There’s nothing worse than creating a scene at a store because your credit card got declined. It’s an even worse experience when it happens in a foreign country. Nevertheless, this is a fairly common occurrence as credit card companies attempt to block unauthorized transactions. If they don’t know you’re in another country, they may assume an out-of-the-ordinary transaction is from someone else stealing your identity.
If you want to avoid this mess in the first place, check out this guide explaining how to avoid getting your travel card declined while traveling.
Let Your Credit Card Company Know about Your Plans
Before you set sail for Europe, Asia, South America, or wherever else you plan to go, let your credit card company know about your upcoming trip. They will put a note in the system that says you’re going to be in another location so transactions from that area do not get flagged. Even if you plan to travel to another state for a short period of time, it would be wise to alert your card provider, just in case.
Check Your Available Balance
As obvious as it may sound, you need to know how much money you can spend on your credit card before you make a trip. This will prevent you from getting declined for legitimate reasons. Focus on the available balance on your card, not the money you owe or your total line of credit. If you have recently made a payment on the card, note when those funds will be available so you do not spend them too early on.
Make a Few Small Transactions First
Small transactions are less likely to get declined than large transactions. Start by buying a drink, a shirt, or something of little value on your card to make sure the transaction goes through. If your first travel expense is a big shopping spree, you will run into two big problems: your card company will flag the transaction, assuming it’s not authorized, and you will have a lot of items to return or hold while you get the block removed on your credit card. Save yourself the embarrassment and test the card out with smaller, easier-to-return purchases.
Let Technology Do the Work for You
If you have a MasterCard, you may not have to worry about alerting your card company about your travels. This credit card provider has invested millions of dollars into a program called MasterCard IQ, designed to reduce false credit card declines by up to 25%. MasterCard IQ collects information from smartphones and retailers to detect when you travel outside your home town. If you start using your card in an area where you’ve been detected, the technology will ensure that your card does not get declined.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for a credit card decline, even if you never have to worry about it. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be able to travel without the embarrassment of declined card transactions.