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Natural disasters have become so common in the past year that it’s important for you and your family to think about ways to use your credit card to your advantage amidst a natural disaster. Disasters happen every day, evidenced by last month in New York with a earthquake and a hurricane all within the same week.
Not being prepared for a natural disaster both physically and financially can be hazardous to your health. So in addition to that First Aid Kid, put aside a little cash and your credit card so you can fare the storm with some money in your pocket.
As a general rule, it is best to stay far beneath the limit on your credit card. But during a natural disaster this is more important than ever. Keeping balances low is always a good rule of thumb, but during a natural disaster access to cash and credit is essential. In case of an emergency, you may have to put a hotel or a rental car on the card. This may be a bigger issue if your card is maxed out and you have no access to an ATM.
Also, it is important for you as the consumer to let the credit card company know if you are being evacuated or if you are going to be making purchases outside your normal purchase realm. Many banks have fraud alerts on accounts that they monitor pretty consistently. If you’re spending behavior changes rapidly, the bank may think your card is stolen and cut off access to your funds. This could be detrimental, especially when access to funds is already low after a natural disaster.
Lastly, it is important to have a list of each credit card, including the credit card name, account number, any reoccurring fees— such as bill payments, direct deposit information, as well as the toll-free number and the identification number on the back of the card. Keep this close to a copy of your driver’s license or any photo ID. Also, it would be wise to include any and all bank account numbers, mortgages, and car loan information. In times of crisis, personal information like wallets and credit cards may get lost or stolen. Having backups can save you time, money and peace of mind during a storm.