Travel Hack #2: Replace All of Your Credit Cards
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As we've researched, prepared for, and done some travel, we've come up with some tips, tricks and hacks to make long term, light weight traveling possible. Here's a tip that will make things a bit easier.
Before Leaving, Replace All Credit Cards
Preparing to travel for a long period of time can seem pretty easy. Sell everything, buy the things you need but don’t have, pack your backpack, buy a plane ticket and board the plane. This can work for many, but for us, this wasn’t a good enough plan. We’re going to be gone for roughly 12 months and want to focus on our travels, while mitigating the need to put out fires at home or have things fall apart behind the scenes. Our to-do list was pretty long and thorough, but it really helped us leave the country with all (we hope!) loose ends tied up. We thoroughly researched and gathered resources for options and alternatives while on the road; think lodging and hotel, rental car, volunteer opportunities, and mobile travel apps.
Expiring Credit Cards
We’ve never proactively called a bank to send us a new card before it expired, it’s always been taken care of by the financial institution. However, being abroad for about a year is different. Without fail, we’ll be in line at the register, thousands of miles from home, and our card will have expired. So, we must plan ahead.
The Hassles of Letting 'Em Expire
You’ll more than likely have to have the card forwarded to you once mailed to the mailing address on file with the bank. Complications arise when you haven’t updated the mailing address and the card goes to an empty home or to a stranger who's living in the home you used to live in.
Also, you have to realize that the card expired in the first place. More than likely you end up in a situation where you’re trying to use the card while traveling and it’s declined because it expired. You now end up in a bad predicament, but hopefully, you have a different form of payment on you.
You could also have the card on file for auto-bill pay with another service. If you haven’t updated the card number or account information you could end up with fees for late or invalid payment. If you end up in this situation, be sure to call the company that charged you the fees and kindly ask for a one-time exception and removal of the fee. Many companies will do this, especially, if you’re a long time and/or customer in good-standing.
Get New Credit and Bank Cards Issued
The easiest way to avoid having cards expire while you’re traveling is to have new cards issued for all accounts that’ll be expiring while you’re away. Sounds simple, right? However, imagine having to call each banking institution and taking 10 minutes explaining that you’ll be traveling overseas for an extended period of time and would like a new card issued. Almost without fail you’ll have the customer service representative who thinks you’re trying to place a travel alert, the representative who thinks you’re moving overseas, the representative who thinks you want to close your account…you get the picture. Instead, we opted to simply say that we’d misplaced the card in question.
Call the institution that issues the card that’ll be expiring during the time of travel.
“We misplaced our bank card. We’ve looked everywhere for it, but to prevent any fraudulent charges, would you mind canceling the card right away and sending us a new one? It’s not necessary to issue a new number. Thank you very much!”
- Find the toll free number by looking on the back of the card or google the company name with “phone number” or “customer service”.
- Confirm how long it’ll take to get your new card.
- Confirm there's no charge associated with cancellation or delivery of a new card.
- Keep in mind, you realistically won’t be able to use the account for a few days. Plan accordingly.
- Update any auto-bill pays with your new CCV/CCV2 and expiration date from the new card.
The following tips are good when calling a customer service line for any reason:
- Go through the spiel in your head in advance. You’ll speak more elegantly and stammer less, besides, not sounding like a stammering idiot is good.
- To speak with a person faster, choose the automated option that's to upgrade or establish service. If you’re spending money, the company wants to talk to you ASAP.
- Remember the agents name who you’re speaking with. They’ll likely appreciate it when you call them by name.
- Do the world a favor and be kind and treat the agent like a person. They’ll appreciate it, especially if they’re having a bad day. Not to mention, they're actually a person!
Scammers Get Scammed!
There’s no need for that old, canceled card, right? Wrong! Don’t throw it out just yet. You can use it in a fake wallet while traveling. Place it in the wallet so the mugger or pick-pocketer will think they got your real wallet, leaving you with your valid cards expertly hidden away. They won’t realize you gave them a fake wallet until they try using the card and it fails. Meanwhile, you’re long gone!
Quick Financial Preparedness Tip:
Update and make note of what bills are being paid by what accounts. We have a bookmark folder with all of our financial accounts bookmarked for easy reference. Use this folder to easily check accounts and ensure they’re in good standing while traveling. Bonus, this folder can be used when not traveling. If you have a reference of all accounts, you can easily update billing and account information. For example, if you cancel a credit card that was paying a bill, use this bookmark folder to know which account(s) need to be updated.