My wife and I went abroad for our anniversary trip awhile back and our Cap One card was declined almost 90% of our trip so we ended up using an ATM and paying the transaction fees on withdrawing cash. I wasn’t happy about that as we called capital one and they said it should work and that it wasn’t flagged for fraud. They said that we no longer had to inform them prior to our traveling and we were good to go. It has the chip but at either a standalone register to swipe or the waiter with the portable swiper, it just wouldn’t work. There is no pin # for the card so that is what is striking me as odd and maybe why it didn’t work? We were so frustrated with capital one and I am researching which cards will not have this happen to us again. We would call them back, it would work for one purchase then wouldn’t work for the rest of the day. I am planning our next trip and wanting to see about another card but nothing beats our current one - no annual fees or transaction fees, double points per $1 but it appears that new cards even close to that require annual fees. How will I know that a card I apply for will work FOR SURE when we are traveling internationally? I figure that I will take the card with us one last time and if it doesn’t work, I’m cancelling it.
Hi there, thanks so much for joining the NerdWallet community We’re excited you’ve joined the conversation.
It’s interesting that you bring this up, because I had some off-and-on issues with acceptance the last time I traveled with one of my Capital One cards, too. I was in Brussels for a week and there were at least 5 instances where the card didn’t work, for no discernible reason. At the time, I assumed it was because my card was just old hard to read in the machines. But maybe not - weird!
Anyway, if you’re looking for an alternative card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee, I’d suggest checking out the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card:
I personally don’t use this card so I can’t speak to whether or not there are issues of acceptance overseas, but maybe other folks can! FWIW, though, our two accounts of unexplained problems with Capital One are the only that I’ve heard with any card - in other words, I don’t think that cards randomly not working is a widespread issue.
Looking forward to hearing other members’ suggestions!
Hi John! Welcome to NerdWallet let me first say I’m so sorry you had to deal with that - it sounds incredibly frustrating. I hope that you both had a great time on your anniversary trip, despite the challenges.
I don’t have a lot to add besides what @lindsay already offered, but I do want to +1 the suggestion to carry a backup card. Fraud protection has really improved over the last several years, but each bank handles things differently and sometimes we can run into challenges, especially overseas. Given this, I usually carry two credit cards with no foreign transaction fees when I travel, from different banks. Usually haven’t needed it, but it gives me some peace of mind.
Not directly related to your question, but if you travel abroad frequently, I’d recommend checking out the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account - link to NerdWallet review. They reimburse ATM fees worldwide AND don’t charge a foreign currency conversion fee when you take out cash abroad. I travel a good amount, and this account has probably saved me $100+ easily in ATM and conversion fees in the last year or two since I opened it.
Hi John! That is so frustrating. I had similar problems trying to use a Capital One ATM card abroad two years ago, and was really glad I had a backup. Just like you, I made multiple calls to customer service and then finally gave up.
On our last trip, I made sure to get PINs for all our cards, both credit and ATM. We only needed PINs for grocery store purchases; hotels and restaurants allowed us to sign (in fact, we weren’t given the option of using our PINs).
I’ll second the advice to bring a backup, and a backup to the backup, on any trip. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll REALLY need it.
We hope your next trip goes more smoothly!