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There is no doubt that having a credit card can make traveling easier. From reducing the need to carry cash to the inclusion of vital consumer protection, credit cards provide much more than convenience for travelers.

In fact, credit cards are so important for travel that renting a car or booking a hotel room can be nearly impossible without that little piece of plastic. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you will want to pack a credit card in your wallet, but you will also need to protect it from misuse. Here are some credit card protection steps to take if you will be traveling soon.

Take a Snapshot of Your Recent Charges

Chances are you will be using your credit card a great deal while on vacation or during your next business trip. You might have dozens of transactions during a relatively short period of time, and the sheer volume of charges could make spotting fraud more difficult.

Before you leave home, take a snapshot of your current charges and accumulated balance, either by taking a screenshot with your phone or downloading the data to a spreadsheet on your computer. Then when you come home you can easily compare, watching out for fraudulent charges that may have happened since you left home.

Record the Customer Service Phone Number

Hopefully all will go well on your trip, and your credit card will remain safely ensconced in your wallet. Even so, it pays to be prepared, and that starts with recording the customer service number for the card issuer.

Having that information at the ready will make your life easier, and potentially less costly, should your credit card be lost or stolen. You can easily save the phone number to your list of contacts just in case.

Memorize the Account Number if You Can

Having the customer service phone number with you will make your life easier should the unexpected happen, but you can make things even easier by committing the actual account number to memory. Having the account number if your card goes missing will speed the replacement process and make filing a fraud alert a lot easier, so put your brain cells to work before you leave home.

If memorizing all sixteen digits is too difficult, at least commit the last four digits to your brain. In most cases the issuer will be able to look up the account with that information, especially if you can also provide the last four digits of your Social Security number to the representative.

Inform the Issuer of Your Travel Plans

Credit card issuers have sophisticated algorithms in place, all aimed at detecting fraudulent activity and shutting it down before it can harm their clients or their bottom line. One of the things those algorithms look for is a sudden influx of charges from a new location, and that is why it is so important to notify the issuer of your upcoming travel plans.

If you fail to put a travel alert on your credit card, the very algorithms that would normally protect you could end up ruining your vacation. You do not want to have your credit card declined at the fancy restaurant or in the hotel lobby, so let your credit card issuer know when you will be leaving home and when you expect to return. When alerting the issuer, be sure to include:

•   Your planned departure date

•   The anticipated day when you will be returning

•   Travel destination(s)

Protect Your Card with an RFID-Blocking Wallet

The newest batch of credit cards come with a slate of security features, all designed to protect cardholders and the banks. Unfortunately, the chips embedded in those new credit cards can be compromised by enterprising thieves, even if the card itself remains inside a normal wallet.

With an RFID reader tech savvy criminals can steal the information on a credit card, and being in large crowds will put you at higher risk. If you plan to travel, do yourself a favor and protect your credit card with an RFID-blocking wallet. These special wallets are widely available and inexpensive, and using one can provide you with an extra layer of protection.

Consider Packing a Backup Credit Card

Last but not least, it is a good idea to pack an extra credit card, one you can use in case of an emergency. Having a backup credit card stowed in your carry-on or safely ensconced in a second wallet is a trick frequent travelers use to keep themselves protected on vacation.

The same precautions apply to those secondary backup credit card. You should record the customer service phone number before you leave home, set up a travel alert and memorize as much of the account number as you can. Putting that backup credit card in a wallet that blocks RFID signals is important as well, so pack carefully to protect yourself and your money.

Credit cards provide vital protections for both business and leisure travelers, but it is important to take some basic precautions. If you have travel plans in the near future, the protective measures listed above can help you stay safe while on the road.