Traveling to a Different State for the Holidays? Make This Credit Card Move First

It’s common for people to travel to see loved ones during the holidays. And given that more people are working remotely these days, there’s a good chance that some of those holiday visits have the potential to be lengthy.

A good 84% of Americans plan to travel for at least some of the holidays this season, reports the New York Post. If you’re part of that statistic, there’s one important move it pays to make before you board your plane or gas up your car and hit the road.

Let your credit card company know your plans

Any time you expect to be spending a significant amount of time outside of your home state, it’s a good idea to loop in your credit card company. That way, it can make a note of your plans. And that might spare you a world of hassle.

Credit card companies try to do their best to get ahead of potential fraud. So when suspicious activity is detected on your card, your issuer will generally freeze transactions until it’s able to get a hold of you and confirm that all is legit.

Let’s say you normally charge $1,000 worth of bills per month on your credit card, and your credit card company suddenly sees $5,000 worth of apparel charges in a single transaction. That’s the sort of thing that might raise a red flag. And so your credit card issuer might flag that transaction and prevent it from going through until it’s able to speak to you.

But it’s not just large purchases that have the potential to trigger a credit card fraud alert. Sometimes, something as seemingly innocent as filling up your gas tank or putting groceries on your rewards credit card in a different state could raise a red flag with your credit card issuer. After all, if you live in Michigan, why would you be visiting a supermarket in Massachusetts?

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Of course, the answer is simple — you’re there for a visit. But if your credit card company doesn’t know that, it might flag that type of transaction. 

That’s why it pays to let your credit card company know your plans before you travel for the holidays. If you’ll be visiting your parents in Maine for a week, say that. That way, you won’t have to worry about your credit card being denied at your old neighborhood supermarket when you try to pick up milk and eggs for your folks.

A good system with some inherent flaws

The fact that credit card companies have systems in place to spot fraud is a great thing. Sometimes, though, it can backfire in the form of denying transactions that you’re legitimately trying to make, like a $7 convenience store purchase.

Taking a few minutes to loop your credit card company in on your holiday travel plans could spare you a world of stress and aggravation. So once you’ve nailed down the details of your upcoming trip(s), make that important call. This is actually something worth doing every time you travel — not just during the holidays. 

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