Please sign in to post.

Nobody wants my money, and I've got no credit cards. A Pre-Trip Report.

Thought I'd share my last couple of weeks in case it's useful to anyone else. Perhaps a few more items for your pre-trip checklist.

I pride myself on being a detail oriented guy but the Travel Gods are having a great time messing with me right now. Monday last week, I tried to use my credit card and it wouldn't work. The chip crapped out just 14 days before I leave for Scotland. I was immediately able to order a new one via my banking app but it takes up to 10 business days to arrive via Canada Post-a postal service not well known for fine and effective customer services. As of this afternoon, still no card. No problem though, I have two secondary cards that I only use in emergencies. But guess what? I tried to buy gas on the weekend and neither worked. It turns out my 1st secondary card expired last year and I was never sent a new one. I didn't know this until this morning, but I need to use my cards every 60 days or they go dormant. After 1 year it is automatically cancelled with no notice. I never thought of this because it was still showing up on my banking app as an account-no fine print saying dead, dormant, no longer working.... My 2nd secondary card is an AmEx that I haven't used since 2017, but they still sent me a new one 2 years ago. Same thing though, it no longer works. Neither card can be renewed and I have to reapply which takes 2-3 weeks. But, the good news....my wife's cards work so she has to pay for everything.

The Travel Gods aren't done yet though. I've got a post going under the Scotland heading, but thought I'd share here as well. I have a bunch of British cash left over from a trip in 2018. I didn't turn it in because we were going back in 2020-which of course, didn't happen. I was warned on the weekend via a Facebook post on the Scottish Travel Society page that the transfer of British bank notes from paper to plastic is complete and I have until September 30th before it will no longer be accepted in circulation. However the post warns that many establishments are no longer accepting those notes effective immediately. I have a couple of B and B's that are cash-only and when I emailed to ask if they would accept, I was told they won't take it either.

So off to my bank I went this morning to either exchange it for the new plastic notes or turn it in and use an ATM in Scotland for my cash needs. Turns out my bank has no interest in them. Next, I tried Calforex but they want nothing to do with the paper notes either. So Plan C, take the money and try and use it up in whatever establishment will still take it.

I'll be in England in the Fall, but not in London so heading to the Bank of England to turn it in is not an option yet.

So, new items on my travel checklist:

  • check the dates on my credit cards 4-6 weeks before travel.
  • Use all of my credit cards 4-6 weeks before I leave so they don't go dormant while I'm away.
  • Avoid future pandemics to prevent cash from expiring before I can use it.
Posted by
1955 posts

Jeez.......with this run of bad luck, you are definitely ready for some GOOD luck. So, maybe you will get a nice complimentary upgrade to First or Business Class (if you are not already flying that way)....and, even better, no testing positive going or coming.

But, be sure to try on your travel clothes (just to make sure your zippers still work and they fit).....you cannot borrow your wife's :) :) :)

It's been so long since we have traveled, I would need to make sure the wheels on our rollaboards have not dry rotted...LOL.

Posted by
1665 posts

Oh Allan, what a mess for you. I appreciate the reminder to all of us. Check not just your credit cards but also your ATM card for the unused travel account.

I am getting 2 new credit cards (back-up and different bank back-up-to-the-back-up). From your post I realize I need to order them a few weeks earlier than I planned. I was waiting as long as possible so I can get all my bonus points within the 3-month window. But don’t want them to arrive late or get lost in the mail. The travel gawds often have a wicked sense of humor.

Posted by
6950 posts

We're leaving tomorrow for London. I carry two ATM cards and two credit cards--backups.

Went by the credit union this morning to give them the name of the countries and dates of our trip. They otherwise block transactions. And I used their ATM card to make sure it'd work. I only load that checking account whenever we're traveling. Otherwise, I stash money in a savings account there as our Travel Kitty.

Fortunately, we're flying for about half the normal price for airfares. And we're going on a very inexpensive cruise.

I wish I could say the hotels we're staying in are reasonably priced. Decent London rooms are $250 a night and the really nice places are $350 a night. And then they pile taxes on top of that. The airport hotels are actually fairly priced, however.

At least the budget European airlines are very inexpensive to get from country to country.

Posted by
6778 posts

Allan this kind of scenario is what comes to mind whenever somebody talks about cashless travel.

Regarding old currency, my bank would not take some currency I had that was beyond 10 years old even though the actual notes had not changed. That is, the current bills looked just like the older ones.

Posted by
1787 posts

Yes, I learned the hard way that you couldn't keep a credit card and not use it. I finally set up one of my recurring bills to charge to it each month just so I wouldn't forget to use it.

