Please tell me I won't have to busk for money in Mexico!
April 16, 2011 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Going overseas in 4 and both by debit and credit card stopped working. Can I get a replacement or open a new account and get a card in time in Australia?

I've been thinking of moving away from my current bank but was going to put it off till after we got back from our holiday. But I tried to use my card in two separate shops yesterday and it didn't work. I can still get money out of ATM's but I'm a bit worried I'll land in Mexico and be unable to get my money!

Its the weekend here and I know the branches are closed. Is it realistic to get a replacement card from my current bank by Wednesday afternoon, or alternatively opening a new account and having a functioning card in that time in Australia?
posted by Admira to Work & Money (13 answers total)
that should be "going overseas in 4 days"...
posted by Admira at 6:31 PM on April 16, 2011

If the two uses were within a short time frame, it may have been a network error with the credit card system and not a specific problem related to your card. If the ATM was your bank's ATM, then they would access the info on whether the account was open and had funds in a different way. So you may not need to panic yet.

And at my US bank, it would not be possible to get a new or replacement card that fast. Even with a rush order, they have to be sent from the card processor and then sent express mail.

How about taking money out of your account and buying a prepaid credit card if you're worried?
posted by saffry at 6:48 PM on April 16, 2011

Can you call the number on the back of the card and ask if there is a problem with the card?
posted by carter at 6:55 PM on April 16, 2011

I have had credit cards overnighted by the issuing bank (Chase) and when I lost my debit card and went in person to my local credit union, I was issued a "temporary" card to use until the new one arrived. I'm assuming your credit card is issued by the same bank as your debit card? You can ask first thing Monday morning.. at the worst, you can get traveller's checks.

Once when I was traveling abroad I was unable to take out money from an ATM machine for a couple days. Apparently the service that does the currency conversion was "down" and my bank could do nothing but advise me to wait. One should always have a back-up plan for funds when traveling abroad. I always take an emergency credit card with me when traveling for the very reason you mentioned.
posted by loquat at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2011

What actually happened was that both my cards are chip cards. I tried to use my main banking card from the chip, and it wouldn't read it. I tried to use my backup (emergency) credit card and the same thing happened. So I assumed it was a problem with that shops chip reader and they entered my numbers manually into their system and it went through.

Then I went to another store and the process repeated itself. The cards are looking a bit beat up but intact and up till now have been working fine.

I got money out after that from an ATM and it went through no problems.

I was thinking maybe I could open a new account here with a global bank like HSBC ... and possibly arrange to pick up the card when I'm in Mexico. No idea how realistic that is and tried calling them (and my bank) and will have to call Monday.
posted by Admira at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2011

Just to confirm, you went on holiday and then your cards stopped working? Did you use your cards on holiday? The banks are pretty vigilant against fraud these days and often shut down a card if you're using it out of the country, etc, since it seems unlikely that it's you. It's a good idea to call ahead and let them know you'll be out of the country so they don't do that. My boss never bothers, and his cards get shut down a lot on business trips.

If that's what happened, a phone call and some security questions should straighten it out.

Good luck!
posted by Caravantea at 7:21 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The temporary cards don't always work internationally and aren't set up to run on the visa/mastercard network so you can't use it whrerever they take credit cards.

Call the bank and push and holler til they overnight you a new card. I was in the same situation several years ago.

A Bank of American maching ate my card for no reason. THe machine appeared to be working. I put my card in. It went to "temporarily out of service" instantly and kept my card. I was leaving in 3 days to travel internationally. The temporary card wouldn't work internationally, I was told.

I called Bank of America and asked them to overnight me a new card. The guy on the phone said he couldn't change the shipping that it was all done by computer. I said I'm sure someone can do it, could you escalate the call. This went on and on and though I was patient at first, after hours of this and multiple phone calls my patience was wearing thin. Basically me insisting that it was their fault so they should be the one's to fix it and them telling me too bad.

