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3 credit precautions for summer vacations

How to protect yourself when traveling by land, by air or not at all.

As schools let out, workloads lighten, and weather reports brighten, summer vacations abound. But before you pack your bags or request time off, keep these key summer-vacation credit precautions in mind.

1. Road trips.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy summer time off is to drive to a vacation spot or explore the open road. That means you’ll need gas, maybe from stations you may not visit very often. When you’re at the pump, watch out for card skimmers. Thieves can attach devices to the credit card payment terminals to swipe your card information while you’re swiping your card to pay. Before you use a gas station pump, check the card reader or slot. If there’s anything loose or if something doesn’t look right, play it safe and pay inside.

2. Travel abroad.

Planning a trip to foreign lands or seas? If you’re planning on using credit cards at your destination, make sure to let each card company know when and where you’ll be traveling. That’ll help you avoid a situation where your credit card company thinks a transaction made in the country you’re visiting is the result of theft or fraud, rather than a legitimate purchase made by you. If that happens, your charges may start getting declined until you’re able to verify they’re yours — spending time and money online or on the phone with a credit card company hardly sounds like the best use of valuable vacation time!

If you’re in doubt about how to contact each credit card company, call the number on the back of your card. That’s generally the safest approach.

3. Staycation.

Sometimes the best summer vacations are those requiring very little travel or no travel at all! Whether your relaxing at home or seeing hometown sites you may have overlooked, carve out a few minutes to check your free annual credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. Review each report for any suspicious or unfamiliar information. With all the free travel time you’ll be saving, this is a relatively quick, but powerful step you can sneak into your vacation routine to gain some credit peace of mind.

However you choose to spend your summer free time, taking any of these 3 credit precautions takes just a little bit of time. But the extra effort may go a long way toward a more enjoyable, less stressful summer vacation.