UK first trip-Credit Card mishap

We were half way during our 16 day UK trip, when we tried to make a purchase with our Visa/Capital One card. Denied. We called Capital One when we got back to the room and the person we talked to after 15 minutes on hold told us we were spending to much money and they put a "cap" on our spending. They reduced our limit in the middle of our vacation! Yeah-just like that! I spoke with them a month before we left and straightened the limits out, telling them to expect UK purchases etc. Well, thank goodness we had another card to fall back on to! I didn't bring that much cash, expecting to make credit card purchases instead. I didn't want the bother of exchanging several hundred dollars in cash.
Just letting you know-have a back up plan, another card at the ready or hundred dollar bills sewn into your underwear!

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Did they raise your limit after you talked to them? It's not clear whether you went over your overall limit and didn't realize it, or if they did something arbitrary. Could you clarify?

Posted by sherrell
sarasota, fl, usa
43 posts

We didn't go over our limit. I took care of everything before the trip. Their only explanation when we called then and now was-we were putting to many charges on the card. They lowered our limit by $3000. dollars-which I think is quite a lot. One thing I didn't check was we could have taken cash out instead, about $2000. dollars. So, just say'in-have a backup plan.You don't want to be stranded in another country without $$$. Also, we had a card at home for a member of the family for emergency purposes.
It was useless to them if anything happened.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

That's really weird - I've noticed that cc companies do everything in writing these days - I wonder if you received a snail mail letter or e-mail alert while on your trip re: the limit change. What a pain. I use their card exclusively on my travel overseas.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Sherrell you mean you didn't take an ATM debit card and just withdraw money as you go? Thats the way to do it really, can't imagine just relying solely on credit cards. I would also change who I bank and have my credit card with, unless you have some finicial instability I do not need to be privy to , there is no way I would accept a card company LOWERING my limit for such a lame reason. Do you have decent credit( i don't expect you to answer that on a public forum, I just mean to me its unthinkable they would lower limit,. my company keeps raising mine, lol )

Posted by sherrell
sarasota, fl, usa
43 posts

We had money but didn't want to use it all in the beginning of the trip. We had a debit card also, but had planned on using the visa. Have since not used that card and called and told them never will. Yes, we did get a snail mail letter stating they were lowering are limit, it was at home when we got back. I have talked to them till I'm blue in the face and talked to supervisors-I get nothing. They told me we were" putting to many charges on the card and we are lowering your limit".
Make sure you have a backup plan-another card or cash.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I knew there was a reason why I never felt good about Capital One and have trashed every marketing offer they've ever sent me.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Rose - for what it's worth, Cap One has saved me tons of money over 10+ international trips. I think what happened to the poster is a freak occurance, not the norm. At least we don't have enough data points to judge if it it the norm.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Exactly how much is "tons of money" and how were the savings made?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Sherrell next time you travel internationally it really does make sense to get your cash the way many if not most of us experienced travellers do,, by using our debit cards to withdraw cash. As you note you must have cash for some purchases at least.. and buying currency at home can be expensive, better to simply withdraw it abroad( perhaps bringing a small amount to start off trip with, I like about 100 euros /GBPs myself) Frankly the more I think about it, it really does not make sense that a CC company would lower your limit for using it "too much" unless they really felt you would not be able to pay it off.. CC companies like folks to ring up big bills and pay mins... that earns them tons of interest in long run .. lol Seriously I would never use that card company again,, that is so outrageous.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

OK, tons of money is an exaggeration (you got me, I fess up), but let's say I charge about 2k on each trip (I actually charge more than that since it includes airfare which is sometimes in a foreign currency - e.g. Turkish Air in lira - but I'm being conservative) and save $50 on foreign transaction fees on each trip (at 2.5%, which is an average foreign transaction fee). Over 10 trips, that's $500. It's not a ton of money but $500 can buy a lot of dinners and wine for this solo traveler. At least I'm recycling that money back to myself, not to a cc company. PS. CC companies look at your credit profile all the time and they can punish you (if you see it that way) based on your spending on your other cards too - if you get too close to your limit anywhere or your financial picture changes, they can adjust your limit on their card. Maybe that's what happened here - whatever the case, since they're floating you money every month, they can do whatever they want if they give you written notice per their contract.