Finally I said to one guy, "Look, I know SOMEONE at Bank of America has to power to get me a new card. I know that person may not work in your call centre. I know this may not be there job, but SOMEONE can do it and I want to speak to them." The guy put me on hold. He comes back and says "Ok, here's the address to write to..." Yes, that's right, he was going to give me a snail mail address. I snapped at this point and said "No, I want to talk to them on the phone. I don't have time for mail. I want to speak to someone who has the power to help me." He said "Fine." and give me a number. He was clearly annoyed, and I realized later that his intent was probably to be a smart ass with the number he gave me.

So I called the number and a woman answered and I started with my story..."I put my card in the machine and the machine ate my card..." and was interrupted with "Oh, you have the wrong number, let me..." and I said (in a tone of desparation that probably won me enough pity to be heard out) "No, please, just hear me out. The call centre gave me this number..." And she heard me out. Then before I could even ask her to overnight me a card she offered to do it. I gave her my info. The next day I had reason to call back (they had made a typo on the address on the fedex form) and got "You have reached the office of Mr. X and Ms. Y..." voicemail message.

Well on a hunch, I don't remember what it was, I googled the names. The man's name was the CEO or president or some such of Bank of America. I assume the woman I spoke with was his secretary. She was very nice and I got my card on time.

So yeah, push for an overnighted card and call the bank CEO if you have to.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:26 PM on April 16, 2011

my credit union can print debit cards on demand. they don't have the raised/embossed numbers, but that has yet to be an issue for me and i've been using these cards for a few years now. they all have carried the visa logo and have worked fine everywhere i have ever needed them to.
posted by fore at 7:46 PM on April 16, 2011

The chip on the card doesn't work, but the mag strip does? Is that what you're saying? Because if so, Mexico and the US ATMs and POS terminals don't use chips. We're old school in the Americas. If the accounts you have are OK and the cards can be used with the mag strip you should be OK. If your bank thinks your cards are used fraudulently, they'll put a hold on the card. You should call the number on the back of the card to confirm -- and -- let them know you're traveling overseas as some banks will think you're overseas activity is grounds to freeze the account until they can confirm there's no fraud. You should also go online and check with your bank's website for a phone number you can call from where you'll be on your trip. Often large banks have a list of toll free numbers where you can call from where you are on holiday to reach the call center back home in order to lift a hold or report the card lost or stolen.

If the cards are damaged and need to be replaced, most banks will allow overnight delivery (some may charge extra) to your hotel where you're staying. Of course overnight is from when the bank gets the request to print the card and it is process. Given the distance it may take 2-3 days. And if you're going to smaller beach towns in Mexico there may be more of a delay. I would think this would be a measure of last resort as when you order new cards, your old ones are invalidated.

Although there is HSBC everywhere, they're subsidiaries. You can't pick up a HSBC card in Mexico for an account in Australia (or anywhere else). If you use their ATMs in other countries, there's usually no fee. But a person at an HSBC branch in Mexico would have control over your account or give you any more information than you can get from the ATM.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 PM on April 16, 2011

Disabuse yourself of the notion that a nominally "international" banking brand like HSBC is any use to you while traveling.

Also disabuse yourself of the notion that there being the same company's logo on your credit card and debit/EFTPOS card means the issuing organizations are in any practical way connected. Sorting this kind of thing out over the phone is notoriously painful.

Take traveller's cheques.
posted by m1ndsurfer at 8:51 PM on April 16, 2011

I'm with Westpac, and in June last year there were fraudulent transactions on my card 5 days before I was due to go o/s for 3 months. They cancelled my card on Monday and the new one arrived on Wednesday. You should call the card help line that is on the back if your card (now, dont wait until tomorrow) and see what they can do for you. If that's not going to work in time, you could probably get a Commonwealth travel money card - you pay for it and they load it on the spot.
posted by cholly at 11:43 PM on April 16, 2011

Take traveller's cheques.

I'll chime in here to say that due to the popularity of ATM machines, the large regional bank in my small American city does not keep travellers checks in stock anymore; they must order them.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:47 AM on April 17, 2011

So down to defcon 3... I went to the bank today and they gave my card a clean, tested it and told me it would be fine. Went straight to buy something using the chip and it seems to be fine, so I think I'll be OK.
Thanks all for the answers!
posted by Admira at 6:48 AM on April 18, 2011

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