ATM use

After reading a tip on this site a couple of years ago, we opened an account with our credit union for ATM withdrawals as their rates were far superior to those of my regular accounts. We use this account solely for travel abroad, maybe once or twice a year. Prior to departure, I called my credit union to check the balance and advise them of our travel plans. Good to go. Until the following day when the ATM in Amsterdam rejected my card. An URGENT email later, it turns out my account had been inactive for one year and had been closed. Quickly rectified, but a heart stopper nonetheless. This may be a rare instance, but something now to add to the "to do" list. Also reconfirmed our strategy of taking multiple cards on different accounts. And I did not regret the $10 I spent to get euros before leaving home. Hope this may help someone else. "Your card has been denied. Please contact your bank" is a message I hope never to see again.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

You would also think that if the credit union closed the account, they would have cashed it out so there would be NO balance.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10840 posts

That is not uncommon. Our credit union does the same thing but since we have one of our social security checks deposited into that account this keeps it active. One other thing we always do a couple weeks before we leave is to use all of our debit cards to make a small withdrawn from all of our accounts. That gives a chance to detect any problems especially with passwords, mag strip or problems with inactive accounts. We didn't do that recently for a local trip and found that the mag strip on one of our debit as bad and the card could not be used. Easily handle since we were state side but a pain had we been in Europe.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2372 posts

Glad it worked out. But it serves as a warning to for those here that always recommend opening new bank accounts just to avoid $50 or so in ATM fees. This might make sense for those that travel often, but most visitors to this helpline rarely travel to Europe and I've never really understood the rush to open new bank accounts. Many banks/CUs will charge an inactive fee or, in your case, close the account for inactivity.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
797 posts

Apparently that IS pretty common with credit unions. My experience was very similar to your's. I make monthly deposits to the account but, because I had not ued the card in over a year, the CU canceled it without notifying me. This happended even though I notified the credit union before leaving on the trip. Since this was a backup card, I used my bank's ATM on the trip and dealt with the credit union after I got home. I used to get great service at the CU, but these days the bank seems a lot better staffed and more professional. Doug, the purpose in opening a second, separate account has nothing to do with saving a few bucks. It is to avoid this type situation with nothing to fall back on. I got a card for my existing CU account precisely because I had the bad luck of ATMs rejecting my bank card on a Sunday and being unable to do anything about it until the next day.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3576 posts

Youdda thunk the phone agent might have noticed the account was closed...It wouldn't dawn on me to have to ask about that, esp. after checking the balance, etc. I'm glad it worked out OK for you - after your heart started beating again ;-) And THIS is another reason why I start off with some Euro...

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

They might have just disabled the ATM card due to lack of use. My credit union did this to me ... despite the fact that there was tons of activity on the account (deposits and direct debit payments). I just rarely use the ATM because I have a second account at a bank near my home which is far more convenient for getting cash. I too was pretty annoyed that they hadn't notified me (but fortunately, I was not on a trip). I learned that they disable ATM cards if there is no activity for a year.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10840 posts

In these days of internet access, on line banking, fraud, ID theft, server breeches, etc., we be thankful that the banks are taking these security measures instead of complaining about it. But, my bank just installed a third level of security which now requires remembering my exact answer to half a dozen security questions, which I finding frustrating.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7670 posts

Those security questions can be a pain, but I appreciate them. I just never choose the ones that ask for a "favorite" anything, since that can change over time. I always choose the ones with absolute answers, like my dad's middle name.

