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Debit Card block from your bank

Although I agree that a Debit/ATM card is the cheapest way to go to obtain local cash in Europe, some banks,at least mine, are blocking cards used overseas. On a recent trip to the UK, my bank blocked my attempt to use an ATM. Only after a phone call, they agreed to unblock it for 24 hours only. A subsequent conversation with my bank manager in the States revealed that they were routinely blocking transactions from the UK, citing it was a high security risk. It seems that the liability, at least for my non-international bank, was too high and they didn't care about the problems they were causing the customer.

Lesson learned: make sure you have a back up credit card and understand how to get a cash advance if necessary. It's a little pricey, typically $10-15 per $200 advanced, but better than not having any access.

Posted by
285 posts

Did you advise your bank before departure that you would be using your debit card overseas?

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, and even after calling them to unblock my card, the block was put back after 24 hours. After returning home, I learned this is their recent policy.

Posted by
3226 posts

Get a different bank.

Capital One 360 offers a debit card that costs you absolutely nothing - no account fees to open or maintain the account, no international transaction fees, no foreign exchange mark up. Perfect for use when traveling. Open it online and fund it with free funds transfers from your existing bank account (initiated from the Cap One side there is no fee, your bank might charge something) or use their mobile app to deposit checks. I have used them for the past 10 years and have never had any issues accessing my money when in Europe.

These days it is unacceptable to have a bank that will not allow you to use your debit or credit card outside the country if you tell them you will be doing so. You are correct that they don't care about their customers.

Posted by
2546 posts

How about taking along a second debit/ATM card from another account? Last resort, but good to have if there is an emergency, is the cash advance from a credit card. I maintain an account at an online bank (Capitalone360) that I use for travel and also have my debit card for my regular account. It's free and I can transfer money into it from my regular account. I wonder why your bank thinks that ATM use in the UK is a high security risk or are they blocking most international ATM usage. I'd bank elsewhere.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the tips, especially the Capital One 360--that should do the trick. Concur with the comments on changing banks, but there's not a lot of options for getting a significantly better bank in Casper, Wyoming.

Posted by
11677 posts

We just spend 5 weeks in the UK and our little credit union debit card worked just fine at all ATM's. I did advise them of the trip prior to travel.

If you did that and they still blocked the card when you got there, they have a bad business practice. There must be another bank you can try, even in a small town.

Posted by
2353 posts

I would get a new bank for sure! Denying access to your money is ridiculous.

Posted by
11497 posts

Yep, time for a new bank. That's crazy.
We've never had that problem with either Wells Fargo or the credit union where we bank.

Posted by
5817 posts

It's not unusual for a bank to still block your card after you have told them of a foreign trip. I have had it happen to me. Basically the decision is automatically made by an algorithm (computer says no!) No human intervention involved until you contact them again. BUT for a bank to still refuse you access to your money after you have contacted them is ridiculous and appalling business practise in this day and age. If using an ATM in the UK is seen as high risk behaviour heaven forbid you ever visit anywhere really exotic!

You say you have no choice of bank because you live in a small town. Sorry if this is a stupid question but dont you have Internet banking in the US? I can't think of the last time I needed to go into a bank. Everything is done online, with the very odd exception of when I receive a cheque which I can post.

Posted by
4 posts

Of course, I have those options, but there are some advantages to a local bank and in most every other way, they are acceptable, if at times, irritating. For now, opening an outside account on the internet, such as the suggested Capital One 360, seems like the way to go.

Posted by
6033 posts

"they didn't care about the problems they were causing the customer."

I'd definitely say it's time to get a new bank, maybe one that values their customers. I'm sure even Casper WY has credit unions. They are your best bet for low (or no) foreign transaction fees and no silly nonsense about not wanting you to use the ATM card abroad.

Posted by
4498 posts

there are some advantages to a local bank and in most every other way, they are acceptable, if at times, irritating. For now, opening an outside account on the internet, such as the suggested Capital One 360, seems like the way to go.

Honestly people, telling someone to completely change banks because of an inconvenience on a rare European vacation? The suggestions for alternates when they might be taking another trip are good and getting the 360 account solves your problem without upending your financial life.

It is not completely uncommon for small banks and credit unions to block some international transactions. Small institutions do not have the deep pockets to handle significant fraud losses and international usage can result in such losses. Why the UK would be a high risk location I cannot explain, but other western European countries have been mentioned here before.

