Bank Of America Stranded Me In Japan Without Cash On My Honeymoon

Before leaving for his honeymoon, Derek called Bank of America to make sure he could rely on his debit card while he was in Japan. Bank of America assured him that he would have no problem accessing money. Yet on the third day of his honeymoon, neither he nor his wife could draw cash from their cards, stranding them with only $15 in cash.

He writes:

My wife and I went on our honeymoon in March of 2006. We both had saved about $2,500 to spend on our ten day trip. Rather than paying currency exchange fees and carrying a huge amount of cash with us, we opted to carry our Bank of America Visa debit cards with us and withdraw smaller amounts of cash at Citibank ATMs (which only have very minimal cash withdrawal fees).

Both of us called Bank of America’s customer service about two weeks prior to our trip and went through the whole ridiculous ID verification nonsense you talked about. We spoke to their fraud protection department and let them know on each of our individual cards that we would be in Japan during that time and that we would be making frequent large purchases and cash withdrawals on our cards. They assured us that everything was taken care of and we’d have no problems using our cards while we were in Japan.

On the third day of the trip, we went to Akihabara to make some video game purchases. I found the only Wii system we saw the entire time we were on the trip and tried to buy it. My card was declined, which was incredibly embarrassing and difficult to deal with because of the language barrier. My wife tried her card and it went through, thankfully. The next shop we came to had something she wanted to purchase, at which point her card was declined. She paid with the cash she had left over, leaving both of us with about the equivalent of $15 total in cash.

We assumed we’d hit some sort of daily limit and thought we’d just get more cash out the following day and it’d be fine. When our cards were both declined at the ATM the next morning, we got worried. We spent the last of our cash on the cheapest phone card we could find so we could call the bank and get this mess taken care of. We scoured their website looking for a 24-hour customer service number but couldn’t find one (with the time difference between here and Japan, they had just closed their main customer service department and it would’ve been 10 or so hours till it opened again). We tried calling the other 24-hour numbers to see if there was a way to get to someone that could help us.

We ended up having to spend an entire day sitting in our hotel room doing absolutely nothing waiting for their customer service department to open. We didn’t have any money for food and all we were able to eat was a few candy bars we had picked up a few days prior. When we finally got to talk to someone that night, they said we should’ve tried the 24-hour number and that the other people we spoke to should’ve given it to us. Both cards had been frozen due to unusual activity and they basically said it doesn’t matter that we told them exactly what we were going to be doing. They assured us we wouldn’t have any more problems this time, but when we went to get money out (about a mile away from the hotel) my wife’s card was declined again. After walking back to the hotel and getting it fixed again, we were able to use our cards for the rest of the trip without a problem.

Still, we wasted an entire day on our honeymoon in Japan, wondering if we would even be able to fix the problem at all. When I called customer service when we got home, I was told that the problem was our fault because we were relying on those two cards. Their reaction to what happened was that I should’ve had other credit cards or cash available in case there was a problem with our Bank of America cards. It took me more than six months and countless phone calls with threats to move my accounts (two checking, two savings, a money market savings, and a mortgage loan) over to another bank for them to take any responsibility and offer me a $300 credit for the time lost and the poor experience.

Sorry for the lengthy email, but I couldn’t resist when I read your article. Bank of America has absolutely horrible customer service and more people need to be aware of it. I’m glad someone with access to a widely read forum was able to post this sort of information and get the word out.

Don’t rely on a single bank or form of payment, especially when traveling. Treat your money like an investment and diversify.

PREVIOUSLY: Bank Of America Won’t Let You Access Your Money
(Photo: mrhayata)

Comments

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  1. edrebber says:

    Divide the cost of the honeymoon by the number of days and demand that BoA refund you that amount of money.

  2. ClayS says:

    “Don’t rely on a single bank or a form of payment, especially when traveling.”

    Absolutely, it’s just common sense.

  3. Amelie says:

    It’s a sad comment on our society that most wisdom in regards to money matters is learned through bad experiences. There would be no reason for a young couple to question that the bank’s information could not be trusted, unless they had been screwed before. I hope you find a way to sue them or get a refund.

  4. ShortBus says:

    @edrebber: D+ for reading comprehension. Mentioned in the submission: 10 day trip, $2500 to spend. That’s $250/day. They lost one day of their honeymoon. BoA credited them $300.

