You have your credit card in hand, ready to make a purchase. Suddenly, the words “no thanks, I’ll put it on my travel card” pop up on the screen. What happened? You likely pulled a boner and charged something that wasn’t supposed to be on your travel card. This type of mistake is quite common, even for experienced shoppers. It’s a major roadblock to seamless travel planning, and it creates many unnecessary headaches. Let’s examine the anatomy of a travel charge and how to avoid it.
The Anatomy Of A Travel Charge
Most travel charges occur when you are doing something that wasn’t explained to you beforehand – when you didn’t read the fine print, or when you were under the assumption that something was included in your travel package. While it’s important to be mindful of your spending during your travel experience, it’s also important to be mindful of what you are actually paying for. When you add a travel charge onto a purchase that was made with another card in the same transaction, the charge gets ‘automatically’ applied. For example, if you purchased a plane ticket with a credit card and then decided to add an additional night at a hotel, the latter would be considered a travel charge.
This can be tricky to diagnose, as a lot of the time the offending party is not present to question. The best thing to do when faced with this type of situation is contact the company that issued your credit card. They will be the best source of information regarding your purchase. However, in the meantime, you can contact the airline’s customer service to see if they have an outstanding deposit for the ticket you are interested in purchasing. The same goes for the hotel. You can also call the credit card company and ask them to put on hold your additional charges until you resolve the travel issue. In some cases, your bank may put a hold on your card until the company that issued it can verify that the purchase you are making is indeed legitimate. This can create some serious headaches, especially if you are trying to leave the country.
Why Do Travel Charges Occur?
It’s important to understand the root of the problem before you can fix it. The main reason behind travel charges is that some companies and establishments don’t understand the concept of ‘billing addresses.’ When you make a purchase with a credit card, the merchant assumes that the billing address is the one listed on the card. This is, unfortunately, not always the case. What happens is that the person making the purchase will most likely use a different address than the one listed on the credit card. In some instances, the address might even be a business address, in which case the person who really needs to receive the goodies is the one who’s listed as the ‘shipper,’ and not the person who ordered the product. If this happens a lot – especially if you’re running multiple stores, each with their own credit card – you might want to consider having a separate billing address for each of your shops. It’s not the end of the world, but it can significantly streamline your travel planning, as you’ll only have to deal with one address instead of four. If this sounds like a hassle, than it’s probably time to find a new travel agency.
One last thing regarding this topic: a lot of the time, companies will assess a travel charge even if the purchase was made with a prepaid card. This is, in my mind, totally unnecessary. It creates a lot of extra hassle for both the person making the purchase and the person trying to cover it. In many cases, the person trying to cover it doesn’t need to – the company will simply tack on an extra amount to their own bill. It doesn’t have to be this way, as there are alternatives such as cash or check payments that don’t require you to put your credit card on the line. It’s not always the best idea to use a credit card when making an online purchase, especially if you’re traveling.
If you’re looking to travel this year, make sure that you’re doing so for the right reasons. There are plenty of companies that specialize in helping you plan out luxury travel experiences, and they can help you avoid all the common pitfalls that come with traveling. If online shopping is something that you’re looking to get into, than consider looking for a no-fee credit card that offers rewards. You can also call the company that issued your credit card and ask them to put a hold on your additional charges until you resolve the travel issue. It’s not always the best idea to use a credit card when making an online purchase, especially if you’re traveling.