Posted by
3226 posts

Douglas,

I have found that when a bank has restrictions like "you can't use your debit card to get money from an ATM in Europe ever", they have other restrictions as well that make banking overall more difficult than it needs to be. While not everyone needs all the services that a big national bank offers, and can afford the costs of those services especially if they don't need them, sticking with a bank that has policies that are "irritating" is not necessary today. Yes, moving to a different bank is not easy especially if you have multiple accounts, online banking, direct deposit, and all those other things which make banking so much easier today than it was for our parents. But sometimes moving to a different bank is good, even in Casper Wyoming.

Posted by
102 posts

Another card you might consider is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, especially if you already bank with BofA. There's no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and most importantly they made it really easy to tell them when I needed to use my card aboard (I did it through online banking). Also, I learned on a recent trip that BofA has partner banks in Europe that waive the non-BofA ATM $5 usage fee (you still have to pay the 3% transaction fee). In my recent trip to Spain, I was able to save few bucks by using Deutsche Bank ATMs. I believe in the UK the partner bank would be Barclays.

Posted by
1009 posts

Schwab Bank is another option. They have a pretty good online service.

Posted by
4805 posts

This is something you should discuss with your bank. It is not all that uncommon for some smaller banks/credit unions to block use, if not for all overseas transactions, maybe just for some countries. Spain and Italy come up often, as well as some Eastern European Countries. As has been mentioned. short of just changing banks, there are good second accounts like Schwab or Capitol One that work great for travel, but regardless, have two debit accounts and two credit accounts makes for a sound strategy.

Posted by
504 posts

There appear to be 10+ banks and about 8 credit unions in Casper. Surely you can find one that cares about their customers and is less irritating. I've always had the best service from credit unions.

Posted by
4949 posts

Is this policy in writing? They should have told you when you called to report the travel. That in itself is bad customer service. If you want to mess with them, I'd write a letter to the president, quote the policy, and ask them which one of their competitors they'd recommend. Even if they did change their policy, you couldn't trust them.

Posted by
323 posts

Don't get a BofA card if they charge a 3% up charge. You will do better with CapOne360, they charge no transaction fee in Europe, or any where over seas or in Mexico.

Posted by
7634 posts

If you switch to a Credit Union check with them beforehand on their policies. Don't just talk with a teller but talk with whichever manager is in charge of cards/fraud/unblocking things/travel notifications.

I do use a local credit union and found by accident 2 years ago that the UK is blocked unless you specifically ask for it to be opened. I was chatting with the teller when I was doing a travel notification to England and Wales and she mentioned that those countries were not on the blocked list but UK was. (clearly geographically challenged). When I said those are in the UK she said OH and I talked to the manager. Last year I went in, in person, before my trip to UK, talked with a teller asked for the extra unblocking of the UK. The first time I tried to use the debit card in London it wouldn't work. I had my brother call them, he talked with a manager and they processed the request. This year I will go in, do the travel request 2 weeks ahead, then a week ahead I will go in and talk with the manager to make sure it is opened.

I do travel with another debit card from a brokerage account so I have a back up. I try to use both within the first day or 2 of travel in case I have a problem.

In response to Stan's question about written policy, my experience with my credit union is that the tellers are completely unaware of the process after the travel notification leaves their cubicle. They have NO idea how this impacts a traveler.

Posted by
765 posts

I work for a community bank and it sounds like your banks specific policy as if you are going there we will unlock it for you. We do reserve the right to call about charges that look suspicious as customers have had their information stolen overseas, but otherwise no problem. We do always recommend that you take at least one other form of payment as backup, and I always take three.

Posted by
180 posts

Keep your bank. But why don't you set up a separate account for travel with a bank like Schwab that is great for international travel and reimburses all US ATM fees? Just link your normal account to the Schwab account and transfer money over. It's so satisfying to see your travel account grow as you plan your next trip!

Posted by
4949 posts

When I notify my bank about travel, I call the customer service number on the back of the card; never thought of speaking to a teller. I realize that tellers and sometimes the customer service reps at the bank branch don't know about such things. The service number goes to the card security staff who should know about policies on blocking of certain countries. I assumed incorrectly that that is what most people do when they "notify their bank".

Posted by
4498 posts

Stan - At my small local bank we inform the receptionist and she puts the information in the system.

