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Travel Credit Card with Best Customer Assistance Help?

The last leg of our two week Switzerland to Paris trip was stained by our experience with Bank of America.

My husband forgot the first rule of traveling on the Metro with luggage. (Put EVERYTHING in your money belt.) And he was promptly pick-pocketed, losing a bit of Euros and our one credit card.
Bank of America promptly texted him a fraud alert, and then (of course) froze the card.
The problem with that? We both ignored the safe practice of carrying two different cards with us. (I know, i KNOW.)

Since we needed a card for the rest of the trip, we loaded another of our BoA credit cards on Google Wallet. What happened next was inanity and insanity. Sometimes the card worked, but most of the times it didn't. We'd call BoA and be given contradictory information from call to call, which sometimes worked, but most of the time didn't. At the end of almost each call we were "thanked" for our 43 years of loyalty to the Bank.

We finally figured out we had to get Euros, so had a relative wire us money. But this took us four days of mounting anguish.

We are back at home. There's no excusing our responsibility here, but we would like to find a better company to deal with. Suggestions?

Posted by
15723 posts

First lesson.....carry two separate credit cards issued by two different institutions.

Next, preload both cards into Google Wallet and test them at home. You can choose which card you want to be the primary card used. (I seem to have more problems using Google Pay in the USA than I do overseas.)

Make sure you notify your card issuers that you will be traveling.

I have credit cards issued by different banks. They all have pluses and minuses. I find the card I use issued by Barclay Bank USA gives the least problems.

Were the two Bank of America credit cards used under the same account? It's possible that when one card was blocked, the computers blocked the other one or put a watch on it.

Posted by
2765 posts

Your big problem is BofA They "thanked me" the same way. I have thanked them by moving all my funds to USAA. If you qualify it's great!

But I would recommend next time 2 cards from different issuers. I have had issues where a bank had an IT meltdown creating problems. I like the Capital One Venture. but there are TONS of options!

Posted by
960 posts

Frank, many CC companies no longer require and, in fact, no longer have a mechanism for reporting travel. My Visa and MC, two different banks, have not taken notifications since pre-covid days.

OP, so sorry. I have had long term good luck with an MC from Capital One including assistance when I “lost” my card in Asia. I had actually only misplaced it, but I contacted them with a loss. Chase was too slow to get me a replacement when my card was compromised in the US a few days before I traveled to Europe. I was told they could deliver a card to Germany, but somehow that didn’t happen and I didn’t follow up.

Things happen. It sounds like you’ve moved on - good!

Posted by
1990 posts

Discover has very good customer service but is not accepted in most places outside of the USA

I also have Chase, Citi, AmEx, and Barclay,s

They are all ok. I have had acceptable experiences with all of them

If you open a new CC, you will probably get a promotion so do your homework. Where are you going next and what airlines might you use.

Posted by
931 posts

We carry three separate credit cards all from separate institutions. Plus two ATM cards both on separate institutions. The only cards that require travel notices are the ATMs. Redundancy is the key IMHO.

Posted by
8656 posts

If you travel, or are planning to travel , at least 1 to 2 times a year, I suggest considering Chase Sapphire Reserve. Initial cost looks high ($550), but that is quickly offset by the number of perks and credits. $300 travel credit, priority pass lounge access, travel insurance, rental car insurance, $100 off Global entry application or renewal (can also be used for Nexus or precheck), earning points that can be converted to cash or travel. They have a large signup bonus worth about $800 in points.

I haven’t ever lost my card so I can’t say what their response would have been, but I have been pleased with customer service overall.

Posted by
386 posts

We travel with 3 cards. One is a Schwab card that we use as a debit card to withdraw euros (no fees, etc). We also take a Citi VISA, and I found them good to deal with the few times I have had to - most recently in Italy when my card was flagged for fraud while buying tickets on Trenitalia. This despite having used the card in Italy for 10 days to that point...they contacted me and we straightened it all out in a few hours, if I recall correctly, maybe a day at most. But luckily, we also carried an Amex card! Not quite as useful as they were back in the day, but it sure was handy to have in this situation.

Re: Citi VISA, I also like their app. And they notify ME when I travel, if I've used the card to book stuff. "Your upcoming travel has been noted..." followed by a message that a travel notice has been added to my account. Which kinda cracks me up if I've booked way ahead, sometimes I'm "Oh, where am I going?" lol

Posted by
2716 posts

You are pointing the finger at the bank. But if i read your post correctly you only had one cc. I assume the one you then tried to use was the same account? That will never work once the fraud alert/freeze has been placed. And you did not have a debit card with you? What was your backup plan if your cc was lost? Really, I don’t mean to pile on but B of A was the least of your problems.

