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Q: One of my credit cards was frozen while I was traveling. How did that happen?
A: While inconvenient, this is a safety precaution to limit credit card fraud.
To unlock your card, just call the 800 number on the back and speak with a representative. To prevent this from happening, let your card issuer know you are planning on traveling in advance of your trip.
Why Does this Happen?
When you watch advertisements for credit cards on television, it’s easy to conclude that credit card companies want you to use their cards to take a memorable vacation. Of course, they imply that you should charge most or all of your holiday on their card.
But there are certain things that credit card companies don’t tell you about traveling with credit cards.
You should call your credit card company before you travel.
Today’s security measures are so strict that credit card issuers are likely to automatically flag any transaction that occurs well away from your home zip code. Informing your credit card company about your destination (even if it is inside the U.S.) will help prevent your account from getting a freeze put on it.
Your card may not work abroad.
Countries like Canada, Mexico, Japan, and those in Europe may not be able to read your credit card information from its magnetic strip.
That’s because these nations deal with “chip and PIN” credit cards, where the digital information is contained on a computer chip in the card and you are required to enter a PIN number when using it. You may have to carry more than one card or use cash or travelers cheques to get around this problem.
It can be difficult to unfreeze your card while you are abroad.
You might assume that it’s easy to fix a misunderstanding about your card, but that isn’t necessarily true. And it’s a bigger hassle if you’re trying to do it at a foreign retailer who doesn’t speak the same language. Again, it is helpful to have a backup payment option.