At one point or another this is going to happen to you or someone you know abroad. It can be quite alarming if you find yourself in this situation especially if you are alone and, in a country, where you don’t quite understand the language. Here is a guide about what to do to prevent your card getting blocked in the first place or how to get by if it is;
- Ensure that you alert the bank that you are going abroad in the first place. This can be done by online banking, over the phone or in your local branch.
- Take cash with you in advance with a little extra for emergencies so that you don’t have to use your card.
- Ensure your phone can receive calls and texts abroad so that you can complete security checks.
- Have a back up card for emergencies or one which is specifically for use abroad which will also save you paying international fees.
- Don’t go crazy spending. These kinds of purchases can flag up suspicious behaviour even if it is you and get your card blocked.
- Ensure you have travel insurance which will cover you.
- Keep your card hidden as sometimes they just need the information to buy things online without the card ever going missing.
- Regularly check your online banking to ensure that all the transactions are made by you.
What to do if your card is blocked;
- Look for the number on the back of the card and call your provider to get you card unblocked. They sometimes have strange times and it can be expensive so aim for quiet hours to save money.
- Have someone at home who can maybe top up your international card or deal with the bank on your behalf. They could also send money via PayPal as long as you can pay them back.
- Have a PayPal account so that you can easily transfer money to people who can make a withdrawal on your behalf. This is easily done and has a better exchange rate than if you go straight to a cash machine.
- Travelers cheques are still an option and they can be redeemed at any cash chequing store. But watch out as these places often take a high commission rate.
- Claim on your travel insurance especially if your wallet or purse has been stolen to cover you.
- Some banks have deals throughout the world where you can withdraw money from your account anywhere in the world so ensure you know what branches you can do this.
- If you have any spare currencies from other countries you can sometimes transfer this or your own currency at exchange places.
- If you cannot get through to the bank and are seriously in trouble. Go to your local embassy for help. They can give you enough to get by but you WILL have to pay it back. Post Brexit you will not be able to go to any European embassy. Pre Brexit-you could. This must be a last resort as embassies are there for emergencies.
Prevention is the best form of protection. International cards are the safest bet and having cash. But if you carry cash it is easier to budget and lock some away in your room in case you get robbed. Keep the money in two separate places just in case and have a back up card as an emergency and ensure it is hidden. Have a secret pocket or I used to hide it in my bra. Be alert, aware and prepared.