Pre-Trip Questions to Ask Your Bank

By Rick Steves

Before your trip, call your credit-card company and your bank (for debit cards) to let them know you'll be using the cards in Europe. This will ensure that they don't decline foreign transactions. While you have them on the phone, ask these questions. If the person doesn't know the answers, ask to speak to someone who does.

The Basics:
  • Will my card work in Europe? (Specify which countries you're traveling to.)
  • What do you charge for withdrawals or purchases in Europe? Is it a percentage, flat fee, or both?
  • Are other currency conversion or foreign transaction fees tacked on?
  • What will the total charge be on my card — including all fees — if I take out €100 at an ATM with my debit card? Or if I pay for a €100 purchase with my credit card?
  • If my credit/debit card is lost or stolen, what is my liability?
  • What phone number should I call is there's an emergency?
Specific to Debit Cards:
  • What is my daily limit for ATM withdrawals in Europe? (If you want to change the limit, ask if you can.)
  • Do you have any partner banks in Europe where I can use my debit card at an ATM without paying an extra fee?
Specific to Credit Cards:
  • Can you mail my credit card's PIN to me? (If you don't know it; you might need it for some purchases in Europe.)