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When I worked at a ski rental shop in Breckenridge, Colorado, I witnessed many international (and some out-of-state) customers’ credit cards get declined.
Not because their credit limits were too low or because they were purchasing too much — but because they failed to set up travel notifications with their card issuers.
So now, any time I travel to a foreign country, I always set up a travel notice on my credit card beforehand.
As a way to prevent fraud, your credit card issuer monitors your spending activity. If it notices a suspicious purchase — in an unusually large amount, or from a new location — it may decline the transaction. This could be more likely in countries where fraud is a bigger problem.
Which is why the answer to the question “Should I notify my credit card company when traveling?” is usually yes.
Although you can often get away with shopping in another state without triggering a red flag, international travel is another story.
By notifying your credit card of your travel plans, you’ll reduce the chances of getting your transaction declined in the checkout line — which, trust me, is never fun — and having to call your card issuer to verify your purchases. It’s still possible to have your purchases declined after setting a travel notice, but it’s much less likely.
Ready to create your first travel alert? While you could call your card issuer, it’s easier to do it online.
Here’s how to set up travel notices with eight different credit card issuers.
You can create Chase travel notifications up to a year in advance for credit cards, and up to 14 days for debit cards. Your travel dates can span an entire year — if you’re away for longer, you’ll simply have to adjust your dates once you’re on the road. Chase will have your request on file within 24 hours from the time you submit.
To set up Chase travel notifications, you’ll need to log in to your account and click on the credit card you plan to use. Under the “Things you can do” dropdown menu on the right, you’ll see the “Travel notification” option. That will take you to your “Profile & Settings” page, where you’ll be able to create a travel alert.
Alternatively, if you’re already outside the country, you can call Chase collect at 1-302-594-8200 to alert the issuer of your travel plans.
Our favorite Chase travel card: While many Chase credit cards are adventure-ready, we’d recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) for new travelers. Not only does it earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining, but you’ll also get a 60,000-point introductory bonus after spending $4,000 within 3 months of the account opening. You can transfer the points you earn to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs. The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee.
Surprise! You actually can’t create an Amex travel notice.
On its site, the issuer says it uses “industry-leading fraud detection capabilities” that help it recognize when you’re on the road, thereby eliminating the need to create an American Express travel notification.
The issuer does recommend you update your contact information, so it can reach you in case of any complications, and download the Amex app, so you can manage your account on the go.
Note that Amex credit cards aren’t as widely accepted across the globe. If you’re a frequent international traveler, we’d recommend looking for a card with a Visa or Mastercard logo instead because they’re accepted by most merchants. (Confused about the difference between card “issuers” and “networks”? Read this.)
Our favorite American Express travel card: For its $550 annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) offers a slew of travel perks. They include extensive airport lounge access; 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible flights and hotels; and up to $200 in Uber credits and $200 in airline fee credits per year. Its introductory bonus is 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
As with Amex, there’s no need to set a travel notice for Capital One credit cards.
If you log in and click “Set Travel Notification,” you’ll be greeted by this window:
It notes Capital One will cover you with its $0 fraud liability policy, and will also be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
Our favorite Capital One travel card: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Review) is a fantastic, easy-to-use travel rewards card. You’ll get 2X Venture miles per dollar on everything, except for 10X miles at hotels.com/venture through January 2020. The introductory bonus is 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Ready to travel with your Bank of America card? Log in to your account, and in the menu at the top right, you’ll see “Help & Support.”
Hover over those words, and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on “Set Travel Notice” — and voila! You’ll be able to add your travel dates and destinations, as well as extra details about your trip, like any planned layovers.
Bank of America cards allow you to set travel notices up to 60 days in advance, and they can last for up to 90 days. If you’ll be traveling longer than that you’ll need to adjust your travel notice later on.
Our favorite Bank of America travel credit card: If you don’t want to pay an annual fee, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card (Review) might work for you. You’ll earn 3X points per dollar at the Bank of America travel center and 1.5X points on everything else. After you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, you’ll earn 25,000 points — enough for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
If you have a Citi credit card, the first step is to log in to your account.
Then you should hover over the “Services” button in the menu, and then select “Travel Services.” Next you can select “Manage Travel Notices,” before selecting the card for which you want to set a notice. Unlike some other issuers, you’ll need to set a separate notice for each card you plan to travel with.
Citi advises making sure your contact information is up to date before traveling, and also to download the Citi Mobile App to more easily monitor your account.
Here’s what setting a Citi travel notice looks like:
Then, once you fill out your destination and dates and verify your info, you’ll be good to go!
Our favorite Citi travel credit card: The Citi Premier℠ Card (Review) offers a generous 3X ThankYou points per dollar on travel (which, unlike many other cards, includes gas purchases), plus 2X points on dining and entertainment. If you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll earn a 60,000-point introductory bonus. There’s a $95 annual fee to pay for this card.
Although Discover credit cards aren’t the best for traveling internationally, as they aren’t accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard, you should still set up a travel notice if you bring your Discover card overseas.
You can do this from your online account by selecting “Manage” at the top of your screen, then clicking “Manage Cards” and then “Register Travel.”
Our favorite Discover travel card: For a card with no annual fee, the Discover it® Miles (Review) isn’t a bad choice. You’ll get 1.5X miles per dollar spent on everything, with double your miles at the end of your first cardholder year.
If you have a PNC credit or debit card, the bank recommends you set up a travel notice, explaining: “You typically use your card at local merchants and online, but suddenly you’re buying tapas in Madrid or sushi in Tokyo. This unexpected activity is what triggers the alert. Although less likely, this kind of predicament also can happen when traveling domestically.”
To notify PNC, you can either call the financial institution at 1-888-PNC-BANK or set up an alert online. After logging in to your account, you’ll select: “Customer Service” –> “Account Services” –> “Debit/ATM Card Services” –> “Edit/View Preferences.”
Then, in the bottom right corner of your screen, you’ll see an option to “Notify PNC of Foreign Travel.” After filling it out with your dates, destinations, and phone number, you’ll be ready to go.
Recommended PNC travel credit card: Like the BofA card, the PNC Premier Traveler® Visa Signature® isn’t the best option out there — but it’s fine for PNC loyalists. It offers a 30,000-mile introductory bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 billing cycles, and 2X miles per dollar spent on everything. Its $85 annual fee is waived the first year.
If you’d like to tell Wells Fargo of your travel plans, you can either call the number on the back of your card, use the bank’s mobile app, or log in to your online account.
If you choose the latter method, you’ll hover over the “Accounts” dropdown menu, then click on “Manage Cards” –> “Manage Travel Plans.” As with the other issuers, you’ll enter your dates and destinations before submitting.
Recommended Wells Fargo travel credit card: A solid no-fee option is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (Review). It earns a generous 3X points per dollar on travel and eligible streaming services (like Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify), and at restaurants and gas stations. You’ll get a 30,000-point introductory bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Note that, because this card’s on the Amex network, it won’t be accepted with as many merchants as those with Visa or Mastercard logos, but this is Wells Fargo’s only card without a foreign transaction fee.
If you’re looking for another piece of plastic to add to your wallet, here are four things to consider when choosing the best travel rewards credit card:
Whichever card you choose, be sure to set a travel notice before you board your next train or cruise or flight — and then enjoy your vacation free of worries!
For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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