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No more need to notify banks about your travel plans (maybe)

I've received this notice from two different banks so far this year:

"You no longer need to notify us if you’re planning to use your credit card or debit card while travelling.
No matter where you are, our fraud systems will monitor your account for suspicious and unauthorized transactions. Please keep your contact information up-to-date in the “My Profile” section of Online Banking in case we need to reach you."

So, at least in Canada, it appears we no longer need to notify our banks about travel plans to avoid having them refuse charges from overseas. Has anyone in the States received similar notices? Shall we stop giving new travellers advice to call their banks before leaving?

Posted by
2119 posts

My cards have told me not to tell them about US travel but they're still taking my out of country travel info. I think I'll keep letting mine know for now - mostly because every time we use our US cards to pre-buy things....train tickets, plane tickets, hotel reservation, we inevitably have the cards "shut down" for fraud activity. I'd rather take care of that before I leave than try to do it on my cell phone while I'm traveling.

Posted by
2701 posts

Most likely because our neighbors to the north use "smart cards" - chip and pin and down here were relegated to chip and scribble. DUMB! A few years ago, I lost three prime seats at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal because Amex decided it was a fraudulent purchase. Still trying to get seats as good.☹️
Most cc companies here still recommend notification of foreign travel.

Posted by
6538 posts

Rather than a convenience, not having to notify them would make me feel less safe. In fact I'd like to do the reverse and ask them to block any charge that appears from outside the US, unless I notify them. That would be customer service.

Posted by
5697 posts

As long as my bank/credit card company has a "travel notification" section online, I will fill it out. Annoyingly, Charles Schwab and Bank of America have a 30-day limit so I have to re-notify them just before the first notice expires. And the Schwab debit card DOES have a chip.
Side note for Stan -- you CAN have some cards set up to alert you whenever there is a foreign transaction.

Posted by
1096 posts

Unwise not to notify them. Lets say you don't take your main cell phone with you that is on record, but get one at your destination or a local SIM card. While the bank is trying to contact you at home or your cell & unable to, they decide to block any further purchases or withdrawals. Not good at all.

Posted by
31435 posts

Nelly,

I noticed that trend last fall as I went through the list to notify my financial institutions. Several of them had recorded messages stating that notification was no longer required. However there were a few that still wanted the information, including travel dates and which countries I'd be visiting. When I go through the list this year, I'll make a note of which ones no longer want to be notified.

Posted by
3594 posts

I might be wrong (it's happened before -- a lot) but "...no longer need to notify us..." is probably not for your convenience, but the bank's convenience. They'd rather suffer a small loss than hire enough people to really be able to have real customer service. So far as not being liable for fraudulent charges, that is, to me, a secondary consideration --- the pain in the anatomy aggravation of having a card blocked and having to get it unblocked while overseas is a much greater consideration. Continuing to notify them will not do any harm, and might just be good insurance since computerized systems don't always work as they should.

Posted by
8976 posts

Continuing to notify them will not do any harm,

My last trip I had forgotten that Chase doesn't need travel plans anymore and sent them a message via their home banking site. They sent back an automated message reiterating the new policy, so I essentially spun my wheels.

Over the years I have had my cards blocked a few times despite notifying the banks in advance. It's never been a major hassle getting them unblocked. Took no more than five minutes via a collect call, customer service is available 24/7.

Posted by
100 posts

Regarding Chase--two months ago we were RVing the Phoenix area and Chase blocked our credit card--they said we had not notified them that we were traveling out of California--In less than two weeks we'll be in Italy, and we called Bank of American and Chase and our credit union; they all took the messege--It would not be much fun to arrive in Milan and find our card blocked at the ATM in the airport--that happened on a previous trip in 2006 by B of A, even through we had in person notified them about our European travel dates

Posted by
671 posts

I have notified Chase on several occasions prior to travelling to Europe and also told them I was also going to make some international on-line transactions (like purchasing rail tickets) using my Visa card before our travel dates. Yet, on several occasions over the past 5 years, I have had to call them a second time because VISA International blocked the transaction. So, apparently, the bank and Visa International don't necessarily communicate until the customer runs into a problem.

Posted by
31435 posts

Kaeleku,

"In addition to the fact you should be using Project Fi or TMobile instead of messing with local sim cars"

I think it's important to point out that people don't have to be using T-Mobile or the very limited service offered by Project Fi in order to achieve the same results. Anyone roaming with their home cell network is also able to receive phone calls or E-mails from their financial institutions regardless of whether they're using AT&T, Verizon or in my case the Canadian networks. I know that as I've received calls from my credit union while I was travelling in Europe regarding "suspicious" activity on my account. Even if someone is only travelling with an iPad or Netbook for use in Wi-Fi areas, E-mail is still possible.

