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If you’re planning an upcoming trip, your to-do list is probably already a mile long. But before you leave, it may be in your best interest to keep your credit card issuer in the know with a travel notice.
“If you’re using your credit card in a new location, especially a foreign country, that’s a huge red flag for potential fraud,” says Lee Huffman, a travel expert at BaldThoughts.com.
To protect itself and you, your issuer may end up declining the charge.
If this happens, you’ll typically have to call the issuer to prove you attempted to make the purchase and get the go-ahead to try again. But it can still be an embarrassing experience.
“My wife and I were visiting friends in Dallas a few years back and were buying some groceries,” Huffman says. “When it came time to pay, my card was declined as a potentially fraudulent transaction. I was beyond embarrassed to have this happen in front of my wife and friends.”
If you’re overseas or visiting an area with bad cell service, it could get even worse. If you can’t get ahold of your bank and don’t have a backup payment method, you may end up stranded.
To help avoid this potential hassle or an embarrassing situation, contact your bank to let it know your travel plans. It’s also a good idea to make sure your contact info with the issuer is up-to-date. That way, it can easily contact you if it spots an issue while you’re away.
How to set travel notifications with common credit card issuers
“The easiest method of placing a travel alert is to call the number on the back of your credit card,” Huffman says. “You can also send a secure message through the bank’s online portal.”
But if you don’t want to wait on hold for customer service or you’re leaving for your trip in the next few days and can’t wait for a message to be processed, you may have other options. And depending on the issuer, you may not even need to create a notification at all.
Because of the fraud detection practices the issuer uses, setting an American Express travel notification is unnecessary. In fact, there’s not even an option to create one online.
Bank of America
You can set up a Bank of America travel notice on your mobile app or through your online account.
How to set up a travel notice through your online account:
- Log in and hover over the “Help & Support” menu tab.
- Click on “Set Travel Notice” in the drop-down menu.
- Enter your destination(s), travel dates, contact number and card(s) you’re taking with you. Share any other travel details you think are relevant.
You can easily set up a Barclays travel alert through the mobile app or online:
- Log in to your account and go to Tools/My Travel.
- Share where you’re traveling to and the dates you’ll be gone.
As with American Express, setting a Capital One travel notice isn’t necessary. While there still seems to be an option through your online account, clicking on it gives you the message, “Travel notifications are no longer needed!”
To set a Chase travel notification, start by logging into your online account:
- Click on the icon with three horizontal bars at the top left of your screen.
- Click on “Profile & Settings.”
- Scroll down to the bottom under “More Settings” and click on “Travel.”
- Click on “Update” at the far-right side of the credit card section.
- List your departure and return dates and your destination.
Chase travel notices require a bit more legwork to set up than alerts with other banks, but it may still be worth it if you want to avoid the trouble or embarrassment of being unable to use your card while traveling.
Rather than searching through your online account, Citi allows you to create travel notifications through its dedicated travel notice page.
- Click on “Set Up/Manage.”
- Log in using your user ID and password.
- Select the card you plan to take with you and click on “Add a Travel Notification.”
- Select which user(s) will have the card, your travel dates and destination.
You can also create a travel notification through Citi’s mobile app:
- Click on “Card Management.”
- Click on “Travel Notices.”
- This will take you to Citi’s Travel Notices page. Once there, click on “Add A Trip.”
- Select the card you plan to take with you.
- Enter your trip’s start and end date.
To set up a travel notification with Discover, start by logging into your account online.
- Select the card you’re planning to take with you.
- Click on the “Manage” menu tab at the top of your screen.
- Click on “Register Travel” under the “Manage Cards” section.
- Enter your destination(s) and trip dates.
Unlike most of the other top banks, U.S. Bank doesn’t allow you to create a travel notification through your online account. Instead, it recommends that you contact its customer service team directly.
If you want to take your Wells Fargo credit card with you, set up a Wells Fargo travel plans notice. You can do so through the bank’s mobile app or through your online account.
- Start by logging into your account.
- Hover over the “Accounts” drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
- Click on “Manage Travel Plans,” which is under the “Manage Cards” section.
- Enter your travel dates and destination(s).
What if I’m traveling to several places?
Depending on the issuer, you may be able to choose multiple destinations, so you don’t have to set a different travel alert every time you move to a different location.
Setting up credit card travel notices is a good idea if you want to avoid the hassle of contacting your credit card issuer while traveling. And while you’re at it, make sure you have the right card for your trip. For example, some of the best travel credit cards charge no foreign transaction fees, making them a great travel companion for overseas trips.
Some of them also offer special travel protections, such as travel accident insurance or trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which can reimburse you for some costs if your trip is canceled or cut short for a covered reason.
Shop around and compare several cards with your current one to make sure you’re getting as much value as possible.