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Summer vacations may be right around the corner for you and, if so, its likely that the issue of how to use your credit card is on your mind. There is a range of ways for you to have a hassle-free credit card vacation but you must remain vigilant at all times and should follow some basic rules to avoid problems.

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Now may also be an opportune time, if you’ve just returned from a vacation, to reflect on some of the credit card-related mistakes you made. CreditCard.com suggests the following:

1. Let your credit card issuer know your plans.

If you fail to update them, your unusual location may be flagged and cause them to block further charges, since the issuer may think that your credit card or account data has been stolen. Although it is easy enough to call the issuer if a shut-off occurs, there’s often a delay before you can re-access your credit.

2. Retain the receipts from your vacation spending.

That will make it easy to ensure there are no unusual charges when you get your statement, since you do not have the same rights to dispute charges made while abroad as you do back in the U.S. In case anything crops up later on a credit card statement, hang onto receipts from foreign countries for longer than you normally would.

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3. Watch out for double-billing.

It can happen: You reserve a hotel or rental car with your credit card, then decide to pay in cash. When the credit card bill comes, surprise! You got charged anyway. Keep that cash receipt. If you are charged twice but don’t have your cash receipt as proof of payment, you will be out of luck. Instead, it is generally better just to pay with the credit card number the hotel or car rental agency already has on file.

4. Be careful at restaurants.

When paying a restaurant tab with a credit card and leaving a cash tip, a dishonest waiter could fill in the space on the receipt for adding on a tip. To avoid this, you can note in the space provided that “the tip is on the table,” or a similar remark, to prevent an additions without your consent.

Although there are some issues to be aware of when paying with a credit card overseas, you are still afforded a level of ease and protection not offered when using cash, a debit card or check. With all the exercise we give our credit cards during the rest of the year, don’t they deserve the chance to travel at holiday time?

Click here to read CreditCards.com’s full list.

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