Tag Archives: Protect your valuable

10 ways to protect your credit card on vacation

By Sheryl Smolkin


Whether you plan to spend spring break on a beach or on the ski slopes, the only thing worse than losing your luggage is discovering your credit card has been lost or stolen. And discovering unauthorized charges on your credit card statement when you get home ranks a close second.

Here are 10 ways to protect your account information and resolve unauthorized card use whether you “staycation” close to home or travel abroad.

  1. Don’t send card information by email or text: If you are booking travel or changing travel arrangements when you are away, remember most email and texts are not secure. All it takes for someone else to charge to your account is your card number, expiry date and security code. Even your name and address can be enough information for identity theft.
  2. Don’t lend your credit card: Do not give even family members your credit card number or the card to use on your behalf. If you are prepared to authorize a family member to use your account on a regular basis, get a separate card with the appropriate credit limit.
  3. Don’t share your PIN: Protect your PIN at all times and don’t write it down on a slip you keep in your wallet. If you can’t remember your PIN, go into your bank and choose a new one before you leave. Don’t use obvious numbers like your birthday or your telephone number.
  4. Call before you leave: Financial institutions issuing credit cards have software that recognizes unusual patterns of behaviour. For that reason, on several occasions my card has been refused when I was travelling outside Canada. Now I always call to tell my credit card company where I am going and how long I will be in each city.
  5. Check your credit limits: Make sure you know when your card expires and the withdrawal/credit limits on your debit/credit cards. I typically pay off my cards completely before leaving on a major trip, particularly if a payment is due in my absence.
  6. Put the card company on speed dial: Make a note of your credit and debit card numbers, as well as issuer phone numbers, and keep them in a safe place in case your card is lost or stolen. Because I had CIBC VISA’s toll free number on speed dial when my card disappeared in a Peking market several years ago, I was able to immediately report the loss and cancel the card.
  7. Carry only what you need: When travelling outside the country, I leave my rewards cards, hospital cards and other miscellaneous wallet contents at home. However, my husband and I usually bring several different credit cards and bank cards as back-up and keep all but one in the hotel room safe. A friend who recently visited Russia had his debit card “eaten” by an ATM. Fortunately his wife had her own debit card and was still able to withdraw the cash they needed for the balance of their trip.
  8. Keep receipts: Review credit card receipts before you sign, and monitor both credit card and bank account statements carefully on your return. On a trip to St. Martin, I tried to withdraw money from a generic ATM machine to pay cash for a pair of earrings. The machine refused my card but spit out a receipt. When I got home I realized my account had been debited, but I never received the funds. It took months for CIBC to trace the transaction, but I did eventually get my money back.
  9. Currency conversion: When using an unfamiliar currency, what looks like a deal, may turn out to be very expensive. Smart phone apps are available that will allow you to do on the spot calculations. VISA also has a currency calculator that can give you an indication of the rate you will pay when using your credit card. But remember, this converter uses a single rate per day with respect to any two currencies and rates apply to the date VISA processes the transaction, which may differ from the actual date of the purchase.
  10. Beware of contactless credit cards: Many newly-issued credit cards and other important documents pose major fraud and privacy concerns because they are designed to be scanned through the air. “Contactless” credit cards have an embedded computer chip called a radio frequency identification, or RFID tag. When waved near a payment terminal in a store or by an unscrupulous individual using a manual unit, the chip supplies the card’s number and expiry date through radio waves, avoiding the need to swipe or insert the card. RFID blocking wallets or passport holders can be ordered online.

And finally, never let the card out of your sight when you make a purchase. In the few minutes that a clerk or gas station attendant has your card it can be swiped through a skimming device. This is less of a problem as more merchants are using portable wireless terminals, but this technology is not universally available in some parts of the world. 

