Avoid holiday hell: Prepare before taking credit cards abroad

07 August 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Many a holidaymaker has watched in horror as their debit or credit card is swallowed or returned unauthorised by a cash machine abroad, having been blocked by the issuer, but this could be avoided if they tell their bank they are going away before setting off.

If a debit or credit card is suddenly used abroad, it is not uncommon for the bank to assume that this is an instance of credit card fraud – someone using the cardholder's details illegally – rather than the cardholder themselves.

Debit and credit card holders can avoid the hassle and embarrassment of not having access to their cash when in a foreign country by informing their bank that they intend to travel.

Industry experts recommend that travellers take more than one card from different providers with them, and that they take along an emergency number in case the card is blocked while they are away.

Banks and credit card companies suggest that their customers telephone or write to them before they travel so that they are aware that the card will be used abroad. Some, such as Barclays, have a function on their website whereby customers can quickly enter their travel dates in advance.

Card companies lost £208million in fraud abroad last year, so they are eager to encourage their customers to tell them when they are going to be using their card abroad, so they can assess more accurately when an account has been hacked and when someone's simply gone on holiday.

Banks provide a 24 hour helpline, so customers who have been affected can get in touch. This can lead to the bank wiring them money until their card is unblocked, or in the case of ATMs swallowing cards an emergency replacement can be sent, often within 24 hours.

Some people heading abroad this summer will opt for a prepaid credit card, that will never be blocked unless the user reports it as lost or stolen, and can help them to budget holiday spending too.

Experts also urge those going abroad to compare credit cards and make sure they are not paying for foreign transaction and currency exchange fees unnecessarily.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd