Day 124 – Loss of credit card and what to do guide

2009/01/07 § Leave a comment


On a totally different note:

I have somehow managed to lose my Credit Card. I noticed with a delay of some days and am now anxiously waiting to see if someone has been able to use it. Fortunately I have a card of another bank. So what to do in a case like that? The obvious first choice is to block your card immediately. For this reason I have prepared the numbers and contact information in order to do so previous to my trip. I would recommend anyone to take care of these things before you leave as you want to have these things handy in an emergency. My tip is to upload these numbers and infos to a place on the Internet. A good place I think is Google docs, especially if you have a Gmail account anyway (there you can also upload pics or PDFs of your Passport, vaccinations pass, flight tickets etc).

In case someone has abused your card you can try to claim the money back from your bank. Keep all the necessary info, like bank addresses handy too for this possibility. You should always inform yourself in advance what to do in case of a faulty booking anyway.

The simple reason being that for instance it happened to me that City Bank in Sao Paulo booked too much off my account for a cash withdrawal I performed at one of their ATMs. So I after that had to avoid City Bank in all future and claim my money back. I wonder in the first place how that can happen except it being fraught. Similar wrong bookings happened to other people when they used their credit card at stores (in these cases most likely a case of clear fraught though).

These things are among the less pleasant events when you travel but they are prone to happen if you travel long enough. Being prepared takes some of the distress off you though.

I advice therefore also to have a second credit card. Maybe even a totally separate account. In that case the abuse someone can carry out with your card limited by the amount of cash you have on the account. I am assuming you have implemented daily and/or general spending limits, which I also strongly advice to do. In the end you are not going to buy a car while you are on the road, so a daily limit is a feasible and sensitive protection.

A second set of cards is advisable also because for instance traveller´s cheques are not that common anymore and occasionally not accepted even at major banks, while you find ATMs in most large cities in almost any country, certainly in south America.

In emergency situations most credit card institutes will issue you a emergency card with 48 hours or less delivery to your hotel. However, these cards can be used only as credit cards and come without PIN-code, hence without easy access to money, even though you may get some type of cash advance in some places, in my experience the fee can be a hefty 10% or more though! So again, a second card is the card-loss-antidote of choice in my mind. And because you should never underestimate neither bad luck nor your own stupidity, I brought a third card.

Needless to say, to be safe keep them in different locations at all time. When moving around only take it with you if you need to. And keep one in a money belt while you have another card in a wallet or another place close to your body.

As I had to learn now, my bank only sends a new card to the address at home which you gave them. If you really need to get the substitute card with a PIN it can therefore be useful to have someone at home who then will forward it to you wherever you are. But beware that poste restante (a way of keeping mail for you at a specified post office) is not save in all countries as in places like India for instance cases are known where staff opens mail. In that case money and/or cards may disappear.

Stay safe!

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