If your debit card winds up lost, stolen or eaten by an ATM overseas, your travel plans can be seriously inconvenienced. Here are tips to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
Prepare before your trip
It’s a good idea to let your bank know when and where you’ll be traveling before you head overseas. You can also confirm which number to call if something goes awry. Another pro tip: Make sure you bring a backup card, as well as some cash in the local currency.
Keep your debit card account numbers in a safe place. Take a photo of the front and back of your card with your smartphone and store the images and numbers in an app that is encrypted or password-protected. That way, they won’t be accessible if your device gets lost.
If you lose your debit card, call your bank or credit union
You’ll want to alert your financial institution ASAP, so it can take steps to protect your account from fraud. The trusty toll-free 800-number you use for customer service may not work overseas, so plan to call a direct line. Skip to the end of the article for a list of bank phone numbers for international callers. You may also be able to get in touch via your bank’s secure mobile app or website.
Once you notify your bank or credit union, a representative can walk you through the steps to take if you misplace your debit card. This includes suspending or freezing your debit card, having a replacement sent to you and monitoring your account for unauthorized charges.
Use a backup debit card
If possible, avoid relying on one card when traveling abroad. Instead, pack multiple forms of payment — cash, debit and credit cards — so you have options if one goes missing or simply doesn’t work. Your bank will probably send a replacement card to you, but it can take a few days. Having a spare card can help with access to your money.
If you don’t have a backup card, you could ask family or friends to wire funds to you, using a service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. You could also ask your card issuer if it could wire emergency funds from your account. Note that these services typically come with fees.
Backup cards that offer ATM reimbursements and don’t charge foreign transaction fees can help you avoid extra expenses. Some even offer spending rewards and perks, so they are good to have as primary debit cards, too. Here are some of NerdWallet’s debit card recommendations. Note that they may be offered by nonbank providers, who partner with a bank for FDIC insurance.
Best for rewards: Discover's Cashback Checking
Best for ATMs: Axos Bank's Rewards Checking
Best for travel: Charles Schwab Bank's High Yield Investor Checking
Best for travel: Capital One's 360 Checking
Customer service numbers for international travelers
1-315-724-4022 (call collect)
1-210-677-0065 (call collect)
1-412-803-7711 (call collect)
1-925-825-7600 (call collect)
» Learn more about foreign transaction and ATM fees
Losing a bank debit card while traveling overseas is a hassle, but it doesn’t have to mean you lose access to all your money. With a little preparation and a backup plan, you can quickly resolve your debit card issue and get back to enjoying your trip.