Credit Cards

International Nightmare: When Your Debit Card is Lost or Stolen

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I was so excited to welcome my friend who was joining me on my Bangkok trip earlier this week (trip report coming) only to discover her worst nightmare had just happened — her debit card had been left at the airport.

Fortunately things have much improved from the days when I studied abroad. With 3 weeks left to go, my debit card number had been stolen and the account had thus been closed, leaving me in 2001 England with no access to cash and no time for my parents to send me any.

So completely understanding the panic she must be feeling, I wanted to call her bank straightaway, but she sensibly wanted to avoid wracking up $2+/min charges.

After checking the Citibank website and discovering it was after hours for online chat and there was no local Thai number she could call, she tried Skype. It worked pretty well — she could use the 1-800 number and the call quality was really clear. The representative was also very helpful.

First they cancelled the card after verifying no fraudulent charges had posted yet.

Next he tried really hard to figure out if they could expedite a card to her during our trip (unfortunately all our hotel hopping and the 4th July made that not possible).

Since that wasn’t possible, he told her about her next option for the countries we were visiting, which was “emergency cash.” You can get a minimum of $250 and maximum of $1,000″ out each day by going to a local Citibank branch with proof of identity.

Fortunately, she has me with my desire to rack up as much credit card spend on my Chase Sapphire and Hyatt Visa (which have no foreign transaction fees) as possible, so I”m more than happy to keep a tab.

If the situations had been reversed, I would have had her to do the same, but I couldn’t help thinking about what my options for cash would have been if I’d been traveling alone. My bank is not an international one. Would I have been exploring my cash advance by credit card option? Working something out with the hotel? Only staying and eating at places that took credit cards?

What resources have you found helpful in situations like this?


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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1 Comment

  1. Gabbai

    July 4, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Never ever travel with only one credit card! Always have at least two and never keep them together in the same wallet / pocket book. All the credit card companies will be as helpful as possible, after all they want you to keep charging to their card and you usually charge more when you are on vacation! There are however limits as to how quickly they can get you a card so “take at least two” is the best form of self help there is. There are numerous free cards out there including ones that do not make any foreign currency surcharge. AMEX are the best at replacing cards because almost wherever there is an AMEX office, and there are many throughout the world, an emergency replacement can be issued. Once when I flew from Tel Aviv to Paris I discovered at Tel Aviv airport that I had lost my AMEX card. I called AMEX at their toll free number, explained my tale of woe and waited. No problem Sir, just go to our office in Paris when you arrive and a card will be waiting for you, it is already in the system. As my hotel was a mere 200 yards from the AMEX office that was no bother. AMEX service is really second to none. [No relationship to AMEX except being a cardholder for 30 years!]

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