  5. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    @ClayS: Perhaps, but it shouldn’t have to be. One shouldn’t have to expect one’s bank to screw up at every turn.

  6. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I’m going to be traveling to the UK for two weeks next month for training. I’ll have my company card, but I can use it only for travel, lodging, and food. The outlay for souvenirs and personal items has to come from me. I do not carry credit cards (and don’t try to talk me into using them because my mind is made up). I do have a debit card (thankfully not through BoA), and though I planned on calling my bank before I left, I’m afraid of running into the same problems these folks did.

    So, I plan to take some cash. I’ll be safe because I am traveling with a few colleagues. What is the best way to take spending money overseas? Travelers checks? Exchange at the airport? What do you suggest?

  7. Rachacha says:

    “We ended up having to spend an entire day sitting in our hotel room doing absolutely nothing…”

    I am sure that if I were on my honeymoon I could have thought of at least one thing to do ;-)

  8. chiieddy says:

    Agreed. While it’s great they had the money in advance, foreign travel is the only good time to use a CapitalOne card and pay it in full immediately upon getting home. CapitalOne charges no exchange fees and waives the 3% conversion fee Visa charges.

    There’s an article on Bankrate about it.

    [www.bankrate.com]

  9. wring says:

    I can’t even read past the third sentence. foregoing exchanging currency??? isn’t this the first rule of international travel?? the bank will KILL you with atm fees! and what’s wrong w/ traveller’s checks?

  10. timmus says:

    It took me more than six months and countless phone calls with threats to move my accounts (two checking, two savings, a money market savings, and a mortgage loan) over to another bank

    Frankly I’ll be impressed when he makes good on that threat.

    In 2002 I had a business account with BoA. They refused to help when a “customer” used our ABA routing/transit on a refund check to purchase porn. The local branch wouldn’t help either. I ordered them to cut a cashiers check and close the account. Two hours later we were with a regional bank. Their commercial account manager couldn’t believe how BoA treated us.

  11. CharlieSeattle says:

    @speedwell: Why don’t you just get visa gift cards?

  12. Rachacha says:

    @speedwell: It depends on where in the UK you will be traveling. In London, there are currency exchange stations throughout the city where you should be able to cash a travelers check for U.S. dollars. If you will be in areas that are not typically “tourist” areas, it may be more difficult to exchange currency.

    I will usually exchange $150 at the airport to give me some spending cash where credit/debit cards are not convenient/not accepted, and then exchange it at the airport when I return as they will give you the same exchange rate that you “purchased” the money with.

  13. Amelie says:

    @speedwell: Since your mind is made up not to carry a credit card for overseas travel, and you assume having companions equals safety, my suggestion is to learn from your experience “as to the best way to cash your dollars.” Bon Voyage!

  14. johnva says:

    Frankly, I side with Bank of America here. The fraud protection thing is just an algorithm. It doesn’t even tell them necessarily why it declined/froze your debit card. Usually it just detects “anomalous” transactions, which it sounds like you did a lot of. They can’t necessarily know what sort of transactions will trigger it or what kind of transactions you will have. The bank is in a no-win situation: if they turn off their fraud protection entirely then people would whine about debit card fraud (in fact there was a post here just the other day doing exactly that), and if they don’t disable it people whine that it can’t magically know that a transaction is really legit.

    While it sucks that they didn’t have any money for a day, I have to agree that they should have prepared for an eventuality like this in a foreign country on the other side of the world. Japan is still a pretty cash-based society. Even if I intended to rely on my ATM card for the most part, I would have brought at least a couple of days worth of local cash with me and I never would have spent all but $15 worth of my cash before securing more. So while I sympathize with what happened I think Derek should have been a lot more careful. The bank was very nice to offer $300. While it’s sort of their fault that the debit cards didn’t work (though not really, as I explained above) it’s NOT their fault that he didn’t have any additional ways to pay for anything. Not smart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great comment. People are quick to make complaints about a bank, but the majority of the time it is the fault of the consumer. I once got stranded at a gas station, because the gas station is known for fraud transations. I didn’t have cash and was on my way to work. I didn’t fault the bank for them protecting my account, I actually thank them for placing a hold on my account until I called and verified that I am making that transaction. Nowadays, customers call a bank and complain about their interest rate increasing to a rate of 20+ percent, and it’s 100% of the customer’s fault for making a late payment. This is why a lot of banks are on the news because of this!!

