the cash- keeping handy just enough for the next activity. I was in Rome 2 weeks and never had a problem!

Posted by
190 posts

Liz, tucking your wallet "securely out of sight" is not probably not all that effective. On the Rome subway and on some of their buses, I have had hands up my shirt and in all of my pockets, except the security pocket and they tried there. The only safe way to carry your credit card is in your money belt and not then if it is at your waist or under your shirt! Drop your money belt down your pants leg and use cash for all of your daily expenses. I don't use my credit card/debit card except for emergencies. I really don't understand why Rick loves his credit card so much, but different strokes... It is really what is comfortable for you and safe for your valuables. I have never lost anything, but there sure have been attempts. I would be much more upset to lose my credit card than to lose a day's spending money, partly because I would then lose a day of my trip reporting the loss to the company and then doing whatever to get a new card.

Posted by
2000 posts

One of the best defenses against pick pockets in my opinion, is not looking like a tourist, which means dressing to blend in. this topic has been discussed many times on this site. Many people say, "I don't care if I look like a tourist, nothing wrong with that -- I want to do it my way and be comfortable". Well that may be fine, but you stand out more as a targer. Theives know tourists are carrying around a bunch of money and credit cards. Why advertize.
I dress to blend in with other middle aged women in the cities I visit (Paris, mostly). It must be working because many French people come up to me and ask directions. Even so, I usually carry my credit card and large amounts of cash in a neck pouch. It is not difficult to discretely get it out. I usually carry my ATM card and some cash in a secure purse, and I act confident when out and about. It seems to be working, though sometimes I do have to look at a map. I have not encountered any problems in 5 European trips.

Posted by
576 posts

After having a friend get pickpocketed in Mexico City(who would have targeted a freckle-faced redhead there as a tourist?),we learned an important lesson. When he cancelled his only credit card,his wife lost hers,too(same account!)Suddenly they were in another country with no money!So we each bring credit cards that are from DIFFERENT accounts!We each also bring debit cards from 2 separate banks,in case something happens, like the magnetic strip being destroyed.We don't want to depend on any one way to get money...we each have at least 1 credit card and a back-up and one debit card and a back-up.Chances are that if you have most things securely stashed in a moneybelt and a day's worth of spending cash in an easier to reach location,you'll be fine.In Italy,almost everywhere was cash only or referred,making it easy to keep the credit cards tucked away.

Posted by
365 posts

Liz, some people may be able to pull off the "I'm a local" subterfuge, but that's a tough trick for a family traveling together. And even a local carries cash and credit cards and would have to dig into a pocket of some kind to procure same unless he or she is some kind of a parlor trick expert. So it's prudent to assume as a tourist (or a local!) you are a potential mark, your efforts to "blend in" notwithstanding. ALWAYS have your cash and credit cards in a ZIPPERED pocket, preferably in an internal pocket against your skin. This is why some travel pants are popular, and you can dispense with cumbersome money belts. Split the cash and cards in different pockets, keep copies of your cards and passports in your luggage. Don't accept that you might be a crime victim...dealing with a stolen credit card is a supreme hassle, a total downer, and a waste of valuable time when you're on vacation in a foreign country. You need to prevent it!

Posted by
8985 posts

Your right its just as easy for a pickpocket to steal from a tourists as it is from a local. But pickpockets specifically target tourists over the locals because tourists carry larger amounts of cash on them. Its not worth a thief's time and risk to go after a local. When I travel I also try to blend in when a bit I with the clothing I wear.

Posted by
1449 posts

I wasn't aware Rick recommended using a credit card for meals & purchases. In Europe many places won't accept a credit card for smaller purchases, so you might only be able to use it for dinner or more expensive purchases.

One other tip I haven't seen mentioned in this thread. Give a list of your credit card numbers, passport number, etc. to a family member or trustworthy friend back home. If worst comes to worst and everything is somehow lost/stolen, then you have someone you can call who can give you the relevant numbers, call to cancel cards, etc.

Posted by
3580 posts

I don't think RS advocates using a credit card for meals/purchases. I use my (Capitol One) credit card for hotels sometimes. I've used the card at ticket booths in train stations a few times. Otherwise, it's cash. I rely on ATMs, and haven't had a problem using them. I carry enough cash in my money belt to last for a week or more. I carry a regular billfold in a secure pocket for daily cash needs. I usually have a few Euros in coins loose in a pocket. Carrying and using cash helps me keep on budget. When I return home I am not faced with huge credit card bills and I don't regret spending money that will be difficult to repay.

Posted by
221 posts

besides the safety issues here, it seems this 'thread' is also examining budgeting. I try to travel only with the money I have saved (I put away money every month from my pay check for future travels) and pay cash for everything possible, using ATM cards and arriving with $2,000 or so that I exchange at the airport. Now that may freak a lot of people out, but I always use a neck pouch inside my clothes and am smart about taking it out, etc. I have never lost any money, been robbed or come home in debt..

Posted by
241 posts

It really helps if your cc provider allows you to look up your account on the web. that way, when you get back, or even during your trip, you can check your account daily or twice daily to see if your cc number has been stolen.