Once again to several posters, please stop telling people to change their banking because it doesn't fit YOUR needs or priorities. Those of us that do use small local banks, we do so for OUR reasons and are willing to put up with some inconveniences. We do have plenty of choices and options and have made our choice. A travel forum is NOT the place to debate the virtues of various banking choices.

Posted by
2796 posts

I'll agree with Douglas. A number of years ago I got annoyed with some aspects of BOA's policies and customer service, but instead of closing my account, I opened another one at a local bank (which has since become larger). BOA had (and still has) lots of branches and ATMs in the area, as well as throughout the country, so it's convenient. But it's that 2d bank that I now use for my foreign ATM transactions, since there are no fees.

Posted by
2525 posts

Do what Pam S advises. I've never had a blocked debit/ATM card with Schwab Bank, but then I've never had a blocked credit card with the major credit card offerings either...whether international in scope or not. For the record, my regional bank automatically disables my ATM only card if not used every six months.

Posted by
4949 posts

Douglas, sorry, it just makes me angry in empathy.

Posted by
8906 posts

Any bank or credit union that would restrict my access to my cash anywhere in the world, would be history way faster than the drive thru window on a Friday afternoon! It's pure arrogance on the part of the suits who run that financial institution, and would close my account(s) on the earliest opportunity. Any other rational customer would do the same.

Posted by
5487 posts

Any bank or credit union that would restrict my access to my cash anywhere in the world....

I have not had my ATM card access to my bank account restricted with one exception. I attempted used my back up account ATM card in Canada but had a mental lapse and input the incorrect PIN code too many times. After the third (?) PIN attempt failed the bank automatically locked the account until I called from my home number and went through their security protocol to unlock the account.

I have also had a credit card locked and my legitimate transaction rejected while traveling to an adjacent state. Apparently the bank's "fraud detect" system had rejected a prior transaction at a Dollar General in a nearby town to the town we were visiting. That set off a "lock" on my account. The card account representative kept the account open but locked until I could return home to arrange for a replacement card & account number. (I could execute a transaction on the old account by calling.)

While having a ATM card "restricted" is inconvenient, it would be more inconvenient to have an account fraudulently stripped and having to go through the fraud protocol to get the funds restored. Lesson learned is to have back up ATM/Debit cards and back up credit cards and the loss prevent phone numbers.

Posted by
8906 posts

it would be more inconvenient to have an account fraudulently stripped
and having to go through the fraud protocol to get the funds restored.

Not really, it would take just one phone call the the bank to clear it up. Federal law provides consumer protection from debit card fraud: http://tinyurl.com/hjoue6l

Of course one should have access to backup funds when traveling. For me neither my primary or secondary source of funds will ever be at any FI that blocks my access at their whim...especially to the UK of all places.

Posted by
5487 posts

I've been fortunate not to have had a fraudulent ATM/Debit transaction but have had credit card fraudulent transactions that needed to be contested. The WSJ seems to think that ATM/Debit fraud can be a concern:
http://blogs.wsj.com/totalreturn/2015/05/19/fraud-worries-debit-vs-credit-cards/

If fraudulent transactions are made on your credit-card account, there
is no immediate financial hit while you straighten things out, notes
Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at website Bankrate.com.

By contrast, if a thief is able to withdraw dollars from your bank
account, “the horse is out of the barn,” he says. The money is gone
from your account until you are able to get it restored...

Many banks have instituted a zero-liability policy on their debit
cards, says Mr. McBride, because “they want people to use their debit
cards.”

But issuing banks usually have some discretion to determine if the
customer promptly reported the theft. And different types of
debit-card transactions may be treated differently.

Federal rules allow significant liability for fraudulent debit-card
transactions that aren’t reported in a timely manner.

With debit cards, the CFPB says that “if an unauthorized transaction
appears on your statement (but your card or PIN has not been lost or
stolen), under federal law you will not be liable for the debit if you
report it within 60 days after your account statement is sent to you.”

The rules are different if the card or PIN has been lost or stolen:
Report the problem within two business days and liability is limited
to $50 of unauthorized charges. Then the maximum liability rises to
$500.

Meanwhile, on ATM withdrawals, CardHub says coverage is at the discretion of the individual bank that issued the card.

Posted by
3226 posts

The suggestion to change banks is just that - a suggestion. Take it or leave it just like any other suggestions made on the forums.

