Card prob­lems a pain when you’re so far away

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SO­PHIE ELSWORTH

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.

Happy trav­els.

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