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Ask Peter: Money-Saving Summer Travel Ideas

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Don’t worry if you’ve waited until the last minute to put together your summer travel plans, just Ask Peter. The early bird isn’t the only person to get the travel deal. From creative flights to Europe to different cruise routes through Alaska, Peter proves it’s not too late for a summer surprise.

You can talk to him at 1-888-88-PETER (1-888-887-3837), email him at peter@petergreenberg.com, tweet questions to @petersgreenberg (use #askPeter), or post questions on his Facebook page.

Mary tweeted: How does one customarily pay for goods and services overseas? Visa Debit, Visa Credit, AMEX Debit, Mastercard Debit. What about traveler’s checks?

Mary, a traveler’s check is an unsecured loan you are giving to American Express. You’re loaning them money. Why do you think they hand you that little, handy wallet for all your traveler’s checks? So that when you come back, you put it in your bureau drawer and never spend it. That’s money that they have to use. If you’re that worried about carrying cash overseas, then get about $300 in traveler’s checks, but that’s it. And when you get home, cash them. Now, you asked about credit cards.

The real key here isn’t which credit card to use, it’s which credit card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. Those fees could be anywhere from 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the total cost of your purchases, and believe me, that adds up. Credit cards like Capital One don’t have a foreign transaction fee.

You asked, “Should I use a debit card?” Only use your debit card for one reason–to exchange foreign currency. Don’t use it at a money-changing place, where you’ll get a very a very high commission and exchange rate. A number of debit cards, like Charles Schwab, don’t charge you to use a foreign ATM machine where you’re getting the day-of exchange rate offered by that bank for their best customers. Only take out what you need at any one time, so you’re not carrying around wads of cash that could easily be stolen and won’t have to exchanging money when you are leaving.

For more ideas, watch Jordan Whitley’s Travel Tip on Currency Exchange.

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