Help! My Pricey Travel Credit Card Wouldn’t Work When I Traveled

I won’t soon sympathize with credit card issuers based on their bottom line, but they have the daunting task of determining in milliseconds whether to block one of the billions of transactions a day. Almost all protections against card fraud are taken into account for users. Complicating matters for American card issuers is that, unlike cards from many countries, our credit cards can be used without a four-digit PIN. The Belgian researchers couldn’t say for sure, but I was told that, all else being equal, it’s reasonable to assume that transactions with a PIN are less likely to be subject to fraud than transactions without a PIN.

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“We consider a number of factors when we decide to close a potentially fraudulent transaction,” Mr. Lussier, the Chase spokesman, told me. “There are no clear recommendations to help consumers ensure that every credit card transaction they make is fraud-proof.”

But there are a few things you can do, says The Points Guy’s Mr Ewen: First, make sure your phone can receive text messages and make calls from abroad, so you can both be alerted to scams and call them from anywhere. As soon as your card is declined. (Grace, I know you receive texts overseas and haven’t received a text from Chase. But Mr. Lussier said a chip read would not trigger such a text.) Also, travel with multiple cards. I would add that you should bring three cards if you have them, two to take with you and one ATM/debit card to leave at the hotel in case of emergency. Requiring you to insert a card into the machine instead of tapping it from the start of your trip may (or may not!) have saved me from landing on the fraud radar.

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Unfortunately Grace, it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting much help this time, if you want to cancel your Chase card I’ll certainly understand. But one consolation: If you cancel, you won’t lose your points, or at least not lose their full value. You can get a cash refund within 30 days of closing your account; transfer them to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners, including United, Southwest, Marriott Bonvoy and Hyatt; or even buy a new iPhone.

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