Can you suggest other ways to protect your credit cards on vacation?  Send us an email to socialmedia@saskpension.com. If your idea is posted, your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you take steps to improve credit card security in 2013.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

7-Feb Valentine’s Day Budget-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas
14-Feb Retirement savings Pros & cons of available savings vehicles
21-Feb RRSP/SPP deadline How should you invest your retirement savings?

Also see:
Five things you should never do with your credit card
Readers respond to credit card security tips.

Protect your valuable bling with insurance

By Sheryl Smolkin


So your guy finally popped the question at Christmas and now you are sporting a shiny new bauble on your left hand. I hope after you called your parents, your next call was to your insurance company.

Whether Santa brought you a sparkling engagement ring, a stunning piece of art, a new set of golf clubs or a fast new bike, it is important to to make sure the items are properly insured.

When my husband and I got engaged he was still a student. The ring he gave me cost $300 and I almost got run over crossing Bloor St. in Toronto because I was so busy admiring it. In spite of its sentimental value I never worried about insurance for that ring, but 25 years later he bought me a much more costly replacement for our anniversary.

We are insured with TD Insurance through Security National. TD’s entry level gold policy limits recovery for theft or loss of jewellery to $4,000. Although we have the platinum policy which covers jewellery up to a value of $12,000, by the time I added up the bits and pieces I’ve acquired over the years including my newest acquisition, I realized our coverage wasn’t nearly enough.

So I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an additional floater (also called an endorsement) to cover my ring at the annual cost of $18.78/$1,000 of coverage. And I’m very glad that I did.

Several years later we were in Stratford for the weekend and went to a local gym on Sunday morning. I looked down at my right hand as we left the parking lot and was horrified to see the pear shape solitaire was missing from my ring. Even after searching in all the obvious places including a bin of wet, dirty towels, it was nowhere to be found.

I reported the loss to my insurance company and within a few weeks they calculated the replacement value of a stone of similar size and quality and paid that amount to my jeweller, inclusive of taxes. If I hadn’t intended to replace the stone, I could have received a personal cheque minus the taxes.

Prices for floaters and endorsements vary depending on the item, the insurance company you choose, where you live and where the item will be kept. There are no deductibles and frequently you get the option of having the insurance company replace the item for you.

To make sure your recently acquired valuables are adequately protected, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I) makes the following five suggestions:

  1. Contact your insurance company immediately: Let the company representative know that you now own a new piece of jewelry or other expensive item. Find out how much coverage you have under your current policy and whether additional insurance is needed.
  2. Keep a copy of the store receipt: Forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer so that the company knows the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for yourself and include it with your home inventory.
  3. Have jewelry appraised: New jewelry should come with an appraisal. Heirlooms and antique jewelry will have to be appraised for their dollar value. It is important that expensive items be appraised properly because if you purchase a floater, you will pay a premium based on the appraised value and, in the event of a claim, be compensated for this dollar amount.
  4. Take a photo or video of the item: With a camera in every smartphone, keeping a visual record of all of your personal possessions is easier than ever. If you use a video camera, you can also provide a verbal description of the item or collection. This helps to document your loss and speed up the claims process. It is also useful for documenting antique and unusual items.
  5. Add the item to your home inventory: A home inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and speed up the claims process when there is a loss. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, you can use the I.I.I.’s free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory. You can also download the free app for iPhones and Androids.
  6. Store valuables in a secure location: Protect your jewellery by storing it in a secure location in your home. If you don’t wear the item regularly or are saving it for a family member, consider keeping it in a safe deposit box. You may save money on the cost of insuring it, as some companies offer “in vault” coverage.

Do you have any other ideas how to protect your valuables?  Send us an email to socialmedia@saskpension.com. If your idea is posted, your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you take steps to ensure your valuables are properly documented and stored in accordance with the suggestions above.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

31-Jan Winter vacation How to protect your credit cards on vacation
7-Feb Valentine’s Day Budget-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas
14-Feb Retirement savings Pros & cons of available savings vehicles