Posted by sherrell
sarasota, fl, usa
43 posts

I guess that makes sense, we refi our mortgage a month before. Maybe that scared them. The refi was lower. Their bad decision cost them a customer. Cause we are definitely not a risk. Thanks

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2391 posts

A very strange situation indeed. I can't imagine a credit card company lowering a credit limit for customers in good standing and with a good credit score. They make their money off of your purchases (and interest for taking more than a month to pay it back). I also assume your refi had closed prior to your trip. No offense, but there must be more to the story than either you are willing to discuss or are aware of. If you haven't, you might want to check on your credit score to be sure there isn't something wrong... To address your main point, having backup plan - yes, people should ALWAYS have more than 1 resource for paying for things. If you have them, take two credit cards. Always bring your debit or ATM card and get cash the way most people do, use an ATM. Some people hold extra currency for emergencies and spend it at the end of their trip; a few take their own currency to exchange as an emergency backup. But relying on a cash reserve means limiting yourself to that amount - which typically only gets you a day or two (enough to resolve a problem, not spend for your entire trip).

Posted by Suzanne
Austin, Texas, USA
17 posts

I favor ATM/Debit Card withdrawals primarily, combined with less frequent CC usage, and I am sorry that you had trouble with the card you mentioned, as they have always done right by me. Plus: they charge much lower fees for 'conversion' from Euros or GBPs into USD, on your billing.....
A further word about ATM/Debit: Credit Union membership yields ATM/Debit with lower fees for withdrawal of funds. This can save significant $$$. It's important, though, to have a talk w/the (particularly smaller) credit union, to explain if there are to be multiple kinds of currency transactions, i.e. a variety of non-Euro country currency, Euros, GBPs,etc. A friend's teacher credit union (small) froze her ATM, due to being non-conversant with a non-EU country's currency name. Just have a small chat with the Credit Union's Mgr. to apprise them in advance: they will enter notes on your account prior to your departure....They really do want to do right by you; just inform them.....

Posted by Don
Edmonds, WA, USA
8 posts

FWIW, when calling ahead to notify CC companies of the trip, I asked about foreign exchange fees. Most were around 3% but I found one that was ZERO! Saved lots of $$$!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Suzanne you do see the irony,, a teachers credit union not being able to recognize various world currencies.. so sad.

Posted by mike
shingle springs, CA, USA
72 posts

I travel six weeks a year in Europe and carry Capital One which I use as much as possible and backed up by a debit card,Capital One has no transaction fees and two for one on points and we are running charges in five figures,their fraud department is top notch,we had a problem in Salzburg and had a new card in St Wolfgang in two days. Sorry to hear that you had so many problems. Mike
Ca Foothills

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

"One thing I didn't check was we could have taken cash out instead, about $2000. dollars." By taking cash out, do you mean getting a cash advance from your credit card at an ATM? It's good you didn't do that! Capital One charges a very high interest rate on cash advances. I have a Capital One Visa which I've had for 12 years and have been very happy with, and they charge about 25% interest on a cash advance. Credit card companies make most of their money by charging interest on late or partial payments. It's in their best interest to have customers who habitually make late payments and rack up lots of debt. If you are a "good" customer who pays in full every time, the company may consider cutting off your account because you aren't making much if any money for them.

Posted by sherrell
sarasota, fl, usa
43 posts

Just to end this thread~ I will never just rely on one credit card again for trips. Have several on hand.
Also more cash~in local currencies. What a pain to have to find a place to exchange US to ..... Would rather spend my vacation time having FUN then looking for a place to exchange money. Everyone~lessons learned~things go wrong even with the best planning. Thanks all.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Hi, No, you do not rely on just one credit card on a trip, whether for 3 weeks or 3 months. I bring at least three along, one reason as back up, and inform the credit card companies prior of the dates overseas and in which countries. I could care less if that makes them happy. Any spur of the moment travel into another country I use cash, pay in Euro, even if that country is not on the Euro, say Poland or Hungary. On one of the recent trips I went across into Poland, the other side of K├╝strin an der Oder, had lunch, thought I could pay with my US credit card. The young waiter told me that only EuroCard was accepted or Euro, or in Polish currency, makes sense with the EuroCard since they get a lot of Germans going there. Since I had a zloty bill that covered the amount, I used that instead. If not, he would have gotten Euro from me, regardless of the exchange rate.