Posted by
2534 posts

Just like Janet, our main travel Credit Card gets charged our cell phone Bill every month. This way it never expires and is ready when we travel. We also carry a back-up Credit Card and our debit Card for extreme emergencies. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the Canadian posts surprises you with their efficiency.

Posted by
1908 posts

Well. I learned something new. And since I don’t have a second person with me, I would rather learn from your mistakes than my own. Lol!

Posted by
726 posts

I was just checking all my credit card info this evening for my trip leaving this Saturday for the UK. I am glad you posted this information. Good to know that some cards will end up dormant or canceled if not used. I usually keep two CC going at all times my AA Citi and Delta Amex - for point purposes I charge just about everything. I just dusted off my chase Visa for backup and then read your post. Thanks for the warning. I have not used my Chase card in quite a while.

Posted by
4585 posts

Allan, so many of us having the same issues from being out of our normal travel routine! I only use my Capitol One for travel, so I checked it a month ago. Yes, it went inactive, but I was able to immediately bring it back to life on-line. That’s convenient that your wife’s cards work! ; )

Add this one to your list if you don’t already have it completed:
Send a photo of the passport & CDC card to family & iCloud.

Posted by
1115 posts

This has prompted me to scurry off and check all my card's dates and status, even though I'm not traveling for 3+ months....sort of like that passport thread awhile back had us all checking and re-checking passport expirations dates.

Posted by
5648 posts

So, it’s not “Paper or Plastic,” it’s “current plastic cash, or active plastic credit cards”!

At least in Britain, it’s a form of plastic either way. I hope the Post Office comes through with your new replacement card AND that you’re able to spend your “outdated” cash before it becomes obsolete.

It’s at least not like you’re trying to get somebody to take rubles. Best of luck, and gave a great trip. Have some haggis, if you can buy it.

Posted by
7689 posts

Hmmmm I have at least one card and probably two that may well fall into this category.

May you run into better luck from here on out Allan !

Dave, happy travels tomorrow.

Posted by
5488 posts

Do you know someone who will be going to London? Perhaps they could exchange your bills for you.

Posted by
88 posts

Allan, thank you for the cc warning. I have one I was only going to use for online purchases, but haven’t used it in years (I don’t get Westjet dollars for future flights). I will use it tomorrow and see what happens. I have 3 months to get a new card sorted out before I leave for England.

Thank you as well for bringing all of this to our attention. Sorry the Travel Gods have you in their sights. Also sorry the Calgary Flames are going down in …flames tonight🤣😂😆. Go Oilers go!!

Posted by
8491 posts

Wow. Good luck Allan. I hope you find a place for the cash and that the new card arrives.

Those old notes! In Burgundy, my SIL found 3,000 francs in her father's sweater pocket, one week before the Banque de France deadline for exchanging the notes. Luckily, a friend was driving via Paris and went into central Paris to the Banque to exchange the francs for Euros. We hate to see cash go poof, but the banks don't make it easy for us.

Posted by
12965 posts

As my next trip, if it comes off at all will be only in France, maybe in Germany, just iffy, I have my Visa and MC cards available plus the Euro cash earmarked for these two places. I know Pension in Berlin will only accept cash, which has been set aside.

Posted by
932 posts

In the States, you could apply for and receive an Apple Card almost instantly with a $2500 limit. It will show up in your iPhone wallet app minutes after approval. The physical card, largely unnecessary, will arrive in a few days via express post. You can ask to have it expedited. I have zero clue if Canada works similarly, sorry.

Posted by
3713 posts

Thank you so much for bringing this up.

I haven't used the credit union Debit/ATM card I normally use to get cash in Europe in a looooong time. The date is good, but it's time to test it!

Posted by
103 posts

Sorry you are having such headaches, but this was certainly a useful thread for the rest of us. Thanks for bringing the issue to our attention. Best of luck with your card and travels!

Posted by
1882 posts

So you have prompted me to check my stash of foreign currency; and
I have a large amount of UK coins, but only two paper bills, a five and a ten.
I looked online about both, and it seems the coins are fine to use till whenever, and the bills until September 22nd, as said here.
I’ve got friends going to the UK next week, so I hopefully can exchange them with them, as
I’m not going to the UK myself any time soon.
Money for new garden plants for me!
Alan, you’ll just have to do lots of shopping when you are there.....or drinks in pubs?!

Posted by
13704 posts

1a S J, I checked my foreign cash by your example and I found a 50 pound note!! and some smaller.
2a I did some google work and found a relief agency in London, it goes in the mail tomorrow along with all the Euros and Hryvnia I found in the box; added up to about $400; maybe they can do something with it.

