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I will be traveling to Europe and have a US based credit card in USD. When I pay I am aware of the following:

  • Exchange Rate (Look up Visa/MC Website for their exchange rate)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee (In my case there is none)
  • If the POS Terminal asks if I want to pay in € or $ I choose € to get the exchange rate from Visa/MC.
  • Cash is always a good idea but this part is covered.

Is there anything else I have to look out for when I pay with my US based credit card abroad?

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You may not be able to use the card in some situations (especially automated situations such as ticket machines and gas pumps) if you don't have chip+PIN.

Some people like to notify their credit card companies of which countries they are visiting. I don't usually, but they're used to my activities. Sometimes you can do that online, so if a flag comes up that you've made a charge in some exotic locale, they can look it up without bothering you.

Cash usually ends up costing a fair bit more, in my experience.

  • Know the customs of that country. Credit cards are not as universally accepted in some as in others. (China is almost entirely on a cash basis, for example; the best solution I found was to draw cash from an ATM as needed, then spend the excess when checking out of the hotel and in the airport gift shops on the way out.) – keshlam Feb 10 '17 at 23:34
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In some countries, as with some small businesses, you may have to pay surcharge or extra to be able to use your credit card. Depending on the current exchange rate your withdrawn cash maybe costlier than swiping the card with the surcharge.

When you use some cards (if not all), you end up getting a higher than the current prevailing exchange rate. I have verified this with India and Colombia (in the recent past). So using the card where possible seems advantageous in that regard. Add to this, you may have certain purchase protections that are extended to you through the cardmember agreements. It may come in handy to be somewhat familiar with these.

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