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    • MSE Guy
    • By MSE Guy 24th Jul 09, 6:17 PM
    • 1,628Posts
    • 1,255Thanks
    MSE Guy
    0 WOW
    MSE news: Going abroad? Avoid the blocked card holiday nightmare
    • #1
    • 24th Jul 09, 6:17 PM
    0 WOW
    MSE news: Going abroad? Avoid the blocked card holiday nightmare 24th Jul 09 at 6:17 PM
    This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

    "If you’re going abroad soon ensure you take steps so you're not left stranded if your credit or debit card is declined.

    This often means telling your bank or card company you are going away to prevent your card getting stopped ..."

Page 1
  • Bob the Saver
    • #2
    • 25th Jul 09, 9:44 PM
    • #2
    • 25th Jul 09, 9:44 PM
    Last winter in Goa everyone's cards seemed to be blocked even when they had informed their banks. People kept calling their banks who said there was no problem but they couldn't get cash. One provider's customers in particular were telling me they were having problems (can't remember which but they have branches Nationwide!).
    One guy had repeated problems (he'd informed them before he went) told them he was going to ask the British Embassy for an emergency loan to get back to UK as he couldn't get any cash, then he was going around to his Solicitor to sue them before he went back to finish his holiday. The strange thing is that the card, on his account (£1000's in credit) started to work again about 5 mins later - strange that.
    A prepaid card you can top-up via the internet (I use Fairfx) is a useful back-up
    when they b****r you about.
  • nico26
    • #3
    • 26th Jul 09, 6:10 AM
    • #3
    • 26th Jul 09, 6:10 AM
    My advice is go for cash during the morning because if the machines dont work you can get your passport and go into the bank and they will give you money.

    Please dont rely on machines and for paying at restraunts with your card. Always have back up money on you.

    I know its not always handy but getting stuck in a restraunt and not being able to pay is no fun either.

    Singapore is bad for this as well.My hubby got stranded there as his flight got cancelled and couldnt get any money at all and the banks were closed.

    From then on in I make sure we both have back up money on us.
    • pboae
    • By pboae 26th Jul 09, 8:02 PM
    • 2,674 Posts
    • 3,407 Thanks
    • #4
    • 26th Jul 09, 8:02 PM
    • #4
    • 26th Jul 09, 8:02 PM
    I'm with the Co-Op and this causes me *so* much hassle. I ring them before I go away, give them the exact details of the holiday, which cards I will be taking, then phone back another day and double check they really have made a note and got the details right. Yet still they block our cards as soon as we get there, every single time.

    Then the only way to get it sorted is to phone them, and sometimes they can unblock it straight away, sometimes it takes days, and other times you have to ring back during office hours and speak to the fraud department, it's a nightmare.

    We went to Japan this year, and they blocked them from Day 1, after a lot of calls and hassle we got them unblocked, 12 hours later they were blocked again. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Japan, and making International calls from phone boxes is complicated (getting the right sort of pre paid card and the right sort of phone, and then finding one at the right time of day to catch UK office hours, then being kept on hold till your credit runs out, etc etc). So we were really stuck. We ended up running up over £30 of mobile phone bills in the end because we had completely run out of money.

    I spoke to them when we got home and they were useless, and just said it's automated and gets referred to the fraud department, but that doesn't explain why it took more calls and a week long wait for the fraud department to do something about it.

    On other occasions they have blocked them and then the fraud dept have phoned me at home. Obviously I'm not going to be there if I am on holiday, they have my mobile number, and the holiday details on my account, but they just don't seem to bother using the info.

    I've been with the Co-op for years and I am really happy with them otherwise, but if they can't sort this out I am seriously considering changing banks. It just stresses me out so much.
    When I had my loft converted back into a loft, the neighbours came around and scoffed, and called me retro.
  • roosterza
    • #5
    • 28th Jul 09, 11:14 PM
    HSBC's left hand doesn't know what it's right hand is doing!
    • #5
    • 28th Jul 09, 11:14 PM
    I always ring HSBC before travelling, to advise them of my departure and return dates, and as far as possible, try and tell them which cards I'll be using. On one occasion, I told them the date and time that I would be using my credit card abroad, to pick up my hire car.

