What is included in a cruise vacation
The right credit card for your cruise vacation
A credit card is important for a cruise: especially when traveling with international shipping companies, but also for shopping and cash abroad and - at least supposedly - because of the insurance that is often included. A look at the details, however, shows that not every gold card shines and that you should look very carefully when choosing a credit card.
Even if Germans have a mixed relationship with credit cards and, unlike in most countries of the world, relatively few people in this country have such a card: Credit cards are the clearly preferred means of payment on cruises. However, German Maestro or V-Pay cards will also be accepted, especially with AIDA, MSC and TUI Cruises. More on that later.
Which credit card is best for a cruise?
First of all, this is fundamentally important acceptance. You are on the safe side here with Visa or Mastercard. If you have an American Express or Diners card, you should inquire with the shipping company beforehand whether it will be accepted on board.
But then, above all, those are essential fees: Annual fee, percentage fees for foreign use and currency conversion as well as fees for cash withdrawals abroad. The differences are partly clear here - more on this below.
You shouldn't be confused by supposedly attractive ones Insurance packageswhich are often included with credit cards. Most of these insurances do not cover all risks, have insurance gaps and therefore often lull you into a false sense of security.
A current comparison of the insurance comparison portal Covomo (PDF download), which - unlike the otherwise often very superficial comparisons - is very substantial and detailed is very informative on all these aspects, but above all on the question of insurance.
Credit card fees
When it comes to fees, you should be selective: there are cards with no annual fee that you can use Withdraw cash free of charge from ATMs around the world can. This is particularly useful in countries for which you would otherwise have to buy local currency before traveling against high exchange fees. A credit card with which we personally get along well is the Visa card from the DKB. But there are other providers such as the Mastercard from Norisbank or the Visa cards from Comdirect or Consors, to name just a few.
Please note: when you withdraw money from an ATM, one often drops Machine operator fee on - this is independent of the credit card company. So make sure you use an ATM that doesn't charge its own fees.
The “Santander 1-Plus Card”, the Mastercard from the online bank “Number26” and the Mastercard from Avanzia also promise that no foreign assignment fees when paying abroad attack. With most credit cards, fees of typically 1.75 or 2.0 percent up to a cheeky 4.0 percent of the invoice amount are due.
But be careful with the small print. The Avanzia sounds great, for example, until you realize where the catch is: Everything is free of charge. However, Avanzia does not automatically book amounts due from your bank account. Instead, the bank sends an invoice by email and, if payment is not made on time, charges interest from the day of the credit card transaction.
Incidentally, there is a risk of charges, regardless of the credit card company, when paying with a credit card abroad and on a cruise ship: More and more often you get than supposed service offered to have the invoice, which is actually issued in the foreign currency, debited directly from the credit card in euros. What is often kept secret or only mentioned inconspicuously: Either conversion fees are incurred or the conversion rate is significantly worse than that which the credit card company would apply for the conversion.
Basic recommendation therefore: Invoices always in the invoice currency Pay - especially if you have a credit card that does not incur any foreign fees from the card company.
Credit cards with insurance package
It gets really complicated with credit cards that contain various insurance benefits - from luggage and travel cancellation insurance to international health insurance. It gets complicated here because the insurance contracts rarely have the scope of benefits as a separately concluded insurance with the same purpose or the benefits are only provided if, for example, the trip in question was also paid for with the credit card.
The already mentioned comparison by Covomo (PDF download) comes to the conclusion: "If you want to be on the safe side, you should take out insurance in the individual contract, especially with regard to the three main types of insurance for a trip abroad - international travel health, travel cancellation and travel interruption insurance - in order to really have the security suggested by the cards. "
The test winners for credit cards with insurance protection are the ADAC silver credit card (Visa and Mastercard) for basic insurance protection and the Wüstenrot Visa card and the “Platinum Double” of the Barclaycard are in the lead for premium protection.
Our recommendation: If you are thinking about a credit card with insurance protection, you should read the insurance conditions very carefully and compare them with similar, separately concluded insurances in terms of performance and prices. When it comes to international health insurance, you should take a close look at cruises because the insurance coverage here is always necessary because of the flag under which the ships sail, even if it is a European cruise.
In detail we have in our series "Well insured on a cruise“Deals with the insurance issue in detail and also gives tips on what you should look out for in the contracts, especially for cruises.
Maestro card, cash payment
The credit card is usually the most convenient way to pay your on-board bill on a cruise - the charge is already automatic and you don't have to queue at reception on the last day of travel.
AIDA, MSC and TUI Cruises also accept German Maestro or V-Pay cards. (Fee will not be charged due to a new EU regulation from January 2018)
Most shipping companies also accept cash at the end of the voyage. However, this is often cumbersome and prepayment is required at the start of the trip. The on-board account must be covered with these advance payments during the trip - which is rather impractical.
Tip for cash payers: If you have your credit card scanned in at the beginning of the trip to cover the on-board account, you can still pay in cash at the end of the trip, but the credit card saves you from having to deposit an advance payment and, with international shipping companies, the discussions about cash payment at check-in.
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