How To Get Emergency Money On A Credit Card When Traveling
When traveling abroad, there are two cardinal rules: never run out of money, and whatever you do, don’t lose your passport.
But things are happening. Whether you lost your wallet in a piranha infested river while riding a pirogue or had your purse stolen from a hotel room, suddenly being in a foreign country with no cash is a frightening situation that could happen to anyone.
Fortunately, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have you covered. They all offer a surprisingly rich set of benefits to help stranded travelers. It’s best to avoid needing these services, however, this guide will also help you prepare for the unexpected.
Confirm file information before leaving
Before traveling, call your banks to let them know you are doing this and in which countries you plan to use the cards. This allows them to update their records so that your purchases aren’t falsely flagged as fraudulent. It also allows you to verify the information they have on their records for emergency cash purposes.
If you need to get emergency cash or a replacement card, the information you provide should match the bank’s records. exactly. You don’t want to wait until you are stuck in Seychelles to find out that your details are not up to date with the bank.
Keep a copy of your cards
Without taking out your wallet, can you name all the cards in it, as well as the card numbers? Otherwise, it’s a good idea to take a photo or photocopy of all your cards before you lose them, so if necessary, it’s easier to cancel them later. While you are doing this, it is also a good idea to make a copy of your passport, consular visas, and other important travel documents.
Travel with multiple cards (no transaction fees abroad)
The first rule of international travel is to avoid transaction fees abroad. The second rule is to expect the unexpected.
This includes your small local credit union suddenly panicking and blocking your cards because there’s no way you’re really in Japan. Right before a long vacation weekend. Even if you’ve been to Japan at least once a year for the past three years. And since it’s a holiday weekend, there is no one to reactivate your card. NOT THAT THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME (and I certainly didn’t spend four days in Tokyo visiting only free places I could walk and only eating food from vending machines).
Even if you have a really good debit card, like my favorite Charles Schwab ATM fee refund debit card, it’s still a good idea to have more than one bank account (with different banks) and different ATM cards. And, of course, more than one credit card, of more than one type. Don’t just bring two Visa cards; bring a Visa, Mastercard and / or American Express. That way, in an emergency, you have several ways to get help.
Reduce your attack surface
In some cases, this is inevitable: you are in transit and you are the most vulnerable. However, once you are established it is a good idea to leave most of your cards in a safe place (such as in the hotel safe at reception) and only take “wander around.” the money “with you when you leave. It can make all the difference between a minor problem and a major problem.
When you are carrying everything and you are the most vulnerable, it is best to distribute your money and cards in several places. This way, if some of your valuables are lost or stolen, you won’t lose them all.
Emergency cash vs emergency assistance vs replacement cards
Obtaining assistance from credit card companies should be considered a emergency service, not one cheap a service. It’s there if you need it, and usually pretty good, but it’s best to avoid needing it in the first place.
Visa, Mastercard and American Express all offer a concierge for Emergency assistance. The specific services available will depend on your card (the more premium your card, the more services are offered). However, the basics needed by most stranded travelers are covered by every product on the card: food, shelter, emergency transport, and emergency medical care. All three card companies can help you organize them, which will be billed as purchases on your account.
The good news is that emergency assistance services can be up and running in no time. Service providers who work with consolidation loans companies are used to dealing with stranded travelers.
Best of all, credit card companies don’t charge for providing emergency assistance to stranded travelers; these services are only part of the benefits of owning the card. The bad news is that credit card providers are more focused on convenience, acceptance of their card product as a form of payment, and the ability to do business in English. This means the price isn’t always as cheap as you might otherwise find online and your selection will be limited. And, since these services are subject to your credit limit, it is best to have multiple cards to ensure sufficient funds.
Emergency cash is a service you can request from the concierge. If you are requesting money in an emergency, your credit card company may send you a wire transfer via Western Union, MoneyGram, or similar. While you can withdraw cash in local currency and in as little as two hours, this service doesn’t come cheap! You will be billed for a cash advance more bank transfer fees more overseas transaction fees charged by the wire transfer service (these are significant in the case of Western Union and MoneyGram).
In addition, it is more difficult to get banks to approve this service than other emergency services because cash is a higher risk for them. This service is subject to your credit card’s advance limit and may be subject to additional limitations.
Replacing the emergency card is exactly what it sounds like – usually within 48 hours a new card will be delivered by express courier to your hotel or guesthouse. Although you are not usually billed for the card replacement service, you will often be charged around $ 50 for shipping.
For example, suppose you were skillfully pickpocketed on the train and now you are stranded in a strange town with no wallet or money. A call to the concierge, and your credit card company comes to the rescue! You are accommodated in a 4-star hotel with a restaurant and a gift shop, both of which allow you to charge for purchases in your room. They will send a car to pick you up, billed to your room of course. You’ll have everything you need, but it won’t be cheap – everything is charged to your credit card account. Your bank wouldn’t approve emergency cash (only emergency purchases), but 48 hours later, a replacement card appears, with a $ 50 shipping charge for each. It was a lot more expensive than you had expected, but your vacation was not ruined and the experience will be a laughing stock later.
How to get help
Here are the phone numbers you can call for help:
- Visa: 1-800-VISA-911 (1-800-847-2911)
- Mastercard: 1-800-MCASSIST (1-800-622-7747)
- American Express: For replacement cards, call 1-800-964-8542. For Global Assist, who can help you with cash in an emergency, you can call 1-800-554-2639
You may notice that these numbers are all toll free numbers in the United States. They are not reachable when calling from outside the United States, but there is a workaround: Skype! You can use Skype to call toll-free numbers in the United States for free, even when calling from overseas. Note that bots can be very frustrating to use with Skype, so it’s best to just dial 0 until you get a human.
Visa, Mastercard and American Express also offer local numbers in many countries around the world. It is not a bad idea to call ahead to ask for the local phone number of the country (or countries) where you will be traveling. This way you can call from a local phone for help.
Despite the publicity, don’t expect your bank to show up in a helicopter ready to save the day. Instead, expect them to provide a limited set of services designed for stranded travelers or those with medical needs. They will be performed relatively well, but they won’t be cheap!