    • autumnleigh02 says:

      I agree! I am glad that some credit card companies take fraud protection seriously. I ran into an issue when I was trying to find wedding invitations. Without knowing, I ordered samples from another country. Within 20 minutes, by bank called and had my account temporarily frozen. Although it was just me, I am so glad that they watch my accounts so closely.

  15. ancientsociety says:

    That’s horrible but I agree with Carey, you should NEVER rely on one bank/form of payment when traveling. And even then, you should by a money belt and keep at least $100 in it at all times (thanks, Rick Steves!).

  16. DeltaPurser says:

    Oh, come on… You mean to tell us you flew half way across the globe with ONE credit/debit card in your wallet?!?! Nothing for backup in case of emergency? Your claim of having wasted a whole day at the hotel waiting for Customer Service to open is rediculous as well… Get real, and quit whining about something that was done to protect you…

    You know damn well you would have been the first one to raise hell had they NOT rejected a purchase if the card had been stolen.

  17. johnva says:

    @wring: When I was in Japan studying abroad I used ATM’s to get cash all over. I used the postal service ATM’s, which did not charge a fee at all (do not know if it’s still that way) and were available in every post office. BoA did not charge me a fee either. Plus, I’m getting a lot back from the lawsuit against the banks for rigging the exchange rates now :)

    • Michiru Shibata says:

      @johnva: It is still that way with BOA’s debit card. And the number of post offices in Japan is far greater than the largest bank in Japan!

  18. coan_net says:

    My wife took a cruise down to Mexico for a week about 2 months ago, and she was planning on using her card for most all purchases – even telling me that she already talked to the bank and let them know what she was doing. I convinced her to take cash with her too – not to rely just on the card.

    And lucky I was home on day 3 of the week cruise since the Card company called about suspicion activity on the card. It was an “automatic computer” going through the charges and I was able to hit “1” to say these charges were OK – but if I was not home – or worse on vacation with her, I’m guessing her card would have stopped working by day 4….. even though she also made sure to let them know that she would be using the card out of country and more then usually with the normal “No Problem” response.

  19. Kurtz says:

    @wring: Traveler’s checks can be a major pain. Some foreign banks charge a commission for cashing them, and others won’t cash them at all. It took over an hour to change them in Bulgaria, when it would have taken less than two minutes to pull the same amount from an ATM. Spending four bucks on a foreign ATM transaction sucks, but it’s worth the time I save.

  20. gingerCE says:

    When I traveled overseas last year, I had about $300 in cash I exchanged at the airport before boarding the plane. Yes, the exchange rate is lousy but I had trouble with my ATM card overseas the first couple days so the cash totally saved me.

    Heck, when I went to NYC I carried around at least $300 in cash–taxis and street food add up. My best friend had $800 in cash she was carrying around just for taxi fares.

  21. Cerb says:

    Travelers checks are a pain in the ass, no one who travels regulary uses them anymore.

    You should never travel with only one form of money though. I usually bring my atm card, credit card, and have at least 300$ in US dollars hidden as an emergency fund (I don’t touch this money unless I absolutely have to).
    Travelling is some countries can definitely be a hassle. In parts of both Indonesia and central america I’ve discovered that the local bank won’t take my cards and the nearest ATM that will is hours away. Thats when the hidden cash comes in handy.

  22. riancurtis says:

    God wants you to stay in your hotel for at least one day on your honeymoon. It is called consummation. :) BoA was only helping you fulfill this.

    Japan was a really fun choice for a honeymoon.

  23. chemicalx9 says:

    I took my BofA debit card to Italy in 2006 and it worked like a charm. Granted I had a credit card and cash as well because I wasnt going to rely on one form of payment.

  24. johnva says:

    @DeltaPurser: Also, frankly, I don’t believe the claim that he couldn’t reach customer service due to the time difference. I know for a fact that BoA has customer service people on the phone 24 hours a day. Maybe he didn’t find the right number, but they do have one.

  25. Cerb says:

    Also, keep in mind that if you are using the cash as an emergency fund, you don’t necesarrily have to exchange them for local currency. In most of the world, people will take US dollars.