Taking time to post here stating that there was a problem using a debit card and the bank that issued the debit card will not ever allow access to funds in the UK seems to imply suggestions were being requested on how to avoid the issue in the future. The suggestions have mainly been to open a second account at a bank that is known to allow successful ATM withdrawals using debit cards while in Europe. Problem stated, solutions offered.

Anyone is free to continue doing business with any bank they choose for whatever reason makes sense to them. If you like a specific bank even with restrictions and irritations they throw at you, I'm sure they appreciate you being their customer. For me, having a bank that would flat out tell me I can't use my debit card when traveling out of the country is a deal breaker. I'm not saying I want a bank that allows any transaction from anywhere to simply post my account because I don't and I do appreciate the fraud prevention blocks they have in place. I do however want to be able to get my money while traveling if I have told the bank I will be in that part of the world.

Posted by
4949 posts

So, why would the UK be considered particularly unsafe? Or was the policy really to block any transaction outside the US?

Posted by
3982 posts

A few years ago, when we were going to be in Rome, I called our bank to get our debit cards unblocked. The person I talked to said they were routinely blocking all Rome transactions, unless specifically requested not to, because they had had 3 customers with fraudulent transactions in Rome in the past month. And this at a small town local bank! She said they would unblock our cards, but strongly urged us to get our euros before we got to Rome, and to be extra vigilant.

So it could just be that the poster's bank has seen unusual fraudulent activity in Britain.

On our last trip, just last month, our bank re-blocked our unblocked card while we were in England, but I was able to clear it up with a phone call. That leads me to think there was something going on.

Posted by
823 posts

U.S. bank card issuers (Visa, MC, etc.) routinely block ALL foreign transactions until you call their fraud prevention department to have them unblocked. Card-skimming is even more rampant in Europe than it is in the USA (although the USA is doing its darnedest to catch up).

Advise:

  • Try not to use an outdoor ATM. If you must, use one that is monitored by multiple CCTV cameras. If at all possible, use one in a bank lobby or secured ATM facility.
  • Look over the ATM REALLY good for anything that looks out of place. Fake fronts, telltale signs of tampering, cameras pointing at the keypad, etc. BTW - having an ATM "eat" your card isn't something the card-skimmer (thief) did, they want you to keep using your card versus calling your bank to report it "lost." I actually witnessed the Florence Carabinieri shut down an ATM just off Piazza della Signoria because they found a suspicious device attached to it.

Read up on the State Department travel site about card skimming. Or, just google the subject.

I always take credit cards from two different banks and debit cards from two different accounts. Redundancy and back-up is aim here. I also don't use my debit for point of sale transactions or use my credit cards for ATM withdrawals.

If you card is declined, it is still possible to use it. But, you must call the fraud prevention department of the issuer and have a temporary exception made. This normally requires you to tell them the name of vender making the charge and the approximate amount. They will watch for this transaction - approve it - then close your card to further activity. It's a real pain, but it works. (Now you know why I carry back-up cards.) Having a cell phone with a local SIM comes in really handy here...

As Chip & Pin and Chip & Signature cards become the norm, card skimming will slowly fade away. Chip cards in Europe have reduced credit card fraud tremendously. The crooks are now targeting mainly foreign travelers who don't have chipped cards because their the easiest prey.

BTW - my MC "Chip & Signature" card works just fine as a "Chip & Pin" card in Italian vending machines when using the PIN issued by the bank. Just remember, it may take a bank 2 weeks or more to issue you, by mail, a PIN number and most banks treat the PIN as being unique to THAT chip (so it can't be changed without issuing a new card).

Posted by
1216 posts

American Express' fraud prevention algorithms have a tendency to pick up purchases from airlines and select other businesses and preemptively assume you're actually going on vacation. European train ticket purchases (in my case D Bahn) seem to flag it so that if you call in travel plans, the automated phone tree will tell you they already knew about your upcoming trip.

And threads like this do make me appreciate my local credit union that has military roots and still contains a high percentage of members who might find themselves suddenly in many interesting parts of the world without a chance to notify EFCU of their travel plans ahead of time. Their fraud department also goes above and beyond when a member has issues (we had some problems with identity theft a few years back, and they couldn't have been more helpful in taking care of our needs) , and I don't think ATM withdrawls from pretty much anywhere there's a machine phase them.

