Okay, consider this a public service announcement for those very few of you who’ve not figured this out yet.
Having not traveled much in other than official business capacity…and not much overseas travel even at that…I learned a few things on this trip to ZA. Yeah, even at my tender age of mumblety-three.
So, first – – Show of hands…which idiot forgot to tell the credit card people that he was going to ZA? Yep, I’m the only one with my hand up in the air. I got to the end of the first week there and, trying to make a purchase of a day petting the elephant (no, not a euphemism), was informed that my Visa card had declined any further purchases. Okay, on the good side, they did notice a ‘slight’ irregularity in spending and shut down the card. That irregularity being that 98% of previous purchases were made in the Wilds of Ohio (the other 2% within the confines of the U.S. of A.). Actually, I’d prefer they shut down the card if there were charges starting to pile up from Notusualkastahn or some such.
On the bad side? They shut the card down at the end of the business day on Friday. No one to talk to that could start the card back up until Monday. Now, come to find out that there IS a number to call, separate from the main bank office. Just never knew (since, again, I never called to let them know). We had tons planned, but little cash money to do anything. Yeah, I had an AmEx card, but not a lot of folks accept that because of the higher than normal fees they charge the merchants to accept that card.
Finally getting it straightened out on Monday, I was again able to use my card…just in time for the number to be scammed somewhere (I’m guessing it was the grocery store, but really can’t be sure). Since the second week was mostly at Girl Child’s village, I didn’t need to use the card much. Until we tried to pay for something the following Saturday. Now that was festive – –
Called an automated number I’d gotten from the bank on Monday to find out why the card wasn’t working. That call went something like —
“We’d like to confirm your last 5 charges. Please press ‘1’ if you did make the charge and ‘2’ if you did not.
“$124.15* from company XYZ?” [pressed ‘1’]
“$43.50 from company MNO?” [pressed ‘1’]
“$4,315.90 from company ABC?” [SMASHED key ‘2’]
“$2,540.70 from company JKL?” [CRUSHED key ‘2’]
“$32.30 from company RST?” [calmed enough to press ‘1’]
Ended up having to call back to talk to a human to get the card canceled and the charges refused. And back again stuck with what little cash I had on hand (plus the meager cash reserves of Daughter Person) and the AmEx (hoping I could find places that would take it).
So, tip #1 from your Uncle GnuKid? Call your credit card company to let them know you’ll be spending money in another country. They’ll be less likely to freak out and shut down your card.
Tip #2? When you call, make sure you get an international number you can call, even on weekends, to work out any issues.
Tip #3? Careful of over-reliance on AmEx to save your butt.
Tip #4? Plan extra cash on hand (knowing full well you don’t want too much cash…there are issues there as well…).
My tip for avoiding getting your card number scammed? Sorry, troops. I’ve got nothing. Neither did the credit card company. If someone really wants your number, they’ll figure a way to get it.
In the end? All was well enough…the trip was not ruined (though did have a blemish).
And to the twit who tried to charge some R30 000 on a credit card that wasn’t yours? Thank you… your greed actually saved me from having to pay.
*yes, a bit weird that I was making purchases in Rand, but the system already converted them to Dollars for the phone call.