    Unfortunately, after that call, they hadn't made the note on my account that they promised they would, so they still blocked it.

    I then had to ring them from abroad, and they released the card, but I demanded compensation for the call, and they conceded and offered me £10.
    However, after 3 weeks I had to chase this, as they hadn't made a note of that either.

    My advice is remember who you spoke to and on which dates, and if they mess it up, seek compensation for your time and phone calls (and keep a note of those conversations!).

    Increasingly, banks are proving their lack of competence, and I've worked too hard for my money to let someone else muck about with it.
    • charlieboycat
    • By charlieboycat 29th Jul 09, 7:45 AM
    • 368 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    • #6
    • 29th Jul 09, 7:45 AM
    • #6
    • 29th Jul 09, 7:45 AM
    Anyone any recent experience (good or bad) of using Egg Money abroad?
    • SES
    • By SES 29th Jul 09, 8:46 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    • #7
    • 29th Jul 09, 8:46 AM
    • #7
    • 29th Jul 09, 8:46 AM
    I had a problem with Nationwide when visiting Vancouver who, after the original cash withdrawal, would not let me withdraw money. I rang them several times and they kept on saying there was no problem - except there was! I was able to use my debit card to pay for items in shops but not withdraw money. Eventually a kindly bank manager allowed me to withdraw money as I had my passport and didn't charge me the Visa charge (Canadians are very kind). I contacted Nationwide on my return and they were still unable to explain why I had a problem.
  • Forester
    • #8
    • 29th Jul 09, 9:14 AM
    HSBC blocked mine in Nepal after being informed
    • #8
    • 29th Jul 09, 9:14 AM
    I was able to access my online account and transfer funds to a friends account to get by. and also had cash. HSBC refused to communicate online, and insisted on my phoning them at my cost, from a country without easy private and secure phones, e.g skype. I refused to do this as didn't want to broadcast my details in the middle of an internet cafe.

    On return I was given £50 compensation on complaining. Unfortunately these banks havent a clue how hard it can be to communicate from such countries, which makes their process impossible to follow. I'll take a backup, cash loaded card in future and do not recommend using HSBC and I suspect the other big banks are the
    • Voyager2002
    • By Voyager2002 29th Jul 09, 9:29 AM
    • 13,396 Posts
    • 9,223 Thanks
    • #9
    • 29th Jul 09, 9:29 AM
    • #9
    • 29th Jul 09, 9:29 AM
    I have used Nationwide since 2001 and have almost never had any problems. Usually I don't bother to tell them about my travel plans. Countries where I have withdrawn cash include Ghana; Turkey; USA; Vietnam; India; China; Benin. However, my card did fail to work once in Vienna (Austria).

    Recently I was unable to withdraw cash in Benin. I sent them a secure message and they said that my card had not been blocked, and perhaps there was a problem with the machine. The following day the same machine gave me money.
    • Voyager2002
    • By Voyager2002 29th Jul 09, 9:30 AM
    • 13,396 Posts
    • 9,223 Thanks
    I have used Nationwide since 2001 and have almost never had any problems. Usually I don't bother to tell them about my travel plans. Countries where I have withdrawn cash include Ghana; Turkey; USA; Vietnam; India; China; Benin. However, my card did fail to work once in Vienna (Austria).

    Recently I was unable to withdraw cash in Benin. I sent them a secure message and they said that my card had not been blocked, and perhaps there was a problem with the machine. The following day the same machine gave me money.
  • patrick0
    I had my card blocked by LTSB when in Thailand. This was a real issue for me as it meant being stuck with no money.

    I spent a fortune calling their customer services centre who didn't have a clue. After about 10 calls I was eventually transferred to a department who were able to remove the block instantly.

    I've had the same problem with a Santander credit card (ie. customer services were clueless).