Posted by
3982 posts

BTW - my MC "Chip & Signature" card works just fine as a "Chip & Pin" card in Italian vending machines when using the PIN issued by the bank. Just remember, it may take a bank 2 weeks or more to issue you, by mail, a PIN number and most banks treat the PIN as being unique to THAT chip (so it can't be changed without issuing a new card).

Aha! We got our new Chip cards just before we left for out last RS tour, and when I asked about PINs, I was told our old PINs would still work. Luckily, we never needed to use the PINs... When we got home we found in our mailbox new PINs for our new cards. What caught my attention was that each card - not just each card number - has its own PIN.

So before, DH and I each had a card ending in "1234" and we had the same PIN. For our other card, ending in "7890" we had another PIN. Now for what appear to be the same cards, with the same numbers, we have four different PINs.

I appreciate the added security, but remembering four PINs (DH is hopeless at that) will be a challenge.

Posted by
51 posts

I have to agree with the Capital One 360 debit card. Worked like a charm. I pulled Euro 400 out last week in Florence and it was USD 456 or 1.14 on the exchange (just checked my Capital One acct), so not outrageous.

However - when checking account from Italy on the web, the Capital One 360 site recognized I was connecting from out of the USA and it asked me security questions I had never input in the first place - so apparently they have an access prevention scheme for web access - however card and pin worked perfectly.

Posted by
6752 posts

This is a good lesson for all because everyone's account at your institution can be closed down if there is a major security breach--very inconvenient if you are overseas and need to receive a new card in the mail, pin number, and reactivate at a machine owned by the bank. Happened to us about five years ago. This reinforces the need for at the very least one other debit account when traveling.

Second, we keep a second account with Andrews Federal Credit Union, and even a third account we can draw on if needed because our beloved CU has poor rates for traveling. No need to change banks/CU if you find it good in every other way, just add a second account elsewhere and let your little CU deal with the world in its own way as it serves the community of Casper.

Posted by
20599 posts

.....but remembering four PINs (DH is hopeless at that) will be a challenge......

We encode the pin number right on the card. Never have a problem remembering it. Someone might see us counting on our fingers before we use it.

Posted by
485 posts

We carry two separate ATM cards from different institutions for this very reason. One card is always secured separately from the other. Also we carry three separate credit cards with two being secured separately too.

Posted by
5288 posts

@Frank -- how do you "encode" the PIN on the card ? Do you mean you write the number on the card, or attach a sticky-note ?? Or do you have a code book or decoder ring ?? I'm always looking for mnemonic devices to remember my passwords.

Posted by
3226 posts

For credit and debit cards that allow you to pick your own PIN, it is simple to pick 4 digits from the card number and make that the PIN. You can use whatever "formula" you choose to pick those digits in whatever order or location within the full card number.

If the PIN is pre assigned and nonchangeable, it can become more difficult, but you could probably write something inconspicuously in the signature panel that would help you remember the PIN.

Not suggesting you do any of this, but just presenting an idea of how it might be done.

Posted by
2347 posts

You can easily put PIN's in your phone, disguised as a phone number. No one else knows you don't really have an Aunt Fanny. Put in a phone number using the PIN as the last 4 digits.

Posted by
3982 posts

Karen, that's actually what I do. I don't have a cell phone, but I do have a list of family and friend phone numbers, two of whom (now four) are specious. I can remember our debit card PIN, because I got to set it myself. DH and I have the same PIN, because our debit cards have different numbers. I am curious, however, about what Frank does. Maybe write the number + a constant on the card? Like 6789 instead of 1234? i.e.: constant = 5.

Posted by
20599 posts

Ok, I use what is called a alpha/numeric substitution code. Pick any word or phrase that is at least nine letters long with no repeating letters. For example - The dog is black or universal. There are hundreds of words and phrases that meet the test. Using universal, assign 1 to u, 2 to n,..... 9 is l and zero is zero. Pin 4422 becomes vvnn, or 2109 becomes nuol. You can number backwards with l being 1 and a is 2. If you use the phrase, The dog is black. Obviously longer than ten letters. You can start with T is 1 and l is 0. Or T is 0 and l is 9. There are literally thousands of combinations available and the code is impossible to break by any thief. I actually print in 9pt type and tape a little square of paper to the card. The key is not to make it so complicated that you cannot decode it yourself. When I talk about counting on my fingers. I am spelling on my mind and counting with my fingers - u, n, i, v, e - Yep, e is 5.

