bank cards

I used my credit cards a lot and I have no idea how I’ll ever be able to afford paying the interest. This trip was the worst financial mistake of my LIFE!!


  • See above for how to choose a good credit card. Once you’ve got yourself a good credit card, use it wisely.
  • If you get no rewards use it not at all,  unless you have to in order to make an online purchase, or it otherwise saves you fees, such as renting a car with your credit card car insurance, or purchasing items that might benefit from being covered under your credit card insurance.
  • If you get rewards, use it in a way that maximizes your rewards (check all the fine print)
  • In both cases, only use your card if you have money in your checking account to pay for the purchase, and do so immediately (unless it’s better for your rewards to pay your bill at the end of the month, in which case schedule your payment immediately) Getting rewards is useless if you’re paying for them in interest.
  • DO NOT, especially while traveling, and especially if you’re not sure that you’re coming back to a set job, use your credit card for “extras” you don’t have the money for but really want to do anyway. You will regret it. Interest racks up fast, exponentially faster than earning money to pay it back.


  • The best defence in this case is a good offence. If you see yourself slipping, stop and cut your budget so as to pay back your credit card. Lay low for a while, do free activities and eat street food. Get a job, volunteer somewhere in exchange for free services… be creative, but pay back your card before you start spending again.
  • Check yo self before you wreck yo self.
  • If it’s too late and you’re way in the red, contact a trustworthy financial advisor who can get you back on the right track. Those late night consolidation infomercials are a scam. Don’t let money troubles ruin your view of your trip, remember the good times and keep your head high, you’ll get through it and when you’re old you’ll laugh about it.
  1. Lost Bank Card
  2. Out Of Budget
  3. Robbed and Broke
  4. Post Trip Credit Card Debt
  5. Machine Ate My Card


  1. Oh boy.. I can’t understand people who travel on credit. I know at least a couple of backpackers who first spend on travel and then go to work for several months to pay the bill. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it the other way around? I’d enjoy my travels way more knowing I’m using my hard earn money, without having to worry about what comes up next!..
    Good tips! :)
    Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted…Top 13 Travel Experiences of 2013My Profile

    1. Right there with you Zara! But to each their own. It’s hard for some people to save up sometimes, and I can understand how the motivation of paying off debt could get one to buckle down more effectively than the more abstract goal of saving.

  2. Learned this lesson while traveling with a student group. The bank ATM ate a student’s Visa card. It was Sunday and we were just visiting for the day.
    Lesson 1: If possible, only use the bank ATM while the bank is open.
    Lesson 2: If you can locate a commercial bank you can draw money off your Visa card without using the machine.
    Lesson 3: On short trips I overpay my Visa before leaving and use that card as a Debit card while away.

      1. Hello Jade,
        Thanks for the comment.
        We were in Siena on a Sunday but it was close to the end of the trip so I just loaned money to the student. Upsetting, but not a disaster. Nonetheless it was a lesson regarding weekend travel that was never forgotten.
        I’m a high school teacher in Nova Scotia. Our European trip is intended to introduce students to the roots of our culture (London, Paris, Florence and Rome) and to simply give them the confidence to travel independently. Many do.
        On Twitter @papapigeon (Our tours are called Pigeon Tours)

    1. Traveler’s cheques, does anyone even use those anymore?!!?

      Having credits cards is great, if you know how to use them well, they definitely can work to your advantage, with points and everything. Unfortunately most people slack in the department and end up paying more in interest than they get back in points.

      I’ve been knows to be guilty of this!

      I’m glad you’re on your game!
      JadeAdele recently posted…Planning a Road Trip in the US, your ULTIMATE resource guideMy Profile

  3. This post was very useful! I spend last October in Argentina and in my last week I was in Ushuaia. I didn´t have much money with me but I had my credit card, so I wasn´t that worried… however, once I checked-in in the hostel I was staying they only accepted ‘fresh money’. As a result, I got only 150 pesos (+- 10 euros) for 3 days, so I went to get money from the ATM. It was really hard because apparently in Ushuaia sometimes ATM don´t have money and my card was not accepted in many machines… only on the second day and after 12 AMTs I made it!!!! Now I know that next time I should take two different credit cards… :)
    PedroL recently posted…window #608My Profile

  4. Thank you for the very informative article Jade!
    If I may suggest one rather important point to highlight to your readers would be the following. Be careful of what some travellers may at first hand consider to be “relatively” safe storage options. For example, luggage with regular zippers are not at all safe! These can be easily opened with something as simple as a ballpoint pen and resealed without ones knowledge
    If available I would suggest enquiring with your hotel about the availability of safes in rooms and even safes located at the reception desk. Even if such safes are available, remember that to avoid problems with guests loosing their access code or safe keys, the hotel security or management will typically have spare keys securely locked away. Just to be extra safe ensure that you keep a small, light-weight, tamperproof, lockable container or bag that can be placed inside such a hotel safe. It doesn’t have to be heavy-duty, it only has to serve as a deterrent. ;-)
    I trust the above adds value to you and your readers :-)

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