I do agree that "messing with local SIM cards" is not a good idea as each time the user changes cards, their phone number and terms of servcie change. That makes it very difficult for financial institutions or others to know how to contact them. It also forces the banks to make an international long distance call, which they may not be willing to do (easier just to "freeze" the account and wait for the customer to call them).

Posted by
3487 posts

The only credit card I have that does not want international travel notification is American Express. They have been that way for several years now.

All of the others I have prominently display "International Travel Notification" links on their online banking web pages. That includes Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, and others. What may have been eliminated is notification for travel within the US (or your home country). I have never had cards where I had to let them know if I was traveling outside my home state but still within the US probably because I have always traveled a lot.

Until those web forms go away, I will continue to tell the issuers of whatever cards I decide to take with me that I will be traveling internationally. I will also continue to suggest that other travelers do the same.

Posted by
3487 posts

Robert,

"VISA International blocked the transaction"

Convenient excuse, isn't it? :-) Absolutely not true unless your bank was unavailable for approval when the transaction came through. Visa International just routes the transaction through the network from the merchant to your bank and back again. If your bank is unavailable for whatever reason (weekly computer reboot for example), the network has no choice but to decline. It is more likely that they forgot to enter the travel notice into their system, or it was still making its way through the bureaucracy, to be active.

Posted by
2916 posts

While I notify BOA and Cap One when I travel to Europe, I've never bothered to notify Andrews FCU, and I've never had a rejected credit card transaction. Maybe it's because they cater to people who travel.

Posted by
31435 posts

Kaeleku,

What I meant by the "very limited service" is that Project Fi only operates on a very few Android phone models. For the huge number of people using iPhones or other models, it's completely useless.

I don't remember "calling the combined coverage areas of the sprint and tmobile networks "limited". Whenever one travels overseas, mobile phone users are accessing the cellular networks of local network providers who operate the towers and other infrastructure in their respective areas (which is what you were doing when you were texting from the wilds of Ecuador). Project Fi is a "mobile virtual network operator" and it doesn't own or operate any cellular networks, but rather contracts to use those of Sprint or T-Mobile, or their roaming partners.

Posted by
4529 posts

It might help for people to understand how banks detect fraud. There are 3 ways:

  1. Geographically. The computer is set up to flag any transaction outside of a geographical area or from certain locations. International is a very common setting (ie: if a transaction originates outside your country of origin, it will be flagged). This is the main reason why most banks require notification of foreign travel. But is also easy for banks to adjust internally and explains why some banks no longer require notifications.

  2. Algorithms. Your bank's computers have complicated algorithms on your spending habits. Make a purchase outside those parameters and it might be flagged. This explains why you might get a call or email after a purchase. It also is why the bank almost always will know your card has been stolen or copied before you do. These systems have gotten much more sophisticated in recent years and is why some banks are eliminating the travel notifications.

  3. Reporting. If you or a merchant reports the card stolen or is being fraudulently used. This used to be the most common method many decades ago and why banks have a requirement that you notify them if your card has been lost or stolen or you could be on the hook for the charges. But method 2 has made this almost obsolete.

Every bank has its own policies and systems so just because one bank tells you no longer to notify them of travel doesn't mean another bank won't still require it. And even if you don't have to notify them (and sometimes even if you did notify them), the bank's computers may still flag a foreign purchase if it doesn't fit within the algorithm of your usage.

People should still make the effort to notify their banks of foreign travel and if it isn't required by their bank, they will be told. Some banks though may remove the notification from their webpage (one of my CC's doesn't have a website notification anymore). So our advice to travelers here should still be to notify their banks but that some may not require or accept it anymore.

Posted by
103 posts

While AmEx may no longer require notification of out of country travel, I still call and their customer service people seem happy to record my travel plans and dates. On the other hand PNC Visa's algorithms are for sh*t as far as our household is concerned. My husband purchases things over the Internet regularly, but their fraud protection people call him almost every time he makes an online purchase. And it's a fully automated call so he has to wade through the call handling system once for each purchase. He can't just tell a person that everything's OK and be done with it.

My biggest gripe is that I live in Detroit a 20 minute drive from the Canadian border. We drive from Detroit to Windsor for dinner, concerts, and shopping. Yet our bank can't deal with the fact that, to many of us, it's all one big metropolitan area. I have to call them every time I want to use a credit card across the river though, fortunately, my bank's ATM card always works just fine.