  26. Crumbles says:

    @ShortBus: Um, ironically you try to be a bad ass and talk about “reading comprehension” when you yourself failed to read it correctly.

    He said they each had saved up $2,500, for a total of $5,000.

    But thank for playing ass hat.

  27. misokitty says:

    @speedwell: When I went to England I had some travelers checks that I exchanged for cash at the airport and at Paddington Station while in London. I also had my debit card which I used to make various purchases and to withdraw cash. The thing that made me nervous about the debit card was the exchange rate because I never knew exactly how much money I was spending. (this was before I had internet banking) I never had any problems with my debit card but this story shows that you just never know.

  28. nacio says:

    Wow, why are people seriously relying on debit cards? Let me remind you that you have protection with that. Don’t expect it to work like a credit card. Take it as a serious lesson learned.

  29. glorpy says:

    What about the 3% foreign exchange fees that you were forking over with each and every ATM transaction.

    For that matter, you’ll also find the collect call 24/7 Bank of America support line at the top of the page when you click Contact Us at the top of the front page.

  30. velvetjones says:

    @speedwell: bring an american express. in fact when you’re traveling abroad carry a personal amex and a visa/mastercard of some sort. that way if you lose one you’re not dead in the water.

  31. AstroPig7 says:

    @johnva: If fraud protection is truly an automated system, then there should be a way to make exemptions in it. Systems of this sort are constructed by people, so it’s not as if we lack control over them. What’s the point in talking to a bank beforehand if they can’t do anything about one of their automated system? That’s like a designated driver being arrested for stealing their friend’s car because the cops can’t do anything about their ownership check system.

  32. deweydecimated says:

    I have never had a problem exchanging travelers checks in UK banks, even in small towns. I would avoid the currency trading kiosks in airports because their exchange rates tend to be less favorable. You can also buy your checks in pounds sterling, which will lessen your hassles when you use them – you won’t need to exchange them for cash before shopping.

    Cerb, as the dollar has been declining in value against the pound and the euro, I’m not sure merchants would be as thrilled to take US dollars now.

  33. DeltaPurser says:

    @johnva: Good point… Just further proves that this guy is looking to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  34. elislider says:

    they should demand compensation for this. if there trip was 10 days, demand 1/10 of the total cost of airfare and hotel stay. this is completely riduclous

  35. mjsager says:

    What I take away from this is something everyone here at the consumerist already knows, that the information you get from a business today isn’t reliable.

  36. @ClayS: Sense isn’t common

  37. elislider says:

    i also somehow didnt catch the last paragraph, so glad they got compensation. at least there are a few good CSRs at BoA. i havent had the good fortune of talking to any of them though. i had issues with BoA a few years back when i went to europe and the tellers at my local BoA assured me i wouldnt have any problems and there wouldnt be any fees or anything. i get back and find out every time i used one of my cards, i was charged $5 by BoA and whenever i used my other card i was charged a % of the charge, per charge. they refused to refund any of it and told me i was lying when i said that they told me there would be no fees. i pointed out the teller in specific who told me and the bank manager said i was lying.

  38. johnva says:

    @AstroPig7: There IS a way to make exemptions. My guess is he was NOT flagged just for making purchases in Japan, because they probably did put that flag in his account. He may also have been flagged because he was making purchases in a much different pattern than usual. For example, he may have been spending money at a much higher rate than normal or at different sorts of businesses. This is what I meant when I said that they don’t know what kind of transactions will trigger it. He may have told them he was going to Japan, but maybe did not specify all the different sorts of things about his spending pattern that would be different. The only way the bank could totally ensure he would not be frozen is if they either disabled the security screening entirely or totally anticipated exactly what type of transaction he planned to perform (which they can’t). This is why they are in a no-win situation. I see people whining about their card getting frozen for fraud protection constantly but usually they don’t understand how the protection works.

  39. mikeluisortega says:

    Whats with the debit card people? This is one of those you should have know better stories, was the guy 16?

  40. Amnesiac85 says:

    @DeltaPurser:

    They told BoA weeks before hand that they would be in Japan making large purchases. Both of them did. The bank had forewarning. And yet when BoA told them it would be okay, that was just a straight up lie.

    Get real? How many stories do we read on here about customers wasting MONTHS waiting for customer service to get back to them. A day is lucky. It is ridiculous. I guarantee you a day wasted on your honeymoon is a the day that may very well stick out to you the most down the road.

  41. johnva says:

    @Amnesiac85: Read my post above.

    Also, if it was so important to him, shouldn’t he have had a plan B (like NOT spending their last bit of cash once they realized their cards were frozen)?

  42. Buran says:

    @speedwell: If your mind is made up against using credit cards on an international trip, then your mind is made up to be a fool. Highly recommended that you swallow your pride and maybe even prepay to the card the amount you plan to use so that it’ll behave like a debit card since it’ll draw from the prepaid amount.

  43. Buran says:

    @johnva: Like rely on the kindness of strangers to give you free stuff? That kind of courtesy died a long time ago. Sad but true.

  44. cacic says:

    I just had the same problem with my Gold American Express. First they stopped approving transactions because my card was being used on the way to Florida. Got it back up and running for about 36 hours before they began declining it again. At this point they requested 3 months of bank statements and three years of tax returns faxed to them before they would budget. They told me the sooner I sent it, they sooner they could review the account. They estimated 48 hours, it took a week. They have now restored the account but I’m not sure I want it. Too much aggravation. This account is a year old and I had just paid a $6,200 bill before leaving on this trip. The bill is routinely high and has always been on time. So much for no pre-set spending limit. They abandoned me on this trip despite having used this card in Europe and other places. Why Florida and why now? No idea.

  45. forgottenpassword says:

    I used my bank’s credit card (commerce bank [midwest chain]) and travellers’ checks when I was overseas & had no problem. Never even had to contact the bank beforehand. I got my travellers’ checks at my bank, so maybe THAT is how they knew. *shrug*

    Note: I also had another credit card on hand as a backup.

    I agree that when a bank reassures you of something & then doesnt provide it … then they are at fault. And they should pay thru the nose to make up for it.

  46. overbysara says:

    aside from all the could have/should haves… frankly, if you call beforehand and tell your card company that you WILL BE TRAVELING to X country, which means your spending habits WILL BE UNUSUAL, then get declined when you get there because of your unusual spending habits – there is a problem with the system.

    There NEEDS to be flexibility in the system, and if a CSR tells you something we shouldn’t have to lose sleep at night because the CSR is just some kid that has no power in the system and most certainly told you something to make you happy and get you off the phone.

  47. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Actually buran, when i was in rome last may I un-knowingly hit my daily USAA debit card limit. I had some items being held at a gift shop in the vatican and my card was not accepted. I walked about 3 blocks away to an internet cafe to access my account. The balance was fine. I went to a cash point and tried to access funds but was declined. I tried to buy a damn phone card to call the states but the automated system was confusing and kept hanging up on me. Not only that, the crowds were thick with tourists and we all know what tourists bring. Like ants to a picnic I imagined pickpockets all around. Keeping my cool I went back to the shoppe and asked them if they could wait. They could. I did’nt want my card to be blocked and I needed more money still so I went to a phone booth again and was in the phone booth staring at st. peters when finally I snapped. I was tired and hungry and pissed that I put myself in this situation. Here I am, a faithful consumerist for life, and yet I gripped the proverbial tar baby of stupid decisions. Let’s not forget that I left my passport with the shop owner and they were closing in 30 min. I knew my passport was safe but still I was mad that I would do such a thing as leave my passport with strangers even though they were very likely good catholics. I began yelling at an operator then I slammed the phone back. I asked some young chap to my side and he shrugged and could’nt help. Finally this lady leaning up against a wall came over and told me to take it easy. She was from the states and just so happened to be a tour guide. She explained the phone card system is complex even for italians and not to worry. She dialed all the numbers for me and waited for the call to drop thru to the states. Hell, she even waited for the bank rep to come online and made sure I was in the right dept. She handed the phone back to me and I got it straightened out. The bank rep increased my ATM limit (I forgot to get it raised before I left the states) and even commented that she would notate on my account that the card would be used in europe just in case it raised a red flag. I was so relieved. I turned around and the lady was gone. I got the euros from the cash point and made it in time to get the gifts. Afterwards I treated myself to a gelatto and was sure to make a toast to strangers and the kindness they can bring. Rare as they are they do exist.

  48. arcticJKL says:

    The opposite happened to us on our honeymoon in Scotland. BofA, the backup card, worked. The other card didnt give us money at ATMS but we could use it as a credit card.

  49. Cerb says:

    @deweydecimated:

    This is true, but I wasn’t advocating using the US dollar as your primary funding. I was talking about using it as an emergency fund.

  50. Buran says:

    @BeFrugalNotCheap: There are exceptions. They’re just far too rare.

  51. scoopjones says:

    Important lesson to learn – better to be safe than cheap. Get travelers checks and have both cash and credit cards on hand too. My dad learned this the hard way on our recent trip to China. Fortunately, I was along and had done all three, so we were covered.

  52. NoWin says:

    @Crumbles: that’s not how I read it: I took at as they BOTH (as a couple) saved 2500.

  53. dualityshift says:

    @ShortBus: And an F- for comprehension for you.

    They both saved $2500, which was their spending money. The trip would have cost more than $2500.

  54. ampersand says:

    Next time you’re traveling out of the country (or, hell, even within the country), take a real credit card. Better yet, take two.

  55. ClayS says:

    @Buran:
    We’ll be looking forward to his letter to the Consumerist detailing his tale of woe.

  56. Antediluvian says:

    I know what it’s like to have a trip ruined from an unexpected problem (had my camera stolen with all my exposed film), and can totally sympathize with wanting to stay in your hotel rooms doing nothing.

    So this is more advice for the future than criticism of the past, and I’m probably writing it more for myself.

    If it happens again that you’re out of money for a day, put some room service on the hotel tab so you’re not worried about food.

    Then, go do something free (or nearly free). Ask the hotel clerk for ideas for free activities. Ask a stranger. Ask a waitress at a coffee place. Find someone who speaks your language and ask them.

    Try these ideas:
    Shop — but don’t buy.
    Go to a mall.
    Sit in a park.
    Wander around the streets.
    Go inside a church, respectfully.
    Visit a local version of something back home if you’re in another country and see how it differs from yours. Like how a Japanese Home Depot differs from a US one. Go to a local supermarket and look at all the different food, produce, and other products.
    Browse a bookstore, even if you can’t read a word of the language.
    Visit the truly local tourist attraction that no one else ever visits.

    But don’t stay in your hotel room and mope, as difficult as it might be.

  57. dabitch says:

    This is why i frickin’ LURVE my bank. I closed all my other bank accounts when I was 18 and moved all my cash to one bank, so I’ve had my money with them for some time now. Once when I travelled a lot, they actually phoned me up to check “are you really in Holland right now, ‘cuz we see cash being withdrawn on your card.. Just wanted to check because you were apparently in Denmark yesterday”…. Now they’re used to me, I guess because they never call anymore when I do that. ;) Also, I’ve been able to bank over the internet with any bloody browser I want since 1997 – unlike some other banks. Meh!
    SEB – formerly known as Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken , I love ye!

  58. ginger_t says:

    @shortbus: Fail at reading comprehension. Mentioned in the submission: “We both had saved about $2,500 to spend on our ten day trip.” Now assuming that they spent all $5,000 on their trip (one must read into word problems) …$2,500 x 2 = $5,000; $5,000 divided by 10 days = $500 per day. BofA credited them $300, thus $200 more would have been appropriate.

  59. Major-General says:

    @ShortBus: If you read a little closer, that was $250/day per person.

    On a trip with a friend of mine to Europe a couple years ago, he spent a large part of his cash in Amsterdam, and wasn’t worried because he was going to have his BoA card, and was having a deposit come in that would provide him with more money.

    We get to Munich, and he checks his balance, which was only up like about $100, instead of the $800 or so it should have been. Calls the 24 hour number, where he’s told he has to speak with fraud. Who say they’ve put a hold on the deposit.

    Then they say, “Oh, well you have $100 available in your account.”

    “Yes, but I’m in Europe another three days, and that’s about €70.”

    Ends up that he didn’t get it taken care of until about 6 pm local time, and had to call an entirely different number to talk with fraud who said the hold was placed because the deposit was made earlier than it should have been. (Some stupid thing like that.)

    Moral of the story: a laptop with Skype is a Godsend.

  60. l0stn0tfound says:

    Protip: When you’re traveling internationally, do some research on your destination country before you go there. If they had done this, they would have known that Japan is a cash-based society. Not to mention the fact that they -only- brought debit cards. Poor planning on their part in my opinion.

