How to Avoid Credit Card Freezes While Traveling
Traveling, for business or pleasure, can be exciting. But it can be stressful if you are worried your credit card company may freeze transactions while you’re gone. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid this inconvenience.
Why do credit card companies freeze transactions?
Your card company is not freezing transactions to make your life difficult. They are actually trying to protect you. One of the ways credit card companies monitor for fraudulent activity is by flagging transactions that seem outside the norm. For example, say you live in Florida, and the credit card company sees someone trying to purchase groceries in Minnesota. This is a suspicious transaction, so they may freeze the credit card and ask you to contact them to verify the purchase. This is wonderful if someone has cloned your credit card and is trying to purchase goods without your consent. But it can be embarrassing if you are the one making purchases in Minnesota, and your card gets declined at the register.
How to avoid freezes
The easiest way to avoid credit card freezes while traveling is to notify your credit card company in advance that you will be using their card in a new geographic location. The easiest way to do this is to call your credit card company at the toll free number on the back of your card. Sometimes, there is even an option to report travel in the automated system, so you may not need to talk to a representative.
In addition, each major issuer provides additional options in setting up travel notifications:
Bank of America. Cardholders can set up travel notifications through the mobile app or their online account. With the online account, simply go to “Help & Support,” click on “Set Travel Notice” and enter your dates and destination.
Barclays. On either the mobile app or online account, click on to “Tools/My Travel” and enter the date and areas of your trip.
Capital One. This issuer has existing fraud detection practices in place so cardholders do not need to notify Capital One of their travel plans.
American Express. No notification is necessary due to the issuer’s fraud detection programs.
Citi. This issuer has its own dedicated travel page. Simply click on “Set Up/Manage,” select your card, click on “Add a Travel Notification” and enter your travel dates and destination.
Informing your card issuer of your travel plans does not guarantee your account won’t be frozen due to suspicious activity, but it does greatly minimize the risk. Since there is still a possibility, it is a good idea to travel with multiple credit cards, especially if you plan to travel overseas. Then if one card is declined, you will still have other payment options. Just be sure to notify all your card issuers of your upcoming travel.