Posted by
29 posts

Elsewhere on this forum I read the idea of sending yourself an email with your credit card numbers and the customer service phone # to use when calling from abroad. I like that idea better than leaving the info with a friend, then having to wait for the time difference to call them for the info. I have also emailed my passport number to myself.

Posted by
1717 posts

I think all of these suggestions are very good. And I think this discussion topic is important, because being in Europe would not be fun if a person has no money or credit card. And,in Rick Steves' travel guide books, and at this website, he did not mention all the tricks for having and protecting and spending money in Europe. And, he might not want every person in the world to know where he carries all of his money. From my experience of traveling in many countries in Europe, I think Chere's method of having money in Europe is the best. But I carry less than $ 2000. in local currency. I think carrying $ 2000. in local currency is not dangerous, if the person will spend most of it within 24 hours, and if a person is not in a METRO train in Rome or Milan. I do not agree with Rick Steves' advice to carry a small amount of cash, and get money from ATM machines frequently. I do not want to depend an ATM machines in Europe. ATM machines in Europe are not reliable. (to be continued)

Posted by
1717 posts

In my recent trip to Europe, my Bank card was swallowed by an ATM machine in Stockholm Sweden ("Europe's finest city", according to Rick Steves).
I did not receive my card, or money, or anythiing.
But, I had another bank card with me, and I used it at an other ATM machine in that city, successfully.
I decided to not use American Express Traveler's checques again, because when I exchanged money from an American express Travelers' Cheque to the local currency, I was required to pay an extra fee equal to six U.S. Dollars ($ 6.) for each Traveler's Cheque, in addition to the Bank's commission fee.
I do not want to do that again.
(To be continued in my next message).

Posted by
1717 posts

When I prepared for my trip to Italy, in the year 2004, I heard and read about the Gypsy pick - pockets (thieves) in Rome and other cities in Italy.
In the book "Neither Here Nor There ..." by Bill Bryson, he said when he was in Florence Italy his Travelers Cheques (total value = $ 1500. U.S.) was taken out of a pocket at the inside of his jacket, by an adoelscent Gypsy girl, and Bill did not know it until the girl was gone. And Bill said he believes the thieves in Italy can receive cash for any Travelers' cheques that they steal. (The Travelers cheques are probably quickly received by a merchant in an other country, and deposited in a bank account in that country). And a person in my town said when he was in Rome he felt the fingers of a Gypsy girl in the rear pocket of his pants when he was walking into a METRO train in Rome (at the Central Train station). I felt frightened, and I used every precaution that I could think of, for protecting my money and cards and documents, in Italy.

Posted by
1717 posts

I even purchased "security socks" that have a small zippered pouch that I put paper money in. And I put an extra credit card under the insole in one shoe that I was wearing. And I put a Travelers Cheque and a paper with important information written on it (My Passport number, airline ticket information, Account number and telephone number of my credit cards, Travelers Cheques numbers, and Telephone numbers and E-mail addresses of hotels that I will go to, and Telephone numbers of people in the U.S.A.) under the insole in my other shoe that I Was wearing. And every necessary thing was in my neck wallet, under my shirt. I did not see or experience any thief in Italy. The security socks were made of a material that feels uncomfortable on my skin.
I will not mention all the places where money can be carried, because I do not want the theives to think about that. See my next message here.

Posted by
1717 posts

I think it is good that different travelers carry their money at different places, so the thieves in Europe will not think that every tourist carries his or her money at the same place. But I think the best thing to put money and passport and Bank cards in is a neck wallet. A "money belt" worn under pants, at a person's waste, is not comfortable. But a money belt worn under the pants is more secure than a neck wallet under a shirt : therefore a person may decide to wear the money belt for short periods of time, at places of high risk for theft by a pick pocket (METRO train in Rome). For most other places in Europe, the neck wallet is sufficient. The silk neck wallet, for sale at this webiste (Travel store) is the best neck wallet that I have seen. It has two zippered compartments. And I recommend also carrying an extra credit card and local paper currency and travel document information and telephone numbers, at another location on your person. (not in a bag or purse). Enjoy Europe

Posted by
354 posts

In addition to my money belt, I carry a small day bag, which holds my camera, a little cash, a credit card, snacks, pen, notepad, subway tickets, etc. As a precaution, I wear the day bag's shoulder strap diagonally across my body, and then secure the zippers with a wire twist-tie. For added security, I grab the bag's handle when walking among a crowd of people (subway, large tourist area, etc.). This system has worked well for me during my European trips.

Posted by
5 posts

Do folks suggest having photocopies of credit cards in suitcases? If a hotel room is broken into, then the credit cards are compromised. What's the greater risk - not having the number locally to report if a card is lost or stolen or having the account info in an insecure location (hotel room)? I'd certainly leave all the account info with family at home.

Posted by
934 posts

I dont agree that Moneybelts are uncomfortable.My wife and I are 70&69 and 11 years ago on our first trip learned to wear moneybelts.We wear them in back and the only problem we had was we couldnt feel them although they were there under our clothing.Credit cards will rarely be used during the day as most purchases require cash.At night for meals or to pay a hotel bill it is easy to get the credit card out.