    It would be wonderful if MSE could compile a list of the phone number for each bank for getting cards unblocked. Calling banks when overseas on mobile roaming rates is an expensive business.
  • wingnut143
    Chip and Pin in the USA
    I know this is going off topic slightly but I wanted to let people know about this - apologies if there's a similar thread somewhere else. My partner and I had a holiday in Florida in May this year. I bank with Cahoot and told them I was going to be away and they made a note of it. However, in quite a few shops the card kept being refused. However, I think this was due to the chip and pin, rather than the bank refusing the card. Very early on in the trip a kind lady in one shop tried several different ways to get her till to accept the card, and managed to get round it. So in every other shop where the card was getting refused, we were passing this info onto the shop assistant and were getting some very blank looks, as if to say "this sounds dodgy, and I'm not going to try it!". This became a real pain as my partner's debit card was getting refused in every shop/restaurant and we don't have a credit card. I contacted my bank while I was away and they told me to stop using it as a debit card and withdraw money - which I was annoyed about as I would be charged more for this. Luckily we had more than enough cash to cover most of what we wanted to do. A good job, obviously!!
    • Vampgirl
    • By Vampgirl 29th Jul 09, 12:04 PM
    • 599 Posts
    • 432 Thanks
    Interesting article but I wonder how accurate any data like this is (or ever can be)? We have never called card issuers before going abroad and have never had a card stopped whilst we were away. This is using cards from Lloyds & NatWest credit and debit, and also Halifax & Egg credit. I have even used the same card on 3 continents on one day (Egypt, Netherlands & US) without any problems.

    The only time we had a card stopped was when we booked flights on (UK origin transaction) and then a cruise from a US travel agent (US origin transaction) within the space of a hour or so and that was quickly sorted by a call. Maybe we've just been lucky or maybe spending abroad is considered part of our "normal" spending pattern so it doesn't raise any flags :confused:

    One thing I have noticed though (especially in Egypt) is that if your card doesn't work first time, its always worth trying again a couple of minutes later as the "decline" is often due to the local merchant equipment not making contact with the issuing network properly. If you try again and get a better quality line then it often goes through no problems.
    • brewerdave
    • By brewerdave 29th Jul 09, 12:06 PM
    • 5,763 Posts
    • 2,586 Thanks
    I have a GM Visa card issued by HFC (Which as far as I'm aware) is part of HSBC - I have always phoned them before going on holiday but on the last couple of occasions in Turkey and Madeira the card has been blocked; on the other hand my Natwest Mastercard has never been stopped. In fact, when I phoned Natwest they told me the travel information was not required!!
    Interesting about shops etc not wanting to get authorisations by phone.Recently hired a car in the UK from Enterprise - my Visa card was "declined" - when I queried with agent she told me it was Company policy not to phone for authorisation.I wonder how many people have problems with car hire agencies?
    Last edited by brewerdave; 29-07-2009 at 12:14 PM. Reason: extra thought
    • colddrake
    • By colddrake 29th Jul 09, 12:19 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    You don't have to travel to have this problem.
    You don't have to travel to have this problem. When I registered for a conference in the US, Mastercard (John Lewis Partnership card) refused the transaction. When I rang in a panic to find out why (places were limited and I'd been waiting 6 months for the chance to go), a patronising man told me that they'd just protected me from a fraud, the internet was a dangerous place and I shouldn't buy things from unfamiliar overseas websites. Imbecile. Barclaycard were perfectly happy with the transaction. Mastercard has also refused Paypal transactions on the grounds that these are probably fraudulent, even though my account history is peppered with them. They do this in a particularly stupid fashion. Like Amazon, Paypal puts through an initial tiny charge to verify the account is live, followed by the rest of the amount. Apparently when Mastercard sees the initial Paypal charge, it automatically(!) refuses the next transaction. Which in my case by sheer chance was me shopping at Waitrose, not Paypal.
  • bobcoates
    Forget abroad, mine get blocked when at home!
    I've lost count how many times I've had cards blocked or nearly blocked. But it's always been when at home, never abroad... yet!
    My latest was yesterday. LTSB. Spent the massive sum of *** 61 pence *** which obviously had all the alarm bells ringing at LTSB.
    I'd booked a hotel in the Lake District and used my card as guarantee. The hotel took 61p as a test payment.
    Only found out this morning when I used the card again. Declined!

