Card problems a pain when you’re so far away
FOR jetsetters travelling abroad any money nerd will tell you it pays to organise your finances before you take off.
And I concede I’m one of those nerds – it’s important to avoid nasty fees by going on the hunt for more cost- effective ways to use your money without getting slammed every time you pay by card.
But on this occasion, being super- organised backfired big time. My recent month- long adventure through Europe saw me arrange my finances diligently beforehand.
I ordered a wad of cash and signed up to a card weeks before I left Australia.
I opened up a Citibank Plus Transaction Account – a debit account – specifically for my travels, which I thought would be a good place to park my spending money and use my money freely without being hit with fees.
Before leaving, I phoned up my various banks to notify them when I would be travelling overseas so they were aware foreign transactions would inevitably appear on my account. This was despite Citibank’s voice recording specifically telling me there was no need to do this. I thought I would do it anyway.
Once I finally arrived in London, I thought all was well, but how wrong could I be?
It wasn’t until I made my first ATM transaction in London that the next time I went to use my card it was rejected.
Initially I couldn’t work out the problem until I tried multiple ATMs and EFTPOS terminals and got the same response, “your card has been declined.”
Despite, this there was no email in my inbox, an SMS or any notification from my bank.
I phoned up Citi Australia and this in itself was difficult – I chose the lost or stolen card option on the phone prompts just to finally reach someone to tell them of my woes.
Finally they told me a hold had been put on my account as the result of a “suspicious transaction” – in Paddington, London.
I was so annoyed, I had to waste my time on the phone to find out the problem, which shouldn’t have happened in the first place – I had already told the bank I would be overseas.
After a few days and a couple of other niggling issues that were eventually resolved, all was good, until I returned to Australia and found I couldn’t immediately move the remaining cash out of my account; I would have to wait a few days to do so. This is another long story. I was then contacted by the bank the following week to find out about my experience with them and this in itself left me shocked – they actually wanted to hear my problems.
While banks are trying to protect us from fraudsters, the ability to use my account was unnecessarily hindered through no fault of mine, and what was worse, the bank never told me they were putting a hold on my account.
So remember, sometimes being super organised and diligent does not pay off.