When travelling for business or pleasure, it is important to consider the risks of your choice of method of payment which you will be using.  Many business travelers like to use business credit cards for ease of tracking expenses, but, for personal use, it might also be easier to use cards also these days instead of bulking up your wallet with a wad of cash and ending up with a pocket full of coins.

It may be important to consider more detailed factors:

1. What type of establishments will you be spending your money in?

The types of places where you will be spending money and making payments is important to consider.  If you are staying in a first world country at a large hotel chain like a Double Tree Hotel, it still holds some risk for data breach, but not as much as staying in a remote location in an exotic country.  The risk may not always be at the actual point of sale.  Your data could be sold on the black market and then used by another party that will execute the fraudulent activity.  So, even though the old lady running the small motel doesn’t seem like she would use your credit card information, her cunning nephew who takes care of the accounting might be willing to risk selling your data to someone else who would.

2. Are you confident that your bank will catch fraudulent transactions?

You should notify your bank when you travel if you don’t want to deal with blocked payments while on the road, but maybe you could also test them out one time and see if they call you when you try to use your card in an different state.  If you’ve already experienced this once before, you can feel confident that your bank will catch any fraudulent use of your information, but, if you bank with a smaller organization like a local bank or credit union, they may not have a robust system to catch a transaction from another country that you visited a few weeks ago.  If you aren’t confident in your bank, make sure to call them upon your return from your travels so that they are aware that there should not be any new transactions from your last vacation spot.

3. Are you traveling internationally?

If you are traveling internationally, it would be wise to isolate your transactions to one credit card which you can keep track of as opposed to using multiple cards that can be difficult to manage.  Even ATM machines in less developed countries can be back-doored and tapped for your data while making a transaction.  You can’t be too careful.  Try to choose larger financial establishments when withdrawing cash and try to use cash for smaller transactions and small establishments.

4. Is it necessary for you to carry cash?

If you are buying a drink at a bar in between cities while you travel, you may want to use cash to protect your data.  Cash leaves no risk to your data.  It might be less convenient to have the change rattling around in your pocket, but you can always use the change for your next snack.  When shopping in a busy street market, it might be necessary to carry cash.  It would also be smart to use cash although a lot of shopping malls in Asia do accept e-payments through QR code apps like WeChat Pay or Alipay.  Make sure to read up on the potential risks of these type of payment applications and keep a close eye on your accounts.  QR code scams are on the rise.  Keep checking Identity Theft Recovery Center for the latest tricks and schemes to watch out for.