3a I once tried to pass an old 2000 forint note in Budapest.
4a The shop wouldn't take it, but said no worry, any bank will change it so I went to the nearest bank, showed it to a clerk and he gave me this "you aren't serious look".
5a Then he took me to a desk, pulled out all the paperwork, copied my passport and after 4 signatures on maybe 3 forms I couldn't read, followed by at least a half dozen official looking rubber stamps in a mere 30 minutes I had my new bill worth about 6 dollars.
6a Thanks for the tips everyone.

Posted by
120 posts

Allan, when I've needed a credit card replaced ASAP, I've had good luck calling the credit card company directly and explaining the urgency of needing to have a new card in my possession ASAP. Doing this, I've been able to have them send it priority through the mail versus regular snail mail. I would usually receive it in 2-3 days.

As for your British cash story, I have one of my own. Several years ago, I went to Poland and stayed at an apartment I booked through VRBO. My sister had some left over zloty in her possession from a prior trip to Poland that she gave me. When the owner's father met us at the apartment, he wanted to be paid in cash. I proceeded to pay him with the zloty that my sister had given me. He laughed in my face and stated that the currency I was trying to pay him with was old currency that had been out of circulation for years and was basically worthless. He accompanied us to the ATM, so I could withdraw the proper currency to pay him. I'll never forget that story!

Posted by
1908 posts

Terri, your story reminds me of my recent faux pas in Dubai ….. I remembered to grab my leftover cash from a previous overnight in Dubai as I left. I was there over a week and hadn’t used any cash yet but was buying a Bosnian steak sandwich at Global Village and thought it was a good chance to get rid of it. I provided a good laugh (and my credit card) when I handed him Thai bhat…..

bogiesan, learned another new thing. I am tucking away the almost instantaneous Apple Card away in my brain.

And I checked my leftover pounds a couple of months ago and was disappointed to see it was all just coins. I guess now I am relieved instead. Lol!

Posted by
2400 posts

I've been doing some reading on credit cards and what happens when you don't use them. It appears there is no consistent rules from card to card or bank to bank of when they go dormant, but it is common for it to happen. The advice I took from the articles is a suggestion to use your secondary card every 2 to 3 months, or even set it up as a preauthorized monthly payment for something like your cell phone or Netflix. That way it gets used automatically without having to think about it-just don't forget you did it and to pay it off every month. https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit-cards/inactive-credit-card-account-closed/

It's also recommended to use all of your cards to keep your credit score up to date. The more info a credit bureau has about you, the easier it is to figure out if you're trustworthy for a loan.

Posted by
12965 posts

The experience I have had with credit cards (BofA and Capital one) not used for some time, such as over a period of a few years, is that I receive a letter telling of this inactivity which would lead to the termination of these cards. All very accurate as there is one main credit credit I constantly use, a couple of them are dormant.

You have at least 30 days to put a charge on the card to show activity, otherwise the card would be terminated. I ignored the letter, left the cards dormant, and another letter was received indicating this continued inactivity on my part. The cards ended up
terminated just as they had written.

Posted by
2400 posts

The cards ended up terminated just as they had written.

My bank told me that it sends written notification if major changes are made to my account, but termination of an account isn't considered a major change, thus no notification. Articles I was reading up on it confirm that banks are not required to provide written notification when an account is terminated.

Posted by
12965 posts

True, the definition of "major changes" is linked to possible fraud, say, if suddenly a couple thousand or so appears on your account, ie, something not usually associated with your regular spending habits, warrants a red flag, etc. You're notified for "just in case" scenario.

Regarding inactivity I am been notified by mail referring to that on a credit card telling me make a charge in the next 30 days or so, can't recall the exact time limit, otherwise the card, ie the account will be closed. Maybe not "required" technically, but I've always been informed first by mail. This is with Bank of America and Capital One. With both these particular 2 cards, I let them be closed.

Posted by
2400 posts

The examples I was given by my bank of major changes were things like new fees or interest rate hike, not fraud alerts.

Posted by
35 posts

What a pain for you! At least your wife has a working card. Otherwise I was going to suggest to borrow a family members card (with their permission, of course) and pay them back when you get home. Only, of course, if that's legal. I have found that nobody wants Amex, just Visa and Mastercard, and they all seem to want you to tap it and nobody checks your identification when you use it. If your wife has two cards, I think I'd swipe one of them and use that.

But great heads up, I'll bet most people wouldn't even think about checking those cards.

Posted by
2400 posts

My credit card showed up last night and it works, so one problem solved. The cash problem won't affect the trip as I can always use an ATM for cash only locations if my paper money isn't accepted.

Posted by
12965 posts

Banks always send you notification of new fees to be implemented or that sort of policy change and how the new changes could affect your account.

Posted by
7689 posts

So glad you got your card, Allan! Enjoy your last evening, and happy travels tomorrow !