Keep your credit cards and credit history safe
If your credit card doesn’t work, your international trip will get off to a bad start. If you lose your card and don’t know what to do, your trip and your credit rating could be in trouble.
Here are 6 rules to keep your card safe when you travel to another country.
- Contact your bank before you travel
Let your bank know where you are going. If they don’t know you are in another country they may suspect a transaction from that country to be fraud and decline it.
Confirm that your card will work in the destination country especially if you are traveling to an exotic location.
Confirm the number to call if your card is lost or stolen. The 1-800 will not work in most countries. Most banks allow you to call collect. Put the number in your phone contact list.
Ask them what their policy is on sending a replacement card when in another country.
Set up alerts so you can see when something expensive is purchased. If you get an alert for a purchase you did not make you can react immediately.
Make sure the bank has your mobile phone listed as one of the numbers to call in case they suspected a transaction is fraud.
- Get a PIN for your credit card
First make sure you have a credit card with an electronic chip. Then get a PIN number for the credit card. Many countries are switching from chip-and-signature to chip-and-PIN transactions. These transactions are similar to how you use your debit card.
- Take one card and a back-up
Take one credit card and a back-up in case you lose the main card. Clean out your wallet and leave behind anything you don’t need for the trip.
Keep the back-up separate from the other card.
- Make copies of your card
Make copies of the front and back of both cards. Also do this for all important documents (passport, visa, airline tickets, driver’s license, etc.).
- Keep things separate
Don’t keep everything together. Keep the copies of the cards separate from the cards. Don’t keep the copies in your wallet or handbag. You will need that information if you lose your wallet or purse.
If you stored digital copies of your credit cards on your phone or in the cloud make sure it is encrypted or password protected. That way if someone gets your smart phone they can’t access the information.
- Follow up once you are home
Check the charges made during your trip and keep checking for any new suspicious charges to make sure there is nothing fraudulent.
One more option
If you are traveling to a country with a lot of theft and identity fraud there is another option. Some banks, travel organizations and credit card companies offer chip-and-PIN prepaid currency cards. They are not linked to your bank or credit card accounts and, if lost or stolen, are easier to replace. And they are reloadable.
If your credit card goes missing while you’re traveling, contact your bank as soon as possible. The quicker you let them know the card is missing, the sooner they can cancel it and send you a new card.
Here is a list of phone numbers to call if your card is lost or stolen.
|Bank/Card||In the U.S.||From overseas|
|American Express||(800) 668-2639||(905) 474-0870|
|Bank of America||(800) 732-9194||(757) 677-4701|
|Capital One||(800) 427-9428||(804) 934-2001|
|Chase||(800) 432-3117||(302) 594-8200|
|Citibank||(800) 950-5114||(210) 677-0065*|
|Discover||(800) 347-2683||(801) 902-3100|
|MasterCard||(800) 627-8372||(636) 722-7111|
|Visa||(800) 847-2911||(303) 967-1096|
|Wells Fargo||* See below|
* Wells Fargo has a list of how to use their 1-800 number from different countries.
Stay safe and travel far