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A Must-Do Before Leaving Home

Between arranging a ride to the airport, dropping Fluffy off at the kennel and sitting on your suitcase to squeeze in all your clothes, the last few days before a trip can be chaotic and stressful. But there’s one thing you should always make sure to do before you get on the plane, as suggested by columnist Traveler’s Ed:

“Call your bank or credit card company and let them know about your travel plans. Most banks and credit card companies keep track of spending patterns and may interpret an unexpected overseas purchase as credit card fraud. Your bank or credit card company could lock your account if you use your card in another country without notifying them.”

I’d also recommend calling before a domestic trip, as any purchases outside of your usual spending radius could raise suspicion. If you are traveling internationally, use your time on the phone to ask which number you should call from overseas if your credit card is lost or stolen. (The toll-free number on the back of your card is often only for use within your own home country.) Jot down the information and keep it in a place separate from your card.

In addition to making sure you won’t get stranded in a foreign country with frozen funds, there’s another potential benefit to notifying your bank when you plan to travel, as I discovered a few years ago. After my companion and I reported that we’d be out of the country, our bank put an alert on one of our cards because it was being used for purchases back in our home state while we were gone. Because the bank knew where we were supposed to be, it was immediately able to flag the local purchases as fraudulent — and we weren’t held responsible for any of the bogus charges after we got home.

To see what else should be on your essential pre-trip checklist, check out 10Things to Do Before You Travel.

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