Always Keep Your Receipts When Travelling

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As a freelancer, I always keep my receipts since I can claim many things for taxes. But there’s an argument to be made that everyone should keep their receipts. Receipts are provided to prove you’ve paid something. If you have a dispute about something, those receipts could mean the difference when making your case.

When it comes to travel, these receipts are especially important since it won’t be easy for you to contact merchants later if you have a dispute. It’s not just receipts from purchases you need to keep, you also need to hang onto on your boarding passes. Confused? Let me explain.

Keeping boarding passes

Many people choose certain airlines or routes because it allows them to collect loyalty points. Sounds pretty straightforward, but what happens if you didn’t receive credit for your journey? Logically, you would just call the airline and get the points applied to your account, but it’s not that simple. To get your points, you need to have completed that journey. Even though you clearly checked in, some airlines may still investigate your claim before awarding you your points. By hanging onto your boarding pass, you can provide proof that you were actually on that plane. There’s no way an airline can deny you your points after you show them your boarding pass. Yes, people have been denied their points because they didn’t hang onto their boarding pass.

Keeping your boarding pass is also important if you need to make an insurance claim later. Let’s say your plane is delayed and you’ll be grounded overnight. You call your travel insurance provider and they confirm that they’ll pay for a hotel as well as the costs of any small items you need to pick up. Even though you’ve been approved for these expenses, you still need to pay for everything out of pocket first. Once you return from your trip you’ll need to provide all the receipts, including your boarding pass to file a claim. The boarding pass is key since it is proof you were on a plane that was delayed. Without these documents, you may not be reimbursed.

Keep all your receipts while travelling

I might be a little paranoid, but I tend to be extra cautious with my expenses when I’m abroad. I keep every receipt when I pay by credit and I compare them to my statements when I get home. Why do I do this? Because when I use my credit card abroad, I’m charged in the local currency and I want to make sure that what’s been posted to my statement is indeed the correct amount. I’ve had two incidents where the tip I left was changed later to a higher amount. In both situations, I had paper receipts to prove that what I was charged was not the price I agreed to pay.

In a more recent situation, I stayed at a resort down in the U.S. where I paid my resort fees in cash when I checked out. They asked me if I wanted a receipt, but I declined since I thought it would be good for the environment – seriously. This was a huge mistake as when I returned home later, I noticed that the hotel had charged those fees to my credit card. When I called the hotel to get the charges reversed, they refused to do so because I had no proof of payment. Fortunately, VISA took my side and reimbursed me the charges. If I had a receipt, I wouldn’t have had to go through all the extra trouble.

Final thoughts

When disputing international charges without a receipt, you need to build a case. That requires time and possibly long-distance charges while you investigate. The combination of time and money spent is usually not worth your trouble. However, if you just keep your receipts, you’ll win your case without any problems.

Always Keep Your Receipts When Travelling

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Vito on November 16, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    Hey Barry, great article. One question. I’m curious, even if you had the receipt wouldn’t you have “had” to contact the resort anyway, thereby spending the long distance charges? Or would you have simply gone directly to VISA and avoid the long distance charges altogether? Also, when you say you contacted VISA, is it best to contact VISA directly or the card company associated with your VISA (ie. RBC VISA, TD VISA, Tangerine MC, etc)?


    • Barry Choi on November 16, 2017 at 1:58 PM

      Hi Vito,

      You hit a very solid point. I have long distance calls included in my plan, but I also spent about 10 hours chasing everyone down. 10 hours to save $50 is not a good use of my time but I did it out of principle.

      When I say I contacted VISA, I mean my credit card provider. I still had to go through the merchant first as I had to build a case of why I deserved a refund.

      • Vito on November 16, 2017 at 3:11 PM

        I wonder if it would be possible to resolve it via email instead? I foresee delays doing so however, but I’m not sure how “more” expedient it would be by calling instead. In any case, I’m with you on the principle and glad it worked out for you.

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