Posted by
2925 posts

I’m sorry this happened to you. Sadly it was a lesson you learned too late.
I carry a BAC Premier Reward card as my primary credit card. My back up is a BAC Travel Reward card. BUT knowing that BAC controls access to both cards and to avoid bank problems, my back up to the back up is Fidelity credit card. Until a months ago it had foreign transaction fees. The fees are now eliminated so the Fidelity card is now back up #1. Fees would have been a small price to pay to not go through what you experienced.
Moral of the story, as others have stated and unfortunately you learned the hard way, is have a back up card from another financial institution.

The ATM card I carry is tied to a small “travel” Fidelity checking account, separate from my other Fidelity accounts.

Posted by
2403 posts

Great reminder of some of the basics: don’t put all your cards in one place. We always carry two credit cards and at least one debit card. They are never all in the same place. When in transit, we are pickpocket proof: money belts, deep storage, super alert, etc.

I also believe in taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel after a long flight. My brain is fried at that point and I’m more likely to let my guard down.

Posted by
14288 posts

Oh gosh, you learned some hard lessons there!

I am NOT sure if this will work while traveling BUT I recently had a fraudulent charge on my AMEX card. It was during the night and I called first thing the next AM. The guy cancelled that card and got a new card set up to mail. Here's the thing. He also said I could continue to use my AMEX card in my AppleWallet for in person purchases. I could not use it online but it would work in person. Then, my situation was different because I still had my card physically which you didn't have...and he said I could continue to use my cancelled number card IN PERSON until the new one came. By 530 that afternoon the number on my Applewallet card had magically changed to the new card number. I did NOT try to use my cancelled chipped card but perhaps I should have just to see if it worked.

Anyway, I realized in a pinch the AMEX in my Applewallet was still good and workable. I did use it at the coffee shop before I got the new physical card and got it authorized for use.

BTW, previously when I'd gotten a new card, I'd had to call to authorize it but this time I just put in the numbers (did not even have to take a picture of it) from the card and it was good to go.

I do NOT know if this is how other cards operate or not but this was my AMEX experience. And yes, he thanked me for being a member since 1974 (the exact moment when I started making $10,000 which was the lower threshold for application back then, lol). I could hear him kind of laughing so I'm pretty sure his Mom wasn't even born in 1974.

And for myself as a solo traveler....even with Applewallet, I carry 2 or 3 different credit cards (1 AMEX and 2 VISA from different companies) and 2 debit cards from different financial institutions (credit union and money market).

Glad your situation worked out and that you are back home. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by
7468 posts

Hi, sounds like you successfully worked through a messy issue!

I haven’t had to call customer service, but I’ve always brought Capitol One ATM & credit cards that I only use for travel, and my bank ATM & Chase credit card that I used for all reservations.

My Chase card was loaded on Apple Pay for this last trip, and I think over the entire month, my ATM cards were moved into my purse just three times to obtain cash. Otherwise, they stayed in the money belt because the Apple Pay was accepted. That lessened the chance that a pickpocket could grab my cards.

Posted by
7468 posts

Your post is a good reminder for couples who aren’t traveling together.

I was on a work trip, and my husband accidentally left his ATM card in the bank ATM. Well, when he immediately notified them, that froze his card AND my card. Luckily I only had one more day until I returned, or I would have had a huge issue.

Now when I travel solo, we place his duplicate credit card to the ones I’m taking into our bank safety deposit box, just so we know those won’t get frozen while I’m traveling.

Posted by
14580 posts

This last trip I found BofA the absolute worst, likewise on a previous trip in 2017. Their customer service guy did not simply know his business, plus the wait time for rep. was long, ie more that 20 mins.

I am telling the rep I am in a foreign country (France) and my immediate problem, and his reply pertains to information as if I were at the moment in the US., which at the moment amounts to "useless information." That BofA card was naturally "frozen", ie rendering it useless for the remainder of the trip. Of course, in such a contingency, I had brought 2 more credit cards , one of which was Capital One.

Capital proved to be the easiest to deal with and the most cooperative.

I bring now 3 credit cards, no BofA card, obviously, (lots of them out there), all 3 have a PIN, all have high limits, none charges transaction and annual fees, ie, the 2 absolute requirements.

Posted by
2925 posts

Jean, good reminder. When I travel, my hubby’s duplicate cards for the CCs and ATM cards I take when traveling are locked in the safe. He has a CC only he uses. I leave my ATM card for our primary checking account at home. I don’t want either of us to get locked out of cards or accounts. So far no problems during two solo trips but I think not having someone to watch my back makes me hyper conscious when dealing with money.

New travelers don’t think about this and the consequences. I had to explain it all to my SIL before our trip in 2019.

Posted by
14580 posts

"mounting anguish" ... It is indeed, one does not need to go through that and the aggravation during the trip.

Posted by
23473 posts

Glad you can the courage to post your experience as it will provide some real time advice to those who object to money belts, etc. Unfortunate it also illustrated how ill prepared financially you were. I surprised you didn't have at least a couple of cards and debit card or two.

