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Using Your Credit Card Safely Abroad

As an expat living in Thailand, I’m certainly no stranger to credit card use abroad. I hadn’t thought about writing a post about international credit card use, but thankfully one of the Money Infant readers had the idea and wrote up this helpful little post about using credit cards when traveling. This post is specific to international credit card use in the UAE and Egypt, but it would be equally valid in Thailand and much of SE Asia as well.




Credit cards and shopping fit like a hand in a glove. A credit card is particularly handy when you’re on holiday, especially if you’re on a shopping trip to somewhere like the UAE, with its tax-free shopping, or to Egypt to soak up the sun and witness inspiring attractions.

These flexible friends have several benefits, but also carry certain security risks. Not that this makes them a liability, but you should take precautions when using them.

Let’s take a look at some of these benefits when traveling to countries like the UAE and Egypt, and what you can do to protect your credit card while you’re traveling.

Why You Should Use A Credit Card Abroad

  • Protection — most credit cards offer protection against loss, theft or damage, giving you peace of mind while you’re traveling. Check your card’s terms and conditions, though. They vary from provider to provider. Credit cards from banks, such as, HSBC usually offer these perks.
  • ATM usage — rather than changing money constantly, you can withdraw local currency from ATM’s with your credit card. You’ll have to pay a charge when you withdraw the money, though.
  • Convenience — you can pay for large purchases without needing to carry large amounts of cash.
  • International usage — most places across the world take credit cards. If you don’t have cash on you, you can pay by credit card.

Safe Credit Card Use Abroad

The UAE has become a popular tourist destination, thanks to its duty free shopping perks and the Dubai International Shopping Festival. Oh and there’s also the warm weather, of course. Meanwhile, Egypt is enjoying a great deal of tourism, with visitors looking to enjoy the sun and test their haggling skills on the market sellers.

A credit card with the name The Protected Card

Here’s how you can use your credit card safely while out there:

  • Avoid using your credit card in small shops — these tend to be involved in a higher rate of credit card fraud. Not only that, it’s not easy for banks to trace the merchant.
  • Don’t use your card at market stalls — market stalls tend to use old-fashioned methods of accepting credit card payment, if they accept them at all, and the details can easily end up lost or stolen from them. If you’ve haggled down the seller, use your card and you could end up paying dearly for your ‘bargain.’
  • Keep your credit card in view when paying — you can eat out in Dubai for a reasonable price, but if you do need to pay by card, don’t let them take your card away. If you do, they can make a copy of the details — and then use them later.
  • Only use bank-owned ATM’s — if possible, use the ATM at the branch of a bank. Other cash machines tend to be poorly encrypted and, consequently, less secure.

Traditionally, the UAE and Egypt have been more cash societies, but both are gradually warming to use of the credit card. This is especially so in the UAE, where the large expat population has influenced certain trends considerably. Take note of the tips above and you can make the most of your credit card. More importantly, you can make the most of it safely to shop till you drop. Happy holiday! For more information about the use of credit cards you can click here.

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