Credit Card Travel Notifications

by Michael on Sep 3, 2013 · 2 comments

Fraud Alert Sign on Keyboard

I’ve always heard that it’s a good idea to notify your credit card issuers when you’ll be traveling outside the United States.

If you don’t, the story goes, you run the risk of having your credit cards locked down as a fraud prevention measure. Not good.

Is it really necessary to notify credit card companies when you’re traveling overseas? I’m not sure, but losing access to your credit cards while on the road is a hassle, so I always do.

Most recently, I made a point of alerting all of our credit card issuers as to my travel plans when I called around looking for a chip-and-PIN credit card. And all but one gladly took the information.

The lone exception was American Express, who said that they would “automatically recognize” my travel, and that there was no need to let them know. But Chase, Citi, and Barclaycard all made a note of my travel plans.

In fact, all three recorded the dates of my travel as well as the countries that I’d be visiting. Interestingly, they also asked about whether other cards on the account would remain in use in the United States while I was away.

So yes, it seems like they take this information pretty seriously, though it’s hard to know for sure. I’ve never had a card locked down while on the road, but I’ve never tested the hypothesis by failing to notify them before I leave the country.

I would imagine that their fraud prevention algorithms are smart enough to learn your spending patterns. As such, I’d hope that frequent travelers wouldn’t have to make notification every time they leave the country.

As for me, I don’t travel overseas a whole lot, so this trip is definitely outside the norm. Hopefully, the phone calls that I made will prevent any credit-related hiccups while I’m on the road, but if they don’t…

It’s worth nothing that credit cards typically have an international phone number on the back. Thus, you can simply make a collect call if you run into problems while overseas.

1 Kurt @ Money Counselor September 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

We live in Canada, but have financial accounts and travel regularly in the US. So I’ve got two credit cards–one through a US issuer that I use while in the US, and one through our Canadian bank that I use while in Canada.

2 Dividend investing Martin September 11, 2013 at 12:55 am

hmm. I wonder how would Amex recognize it. Many times they block me when i even purchase from here and buying something abroad and I have to go thru a verification process. But I think it is not a bad thing to let them know, although you can still call them from abroad I guess.

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