  61. jenny79 says:

    @speedwell: I had money converted over here before I went to London last December. There were ATMS as the Minneapolis airport that would spit out Pounds, Euros, Canadian Dollars or yen.

    PS
    I took about 200 pounds and that worked out pretty well.

  62. bossco says:

    Get travellers checks when abroad. I wouldn’t trust my american bank to be there fro me when I wasn’t near a branch. It’s pretty normal with credit cards to be frozen when charges show up from thousands of miles abroad. Still, if he did call customer service to ask, they should have let him know what may happen. Boo to bank of america and their CSR team.

  63. gr8chief says:

    “We ended up having to spend an entire day sitting in our hotel room doing absolutely nothing waiting for their customer service department to open. “

    Nothing? Hey dude weren’t you on your honeymoon?

  64. johnva says:

    @jenny79: You can also usually get cash in a foreign currency from your local bank if you ask for it in advance. I asked them to get me some yen, and they called me about 2 days later once they had it at the local branch. I went in, wrote a check for the equivalent amount in U.S. dollars, and they gave me the foreign currency. Very simple, and no fees. Exchange rate good enough that it doesn’t matter much.

  65. FinanceGuru says:

    @johnva: Gosh, I was waiting for a Blame The Poster comment and you obliged.

    Thanks so much.

  66. johnva says:

    @FinanceGuru: You’re welcome.

    There is a difference between a legitimate and illegitimate gripe. A lot of this guy’s problems were created by himself and not his bank. It seems to me that they really went above and beyond already by giving him a hefty statement credit for something that wasn’t really their fault (his being stranded without money, and not being able to figure out how to call their 24 customer service). So I don’t feel they gave him bad service, either.

  67. BlazerUnit says:

    At the risk of siding with the Consumerist Victim-Blaming Choir, I think the couple could’ve planned a little better.

    If this were a regular domestic trip in the U.S. or a U.S. territory, one could have easily gotten away with what they did. Going to a foreign country with a foreign language and a foreign currency totally changed the game up. Between the two of them, I’d have brought a mix of U.S. cash and traveler’s checks along with my MasterVisaCard check card.

    And it probably would have been worth it to take any burn on currency exchange. I mean, it IS your honeymoon and not some everyday buisness trip.

  68. Elvisisdead says:

    USAA. I’ve used my debit all over the world without a single problem.

  69. Tallanvor says:

    @speedwell: Seriously, you should have at least one credit card for emergencies. Especially in a foreign country.

    Check with your bank before you go to see if they have agreements with any of the banks in the UK. –I bank with BofA, and I can use Barclay’s ATMs without being charged $5, and Barclay’s doesn’t charge any fees either. You still pay the exchange fee, but that happens with most credit and debit cards.

    I’ve been living in the UK for 15 months now, and travel in Europe for work. I’ve never had BofA freeze my card.

    One thing to be careful about. If you are outside of the tourist areas, some of the shops and restaurants won’t swipe cards anymore since Europe has switched to the chip & pin concept, which really isn’t more secure, but the banks like to pretend that it does, even after researchers demonstrated how to hack the readers.

  70. XTC46 says:

    @Rachacha: heh I was thinking the same thing…

  71. Amy Alkon says:

    @wring:

    the bank will KILL you with atm fees!

    Actually, you just have to find out which bank is a satellite of your bank back home. In France, Banque Paribas charges no fee for Bank America customers at the ATM.

    Beyond bringing a debit card, I never travel without a credit card and a couple hundred in the cash of the region. Actually, I bring three credit cards, just in case. I always call to tell my bank and credit card companies I’m traveling (exceptionally annoying), but realize that they are in the business of making a profit, not customer service, and expect screwups. Hence the backups.

    Also, because I go to the same place frequently (in my case, Paris), I buy enough Métro tickets that I’ll have a few for my first day back there, when I’m jetlagged, and need to take a bus or train to get to my friends’ for dinner. I also bring home enough in euros for a taxi, plus a little extra. You don’t want to be changing money at the airport, jetlagged, either. So, maybe you lose $10 doing it at Thomas Cook. Small price to pay for lack of aggravation after you’ve just stumbled off an international flight.