Posted by
6538 posts

I just got a letter from AmEx explaining why they did not need notification. The gist of it being that they were monitoring purchases and could see planned travel. I infer that they meant that if you bought airplane tickets with your AmEx, they would know when and where you were going. Seems like that's a bit of a leap to me.

Posted by
2000 posts

I'm planning a trip to France next month. The 2 banks and 1 credit union where I have cards have the online capability of informing them you plan to use your cards abroad -- so I assume this is still of some value to them. I will continue to inform them as long as they allow me to.

Posted by
1976 posts

I haven't heard anything like this from my credit union and I'll continue to notify them indefinitely, not only about international trips but also domestic ones.

We were in London in October and my sister notified US Bank before she left, that she'd be using her debit card in London. When she arrived, she tried to withdraw cash from 3 different ATMs but each transaction was denied. When she called the bank, she found out they hadn't received notice of her trip. Whoever she talked to forgot to note it in her account. After the phone call, she tried another withdrawal but that was denied, so she had to call the bank a second time. Finally, after that call, she was able to use her card. Apparently in some cases it's worth calling not just once, but perhaps twice!

Posted by
5697 posts

If you notify them online, some banks will send a confirmation notice (I printed it out, but not sure what good it will do if some human intervention is required and the human ... forgot.)

Posted by
5533 posts

We continue to notify our credit card issuers (especially Chase), and have even found cases where we told them about future travel, and on a subsequent call (but before leaving the USA) they indicated they didn't have that prior information in their records! We've even had a few cases where making a purchase from home (like for tickets to the Tattoo in Edinburgh), the transaction was questioned, and we had to contact Verified by VISA to confirm our purchase before they'd let it go through. It must be simpler/safer in Alberta and Canada?

Posted by
31435 posts

Cyn,

" It must be simpler/safer in Alberta and Canada?"

That's certainly possible. I rarely have any problems of the type you mentioned when notifying my financial institutions. One call and it's done!

Posted by
5697 posts

Further to my post above -- if you notify a card issuer and there is a problem with your account, they WILL get back to you. I gave Schwab a detailed list of countries and got an email back that they could not process my request; turns out that when I pulled the card out of my money belt, where it lives next to my passport between trips, I mis-read the expiration year and the card had already expired. NOT what you want to learn a week before a major trip! FedEx will be delivering the reissued card the day before we leave.
(Note to self -- test the card well in advance of departure date.)

Posted by
3584 posts

I think the algorithms used must be pretty sophisticated. I have had apartment deposits, admissions, and train tickets that charged for future Europe travel on cards I hardly use, not the one I used to book the airline tickets, but the charges go thru without any prior notification. Yet the guy I sit next to at work gets called for DOMESTIC fraud abuse pretty much as soon as it happens. How do they know that a New York charge is bad for him, but an Italy charge is good for me?

Posted by
2349 posts

Because they know everything about you, and the algorithms reflect that. They know that you're reading the Rick Steves site, and that you look at Italy more often. The fraud alert kicks in if you book a non-RS hotel! Or if you order a 35" suitcase.

Posted by
9546 posts

I had to jump thru hoops like Sarah's sister did when I went to London last year. I had gone in to notify my small credit union because I know UK is on their fraud list because one time, long ago and far away, someone committed fraud there. I discussed this with the teller, she did the extra step necessary to take care of it. I got to London and tried my card (Labor Day here in US) and it didn't work. Tried it again later in the day at another ATM/cashpoint. No dice. Tried it again Tuesday AM, and it didn't work. Fortunately there is a place on the form to designate someone to act for you and I had filled that out. I notified my brother via email and he called the bank, sure enough someone had forgotten. It was available within the hour. So my plan for this year is to again go in 2 weeks before my trip for the travel notification. Go in again the week before and make sure the paperwork has been processed AND have my brother on the account again so he can take care of things if needed. Plus I brought home a wad of £'s and €'s to get me started!

My Chase card still has a travel notification section online as well. As someone else said upthread, it does irk me that you can only put in a travel notification for 30 days.

Posted by
11450 posts

Was in my bank today, the TD bank. Helped my dd set up an account just for her trip. I asked about the " no need to notify" and the account rep told me " thats what they say, but i still let them know, phone number on back of cards" .

Posted by
10983 posts

I was booking travel in Europe yesterday and one of my chase cards kept getting rejected. The first time I got a text asking if it was me trying to charge. The second one I didn't. I called Chase and they didn't know why it was rejected.

The strange thing, I tried a different Chase card to book these things and it wen't through without a problem.

The first person I spoke to took all my travel info and put that on all my Chase cards. I'm going to double check before I leave.