Posted by Denny
Columbus, OH, USA
733 posts

I'm glad if this helps someone. I have learned so much from this helpline. And yes, yudda thunk, but there you are. It never dawned on me either to even consider checking the status. Well, lesson learned and happy ending. And just when I was beginning to think I really could pack AND worry less. The challenge continues.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3576 posts

Security questions - aaararrggghhh!!! Please, programmers out there reading this post, please don't use bad security questions (favorite restaurant, favorite author, first vacation). Our credit union recently switched to ALL bad security questions - no more 'birth city' nor 'high school mascot' choices. My husband designs software, and likes to think he does so smartly; when I hear his forehead banging against the tabletop, I know it's Credit Union Stupid Security Question Time! They don't care what else you know about your account - the exact balance; the last 37 deposits, withdrawals, and their dates; every address they've ever known you by; everyone's SS#...they just want to know your favorite food... Climbing off of soap box...

Posted by Ann
Sunnyvale
49 posts

The reason a lot of places are switching to those types of security questions is because people can find out what your father's middle name is rather easily (or your first address, or your high school or mother's maiden name, etc) so they changed the questions to make it harder for thieves to get that info, therefore making it harder for us to remember. :) Plus, for those questions, I don't give the real answer, I give a made up one, for example, first car? tricycle or something like that. Back to the original topic, I like the idea of opening an account just for travel as a backup card.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10840 posts

I KNOW the reasons. Doesn't mean I have to like them. I have gotten burned a few times because I forget if my home town was north platte, or North Platte or northplatte. I realize that you do not really have to answer the question and have wondered if you could use a string of digits or a phrase for all the question like - I am here to get money. or nonsense like Toonight is the night. Sense to me something like that would be even more secure.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Two-factor authentication is deliberately meant to be a roadblock and I for one am very glad that it is. It gives me an additional measure of peace of mind for protecting my most important online transactions. A few things I do to make it easier on myself: - Make a rule for myself - all uppercase, all lowercase or sentence case (first letter only capitalized), and use my rule consistently across various sites. - Use one-word-only answers so spaces pose no problem. - Consistently place a special character at the end of the answer, such as a question mark, if allowed. - For really strong protection, don't use a word at all, but use an acronym, e.g.: Question: What was the name of your first pet? Answer: MFPNWG = My First Pet's Name Was Ginger I can then write the full answer down somewhere and only I will know what it means and how/where it's used. There are software packages and apps with encryption available that help with this. If you want to get really slick, create a cipher (code) like Julius Caesar and Leonardo Da Vinci did. Makes it a bit more fun. My assets represent what I work my butt off for and my future, so I am very happy there are increasingly strong cybersecurity protections for them.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2372 posts

Doug, the purpose in opening a second, separate account has nothing to do with saving a few bucks. It is to avoid this type situation with nothing to fall back on. Well that makes some sense, though ironically having a little used second account might not help if that account is locked do to inactivity... And the oft-quoted advice here for opening second accounts or new credit cards is almost always related to questions about fees.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1518 posts

We got a call recently from Chase about unusual activity on our debit card. Well, first of all, it was 5 days after the transaction, but whatever. My husband had used it to pay for a dentist visit, and Chase flagged it. Is someone really going to use a stolen card to pay to get their teeth cleaned?

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I use my second account for travel and one other thing each month for the sole purpose of keeping it active. Also, because of all the ATM fraud in recent months, I've noticed that CHASE has stepped up its fraud protection efforts. Anything outside one's normal spending pattern can kick off an alert.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
797 posts

Every problem has a solution, and vice versa. A second card can fail, too, but I like the odds that at least one will work.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
597 posts

We have a 2nd checking account for vacation funds that get an automated deposit monthly and only use the ATM's for our intl trips. But several weeks before our trip, we "test" the ATM cards from both accounts to make sure they are still active and work (and are sure of the PINS).

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

Denny, You just saved us a load of trouble. After your post, we did check our AFCU Visa and account. The Visa works but the ATM doesn't--yet. Have to get it opened. Thank you!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7815 posts

Denny that would have been scary and annoying. I would have been quite annoyed at my Credit Union if I was you, you did say you had called them to check the balance and advise them of your travel plans.. it seems when they put a travel notice on your account they would have noticed it was closed down.. that seems like a rather large oversight on their part.