Living with credit

Back from Europe

Emily Crone

Well, I survived my two-week trip to Greece and Italy. I feel especially grateful for this considering I flew Air France just two days before the crash, which included a connecting flight to Paris. I did get one scar, though on my right shin from a comedic collision with a bicyclist in a busy Florentine piazza, but at least I have some great stories to tell.

Emily in Europe thinking about credit cards.

Before heading to Italy, I was warned by many about gypsies and the sneaky tactics they use to steal money. My sister, who was my travel partner, and I were pleasantly surprised to spend a week in the country without any gypsy encounters. Even better, we only encountered one pay toilet; last summer when I went to Europe, I found them all over the place.

My Capital One credit card, which I use for international traveling because it has no foreign transaction fees, served me well. I was disappointed with my Bank of America debit card, though. Last summer, I was told that if you used the ATMs of BofA-associated banks, including Deutsche Bank, Barclay’s and BNP Paribas, you wouldn’t be charged a withdrawal fee (although there is still a foreign transaction fee). I checked BofA’s Web site and those banks are still listed as fee-free.

I used ATMs from these banks several times during the trip, but when looking at my account online, I see that I was charged $5 withdrawal fees. I’m not pleased, so I’m planning on calling soon to ask about it.

The Hubble telescopeCash Passport cards are prepaid, reloadable cards you can purchase in almost any currency. They are great for traveling.

Because the trip was celebrating my sister’s graduation from college, my parents gave my sister several Cash Passport cards in euros before we left. They are prepaid, reloadable cards that you can purchase in practically any currency, and they are branded with the Visa and MasterCard logo. This allows you to use it as a debit card just about anywhere, or use it to withdraw cash from an ATM (there are fees, though).

You can check your balance online, and you can opt to have two cards with two different numbers linked to the same account. It’s great for someone young who doesn’t have a credit card and doesn’t want to use a debit card while abroad, too. It’s also much safer than carrying cash.

But sadly, now it’s back to the real world.


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  • I work at Discover Card and wanted to provide some clarity to point #2 above. It is true that Discover Card recently changed its payment due date — it is now five days before your billing cycle ends. However, cardmembers still have a minimum of 25 days between the date their billing period ends to the time the next one is due to pay their bill.
    Cardmembers were notified of the upcoming changes through statement inserts, direct mail, or email beginning January through February. The changes were communicated again via statements in March, April and May. Cardmembers still have the option to choose their payment due date, which we know is very important to them.
    Additionally, we offer Email and Mobile Reminders that help cardmembers track spending, avoid fees and stay on top of their account. Today, cardmembers can choose from any of the following alerts: new statement available, payment posted, minimum payment not received, balance transfer posted, refund/credit posted, nearing credit limit, purchase exceeding a set amount, balance exceeding a set amount.