1. Safekeep your credit card(s) in the hotel room
Keep it in the hotel room safe until you need it for emergencies. There are two good reasons for this. The first is that, when we become tourists, an unexplained chemical is triggered in our brain that makes us buy… everything. There’s a reason only tourists buy stupid souvenir hats and T-Shirts that, in our normal state of mind, we can’t ever fathom anyone buying without the intention of shaming their families.
The other reason is that, when you get robbed, said robbers will make off with your credit card and start charging things to it. They will have a long time with which to do it because you will be injured, probably lacking transport, and begging for help in a country where no one speaks English.
2. Never take your eyes off it when paying for stuff
Giving the card to a waitress? You’re supposed to keep it in the hotel room safe (see point 1) but never mind. You’ve already gone and done it. We all create the crimes we deserve.
For now, follow her to the counter and see where she swipes it. Just got the card back and it’s wrapped in a receipt? Unwrap it and make sure it’s the same card with your name on it. If she doesn’t get nervous because you seem to be eyeballing her all the time, you are not taking proper care of your credit card.
Identity theft often results from skimming your card, or swapping your card (with an expired replacement) and hoping you don’t notice. If you let this happen, there’s also a chance your bank can claim it was due to your own negligence. Actually, they will probably try to claim that no matter what, because the credit card business is as far from being a charity as cancer is to being a cheerful realisation.
So keep an eye on the card at all times, if you choose to break the first rule.
3. Find out the exchange rate first
There are often two charges when you purchase things in a foreign currency using your credit card. The first is charged by the card company (Visa, Master Card, American Express), and the second may be charged by your bank.
Be conscious of these charges, because it may be much cheaper to just exchange more money beforehand than to ever rely on the card.