    What's more, LTSB won't talk to me over the phone because "I haven't set up a password for my card". Apparantly I should have given them a password when I applied for the card.
    Well I've had the card for over 30 years. There was no such concept as passwords on cards in the 1970's when I applied.
    I now have to report to the local branch with photo ID to get it all sorted. More likely cut the card up and forget it.

    The time before was a month ago when I booked an internal flight in India on the web (different card). I suppose that's a bit more understandable.
    Time before that, bought a carpet at a shop 2 miles from home for £150. Next time I used the card, declined! "Unusual spending pattern". True. Carpets aren't an everyday purchase for me.

    And I've lost count of the number of calls from card issuers' fraud departments asking me to confirm transactions because of "suspected fraudulent activity" on my account.

    There never has been, I've never suffered from any credit card fraud.
    I understand the bank's lose a lot to fraud and need to have procedures in place, but for me it's getting beyond a joke.

    I've taken to always carrying at least two credit and two debit cards with me, especially abroad, as nipping back from my upcoming Indian holiday to visit my local LTSB branch isn't an option!
  • Helen Greatrex
    Be wary of Halifax

    I've had several problems with Halifax with regard to this as they have blocked my card a few times while I've been abroad (after both going into a branch and ringing them to notify them).

    For example I was travelling in Ghana last year and had notified Halifax where I was going and the exact dates I would be away. The debit card was my only way of getting money in the country (you can't use mastercard or maestro).

    When I arrived in Ghana I found my card had been blocked, so I rang Halifax to get it sorted. It took 3 long phone calls at my expense for them to unblock the card (I was promised a refund on the calls but it turns out no mention of this turned up on my account notes). It then took 2 working days for them to restore the card, which was a huge problem considering I arrived on a saturday morning. Then a few weeks later during my stay, my card was recancelled due to suspicious transactions from Ghana! This then took another few expensive calls and days to sort out.

    I now have a new visa debit from a different bank and have had no problems.

    Best wishes
    • sexyboy
    • By sexyboy 29th Jul 09, 1:33 PM
    • 323 Posts
    • 3,262 Thanks
    I've lost count how many times I've had cards blocked or nearly blocked. But it's always been when at home, never abroad... yet!
    My latest was yesterday. LTSB. Spent the massive sum of *** 61 pence *** which obviously had all the alarm bells ringing at LTSB.
    Originally posted by bobcoates
    I was advised by the coop bank that typically fraudsters will do several small transactions to see if the card is valid. mine was blocked when i purchased about 4 sim cards at a penny each a few years ago
    Biggest Win: £5000
    Last Win: 2013
    • Eddi the Seahorse
    • By Eddi the Seahorse 29th Jul 09, 2:16 PM
    • 31 Posts
    • 29 Thanks
    Eddi the Seahorse
    I have a NatWest Mastercard and a Co-Op Visa card. Earlier this year I went to Australia and I informed both providers, in advance, that I was going overseas.

    Unfortunately, my Visa card had recently been secretly cloned when it was used to pay for a meal in an Indian restaurant. Whilst I was in Australia it was used for about £2000-worth of fraudulent transactions. These were all internet transactions (not chip & pin), so were not immediately picked up as suspicious. I only discovered the problem when I returned home and saw my Visa statement.

    The pattern is as sexyboy describes - a couple of small transactions first (which would not set off any alarm bells), then the big ones once the fraudster is satsified that the real card hasn't been blocked.

    To be fair to the Co-Op Bank, their staff could not have been more helpful (or apologetic), and refunded everything the fraudster had spent. But if there is a lesson to be learned from this, it is to make sure you don't let a card out of your sight - even for a moment!
    • lfc84
    • By lfc84 29th Jul 09, 2:22 PM
    • 327 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    i called nationwide in may to inform them i would be going to usa in june. the call centre told me "oh, we dont need to know anymore. we used to, but not anymore". low and behold, card gets blocked by them. i call from the us..."yes, we block cards, if you dont tell us in advance".

    this is the second time in recent years they've done this. so i have paid it off and i am going to cancel next week.

    i save some money on exchange rates, but end up spending money to get in touch with them. whilst it might not equate, i might as well avoid the hassle that i have had and get the points on my other cards as normal.
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