After you use it a couple of times when traveling you remember the pin number. But we put it on all our cards simply because we have some cards that we use only when traveling and we need a reminder for the pin number associated with that card.

Posted by
3982 posts

Wow, great idea! Like you, we have cards that only get used when we're traveling - say, three weeks or so once a year. Thank you very much. Better than carrying around a list of phone numbers, because the encrypted PIN is right there on the card.

Thanks, Frank.

Posted by
1038 posts

a vote "for" small town banks.....I was traveling with a new ATM card, stopped into the bank to tell them I was going overseas....the teller I spoke to put all of the relevant info (countries, dates) into the computer, then made sure I had her personal cell phone number in case there was a crisis!! ok, she is a member of my church, but still.....talk about being accommodating to make sure I had no issues!!

Posted by
3982 posts

Ditto, doric8: I love my small town bank. Once, many many years ago, I was trying to get home from Europe, and had to buy a plane ticket without a credit card (I had about $10 cash!). PanAm called my bank, who okayed a check over the phone! Thus allowing me to get home. Since it was a small town, the banker in question knew my dad, I had gone to school with the president's son, we went to church with the vice-president... It beats the heck out of Bank of America or Wells Fargo.

Posted by
48 posts

Hi
You think that's bad, I didn't want to bring loads of different currency so I wanted to use my Capital One credit card. Half way through a 16 day trip they declined my card. I set everything up before traveling, current on payments/had 3,000. free for purchases. The only answer I ever got from someone in India was "they thought I was making to many purchases ". REALLY! If it wasn't for the second backup card we brought, I don't know what we would have done. Lesson learned, always bring cash. Plus I'll never use Capital One again-ever!

Posted by
4 posts

i just applied for the 360card, thanks to all the info shared here. The customer svc rep walked me thru the process, which was super easy, and I will get my card before i depart for England. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
503 posts

I, too signed up for the Capitalone 360 Debit card based on advice here. I did this because every time I've tried to use another debit card that I have, it always gets blocked after one use. This, despite the fact that I go to the bank prior to my trip and give them my dates and countries. It has been so frustrating. I've heard every excuse in the book from them as to why this happens. Like others, I do want to stay with this local bank as it is easy, convenient and their ATMs are everywhere in my area and thus free for me to use here at home. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Capitalone card works on my Best of Eastern Europe trip coming up next week. Thanks everyone who recommended it.

Posted by
123 posts

I joined my local credit union after Bank of America instituted a 3% fee for all ATM withdrawals abroad. Last year I had problems at ATMs in Belgium when I tried to use the credit union debit card, and had to fall back to the BofA card. This year, the credit union sent new debit cards with chips on them, and I had no trouble at all with ATMs in England. When I returned home and reconciled my account, I saw that I was getting a good exchange rate, and there were no fees at all. Of course I contacted both BofA and the credit union before we left for the trip, and told them the dates and countries we would be in. Standard practice when we travel. I still have some skepticism about some of the service offered by the credit union (and have had nothing but good service from BofA), so I keep both accounts.

Posted by
3 posts

I think that you might want to shop around for a new bank and make sure that one of the questions you ask them is - what do customers have to do when they want to use their ATM cards outside of the U.S. I've been using my ATM card abroad for years and haven't had any problems. I also make sure that I buy about 200 to 300 in the local currency (Pound Sterling or Euros) before I leave the U.S., that way I don't have to deal with changing money the first day or two.

Posted by
6 posts

I'm leary of using my debit card tied to my everyday bank account, so plan to be using the AAA Travel Money reloadable debit card (Visa branded). Even comes with a chip/PIN. For the small amount of fees involved, it's worth the peace of mind to me. (Any leftover funds can be used for everyday purchases back home.) I will be double checking the fees before I buy, though (can't get that info on my local club's website).

Posted by
16766 posts

Quertymiss, I'd try to find a different option if I were you. Could you set up a separate account at your preferred banking institution and transfer excess funds there, at least for the duration of your trip?

Consumer Reports has some useful information about stored-value cards.

Posted by
3226 posts

Recheck those fees! There are more than you think for the Travel Money card.

There is a fee to load the card, a fee for every single purchase, a foreign exchange fee to convert to whatever the payment currency is, a fee to check balances, fees on fees on fees! And of the last 10 people I knew who had this exact card on tours NONE of them worked.