You may be unhappy with BA's customer service but they were in a very difficult position to provide you with any assistance. Their service probably was about average. I think you could have asked them to overnight you a new credit card. We are almost exclusively with Chase and have had good service but nothing as serious as your problems. Customer service was not the problem. The biggest issue here, and you know it, is that you were not prepared.

Ed from Houston only had three lines in his response. Memorize the lines. That is all you need to know to be well prepared financially. I might add that we also have the PINs for all our credit cards so that in an emergency we can use the credit cards at an ATM to obtain cash IF for some reason our debit cards have failed. It is more expensive but if that is only source for cash.

Better luck on your next trip. You learned so much from this one.

Posted by
679 posts

Last year while traveling in Europe I lost physical control of my Chase credit card which was also loaded into my Apple wallet. In one brief phone call Chase cancelled that card and loaded an updated one into my Apple wallet for immediate use. It was a lesson in technology for me. Within two hours my now cancelled card was returned to me. I’m not touting Chase as a best card to travel with but rather I’m simply providing details of the remarkable customer service experience.

Posted by
2255 posts

Pam--That is really good to know about Amex and the Apple wallet and in person. Thank you!

We take our joint credit card, my credit card, and then individual debit cards. We have these last 2 accounts strictly for traveling so if one card is compromised we are still good. These are all with USAA.

Then we have our Amex Platinum, which more than pays for itself. We have never had an issue with any of these, knock on wood. Plus, neither of these have foreign transcation fees and I don't need to notify either institution before traveling anymore.

Posted by
14288 posts

"So far no problems during two solo trips but I think not having someone to watch my back makes me hyper conscious when dealing with money."

@Horsewoofie...yes, this is probably why I take so many cards with me and have most of them in my money belt or secured in a separate wallet in my purse with a coil tether. I started taking 3 CCs during Covid when you had to have a negative test to board the home-bound plane. I wanted the credit availability on all three cards in case I needed to spend a bunch of money to get back home. I started taking 2 debit cards years ago when my small credit union didn't do the procedure to allow me to access it in UK even though I'd gone in and done a travel notification in person. I haven't used the debit cards in 2 trips now as I have a small stash of GBP and Euro and have been using ApplePay for everything I can.

@Ramonelee - That is exactly how the AMEX card was updated in my ApplePay wallet. I had no idea it would work like that. Good to know Chase did the same as that is one of the cards I take with me.

@Watercolorwiz - yes I agree with Frank that your courage in posting should be applauded. This is a very interesting thread and I've learned some things. Thank you!

Posted by
28 posts

Ever read New York Times "Tripped Up" column by Seth Kugel? Here's an informative article where Chase Sapphire didn't work out so well, and an explanation for our recent interactions with our (soon to be former) bank:
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/14/travel/credit-card-refused-overseas.html.

Being open about our mistakes was the only honest way I could see about getting recommendations for banks with good customer service. (So far, no one has written BoA provided anything but poor service, which affirms our experience.) You provided them, and I appreciate it. We'll be looking at each of the cards recommended. And just a side note--we followed all the rules during our first trip abroad last year. Which made us feel worse just a week ago.

I'll be even more open about some of the remarks received, even though well-intended. We'd already gone through enough pain, so reminding us of our stupidity really wasn't helpful. I've read every post and tried to focus on the pertinent answer to my question, and will continue to do so.

Again, thank you.

Posted by
3265 posts

Watercolorwiz,

I've been traveling for decades and yet I will still, on occasion, make a rookie mistake. None of us remember everything all the time, so don't let the repudiators get you down!

As I travel solo, I do what Pam does (as usual). I have three credit cards: Capital One, Amex, and Chase. I've only needed Cap One for Customer service because it is the one I use most of the time at home. The customer service has been great and fast. I have two debit cards: 1. Cap One checking for my travel and general use 2. My bank's card for emergency back up.

I keep thinking I will attempt water colors and yet, still, I have not...

Posted by
180 posts

We had had Capitol One Venture One card as our travel card for many years. It has good rewards and excellent customer services the times we've had to interact with them.

Posted by
2925 posts

Watercolorwiz, You asked for feedback about BAC customer service. Since I have not had problems when traveling, my experience is not really relevant. But when I call or go into a branch I have had good service for what I need. Unfortunately bank branches are not set up for service like in the “old days.”

I have had very good service with Fidelity’s CC and brokerage services. The only problem I had with the CC was resolved quickly and compensation bonus points were added to my card. I am a retired stockbroker, not a banker, which I believe helps with communication, expectations and maybe service.

Posted by
14580 posts

As pointed out, the customer service at BofA I dealt with on this trip was completely unsatisfactory, irrelevant, if not worse. It did not occur to me at the moment on the phone to ask to talk with the rep's supervisor if that would have brought about something more positive.

Thanks to this incident and one from a pre-pandemic trip, I got off this credit card, terminated the account a few days ago. BofA provides no singular incentive to maintain the account.