With all the buzz about credit cards and sign up bonus people often don’t talk about the most basic things anymore which is how to actually use the cards overseas and that sometimes it’s necessary to tell your bank about upcoming travel plans.
I’ve had mixed results in using cards during my trips, some were credit cards while others were simple debit cards for both cash transactions at the ATM and in store or even online purchases in other countries overseas.
While having no real issues in traditionally low risk countries such as Western Europe, Japan, Korean and Australia I ran into trouble when attempting transactions in South East Asia and South America. Surprising enough some cards are very sensitive while others have approved about every attempted transaction over the years.
One of the banks that are very sensitive, especially with new accounts, is Chase. I’ve had transactions declined even though I did call the bank before and had travel notices placed on the account. Since then I haven’t had any further issues. American Express also blocked the SPG Amex for a brief period when trying to check in at a Vancouver, Canada property.
What makes it especially difficult is that when you need to contact your bank in situations like this it might be complicated and expensive (international calls) and doing such calls under time pressure when trying to check in at a hotel, make a purchase etc lets tension rise. It’s therefore recommended to give banks notice in advance.
I was surprised that Amex sent me an email this week when I booked an upcoming flight to Hong Kong with my Premier Rewards Gold Card:
The cards that have had the least rejections were the PayPal card tied to my regular paypal account, a debit card tied to a checking account I keep in Thailand with Standard Chartered as well as my Commerzbank Visa Premium issued in Germany. None of these earn any rewards though so I try and use those credit cards that actually earn me points for obvious reasons and make sure I keep my travel notices active, especially for high risk areas.