Posted by
1 posts

If you're a current or former member of the US military, or have a family member who is, or are a cadet or midshipmen at an academy, you should check out usaa.com. I've been a member for over 30 years and have never had any problems with overseas travel using foreign ATMs.

Posted by
300 posts

Although I make it a habit to inform my credit card issuers (Capital One sometimes blocks charges for train reservations made from home before traveling) I've generally not bothered to inform my local bank before taking the ATM card overseas. It hasn't been a problem in nearly 25 years of worldwide travel. Maybe I'm just lucky but maybe "normal use" for me includes some overseas withdrawals once in awhile.

Posted by
1076 posts

I am also a USAA member (50 years) but I always notify them of my out of country trips. Normally I do it online. For my upcoming trip I had to notify them by phone as the country (Myanmar) I am going to is not on their list of countries to visit.

Posted by
7634 posts

Since this thread got boosted back to the top I want to add something. I posted early on the thread about my problems last year in UK.

This year I went in to the Credit Union, talked with a teller (my usual M.O.) and had a short discussion. She was appalled that I was stuck without my debit card last year and assured me it would not happen again. She said, in fact, she would get the guy who actually does the unlocking of the account to call me when he did it, which she added would be within the next week. Off I went and within 5 minutes...literally I had not gotten to my stop down the street, lol...I got a call from the guy who said everything was unlocked for my time frame and I was good to go. The card worked perfectly in Paris, Germany, Switzerland and when I finally got to London.

Every year I learn one more piece in the puzzle.

Posted by
1503 posts

I had Bank of America do this to me...

My solution... I blocked them from receiving any more of my funds. I moved to USAA and have never had any more issues!

Posted by
478 posts

This thread is reminds me of what happened on my trip to Germany/Austria three weeks ago. I travel overseas nearly every year. As usual, I go to my bank and give them the dates of when/where I'll be. I've never had any trouble before but three weeks ago was a different story. We arrived in Frankfurt on Saturday. Tried my ATM card same day and it was blocked. I had to wait until Monday evening German time (as banks open 9am) to call. The customer service rep had no clue what was going on, I was on hold off and on nearly 25 minutes, then she assured me problem was fixed. Tuesday I tried my card again and AGAIN it didn't work. That's 4 days with no cash available. This time I talked with a teller from my own branch and royally chewed them out. They said something about 'an extra layer of security, blah, blah, blah' and assured me the block on my card was fixed. It was but not without some considerable hassle, time spent on the phone, and NO CASH.

Posted by
75 posts

The easy method. Call your bank(s) and Credit Card companies (800 number on back of credit cards for the latter, for ATM card talk to a bank person, not a credit card person). Have all your cards/accounts you expect to use overseas flagged for only the dates of travel. Important: As you do this you are listing each bank or credit card company on a sheet of paper listing source and both the Domestic and International Telephone contact numbers. Make 3 copies.. 1 goes in your suitcase which you will put in your money belt (you are wearing a money belt, right ?) together with copies of Passport and Drivers License. The other copy give to your wife, lover, Dalmatian, Traveling partner. I would also give one to a Contact at home (maybe the same person as your Emergency contact on your US Passport). The latter is a good idea, so that in a case where you can't get your overseas ATM or credit card issue solved remotely, a home contact can give the Domestic Company person your contact information.

You don't want any surprises at an ATM, store, restaurant, etc. What I offered corrects that. Also, if any credit card allows you to assign a pin number, that's an added layer of protection. While you are calling your banks and credit cards, it's a great time to find out which ones have foreign transaction fees (FTF) (usually 2-3% of transaction). American Express has no FTF. They also don't flag Emex accounts for foreign travel. I have a habit of not signing my cards. Wrong.

Posted by
395 posts

I set up a "travel" debit card with my credit union. There is no overdraft. I can only withdraw available funds. It cannot take money away from my other accounts. However, I can transfer money from my other accounts to the travel account which is a very simple process.

So basically I transferred money to the account shortly before making a withdraw. Otherwise there is only about $10 balance in the account.

Posted by
3226 posts

SOME AmEx cards still do have foreign transaction fees. Mine charges 2.7%. The Platinum and higher level cards mostly do not.

Be very careful when applying for any specific card to verify exactly what fees are charged.