Traveling? Stop the Bank From Shutting Down Your Credit Cards

BY Beth Williams


Don’t become a member of the lost or stolen credit card while traveling abroad club! I’ve heard many horror stories involving people traveling with their credit cards. But with all the stories that I’ve heard, many of them might have been avoided if the travelers would have done these simple things.

Number 1:
Anytime you travel you should make photo copies of all of your credit cards airline tickets and documents, both front and back. You should leave these photocopies with a friend or relative not traveling with you, and had a copy of these stored in your phone or via an email with an attachment you can retrieve. That way if you ever lose a credit card you can get it canceled right away. The majority of problems with the cancellation of credit cards occur when you travel internationally.  If you forget who the credit card is with you may waste hours calling the United States trying to find out which bank or institution the credit card was with. That’s where the photocopies come in handy.

Number 2:
If you travel with someone, especially a husband or wife, I would make sure you travel with individual credit cards in separate names. The reason for this is simple. Many families have one credit card account number but have individual cards with the same card numbers issued to each person. The problem with this is if one person were lose their credit card, the others person’s credit card would be canceled also, and you would have to wait for a new card to be sent to you in  and three to five days. By each traveler having his or her own separate credit card, if one was lost, you could survive on the other credit card for a few days until the other is replaced.

Number 3:
Automatic credit card deactivation can spoil a vacation. Some banks and credit unions cut off credit cards that are used 6 or more times in one day, to try and stop thieves from using stolen cards. If this happens to you overseas, you may find it difficult or impossible to have your card reactivated. Before going on an overseas trip on which you will use your credit cards daily, notify your credit card companies ahead of time that you will be away overseas. This will let then know that your card has not been compromised.

Number 4:
You always read tips about making photocopies of your credit cards when traveling and placing these copies in the bottom of your luggage. This tips is given by individuals in the proper spirit, however this can actually put you at greater risk of experiencing credit card fraud. Anyone who winds up with your luggage will have access to your credit card numbers and expiration dates. Anyone rifling your suitcases can take the copies or make copies of your copies for their use, ordering merchandise via the telephone.

Number 5:
When traveling abroad and using a credit card, watch out for the conversion fee that many banks charge to convert charges in foreign currencies to dollars. As with traveler’s check- some banks do and some banks don’t charge a fee, generally 1% of the purchase amount. So if you have several cards, it’s worth checking with the issuers to see which one offers the best deal on foreign currency conversion. Then weigh this against other factors. Note: The conversion fee is not included in the legally required disclosure box that appears in credit-card promotional material.  Even with the conversion charge, many times ATM machines will have the best  possible exchange rates and the lowest fees.

Have your PIN number converted to four digits before departing on a trip, as most foreign ATMs will not respond to five or six-digit PINS.

Many foreign ATMs only accept four-digit PIN numbers. If your PIN is longer, check with your financial institution about changing it before you leave the country. Sometimes it’s as simple as going to your own bank’s ATM and changing it yourself.

Apart from ATMs, the best locations for exchanging U.S. into foreign currency are banks, the biggest ones you can find. They offer fairly decent rates and low fees, and do much better for you than the commercial money-changing kiosks and storefront establishments. Never use the latter.