    Another tip, in case your pocket gets picked, do NOT leave your essential stuff from home (Driver’s license, library card, insurance cards, etc.) in your wallet as you run around a foreign city. And do find out whether you’re covered on your American health insurance, and to what degree, and decide whether you want to buy a travel supplement.

  72. jimda says:

    let me get this right; you are in a hotel room, on your honeymoon, and for ten hours you can’t figure out what to do? you should’ve brought me along, i could’ve made some suggestions, plus i would’ve had some cash

  73. algodard says:

    Has anyone here ever tried cashing traveler’s checks in japan? not as easy as it sounds. every time i needed to it involved about 40 minutes at a bank with a language barrier, filling out forms in japanese and a lot of bowing.

  74. ARPRINCE says:

    And yet, you still bank with them. *shakes head*

  75. robertseaton says:

    “nothing to do in our hotel room for a whole day on our honeymoon”…

    Shit… I don’t see this one lasting too long.

  76. Canoehead says:

    @speedwell: If you insist on being a luddite (no credit cards) then go old school and get some travellers checks – if you are a member of AAA then you can get them fee-free – if you don’t use them, you can just deposit them into your account.

  77. pneuskool says:

    The Japan release of the Wii was in December of 2006, not March. Did he forget his wedding day?

  78. peteyale says:

    They left me stranded in Santiago, Chile. I’m still stranded here actually… It’s been 3 weeks and I still haven’t able to access my money. Luckily, my parents were able to wire me some money. I’m still waiting on BoA to do something though, as I’ve called them several times over the last few weeks.

  79. It literally just took me 1 minutes to find 6 27/7 customer support numbers on their website. I mean, sure, if I was stressed out maybe “contact us” wouldn’t seem logical but there is even an international collect number.

    Plus if you are relying on this one form of payment wouldn’t you write down the numbers to call for situations such as this?

    Also depending on the kind of hotel you’re staying at the concierge can often help locate telephone numbers.

  80. irishharp2m6 says:

    Almost the SAME exact thing happened to me. I called BoA a month in advance to tell them I was going to Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and then Paris for a total of 3 1/2 weeks. Everything was fine from Berlin to Cologne……but then when I got to Paris the atms started declining my card.

    I went to their website at a pay by the hour internet cafe and found some phone numbers to use………and I couldn’t get any of the international toll free numbers to work (and they weren’t that easy to find either.) Fortunately my friend that I was with had a different bank and had some extra money to loan me so I can eat and have a few drinks.

    Basically they ruined the Paris part of my trip.

    Shawn

  81. Alger says:

    @BlazerUnit: Well, yes, on the one hand, they could have handled this better — with better planning, and a better decisions once the problem cropped up.

    On the other hand, once their bank told them that they wouldn’t have a problem accessing their funds on the trip, then the bank takes on quite a bit of the blame.

    And telling them, afterwards, that they should have brought a card from another bank as a backup? That’s asinine.

  82. satoru says:

    Very peculiar because I did the exact same thing in Japan and I had no problems taking out even $1000 at a time. I withdrew the money at the Citibank at the airport. Then I did it again in the Ginza Citibank. Can’t imagine why they had such big problems.

    I can only think that maybe they were using their BoA debit card as a credit card as well in Japan? I suspect this only because they seemed to not have any other backup cards from the way the story seems to pan out. Having a backup card is a pretty good idea in any case. I usually take 3 cards with me on trips. My BoA debit card to take out money. An Amex and a Capital One Visa to minimize my foreign exchange fees for credit transactions.

    My only gripe is that Capital One is very anal about using my card overseas. I usually call ahead just to let them know. I’ve never have to call ahead with my Citibank or Amex cards oddly enough.

  83. Alger says:

    @algodard: Were these traveller’s checks denominated in dollars or in yen?

  84. satoru says:

    @k8supergrover: Well asking the concierge might seem like a good idea. But let me tell you that English communication in Japan, even at fancy hotels, can be an exercise in futility.

    I have used this to my advantage on occasion. Once I wanted a King of Fighters promo poster. But asking in Japanese never got me anywhere (I’m 100% fluent in Japanese and English). So one day in Osaka I decided to just ‘play dumb’ and ask for the poster in English. The clerks were pretty much trying to figure out what I wanted, took em like 15 minutes between 2 of them. Finally I got it, and I even offered to pay them something, but they just gave it to me for free. So sometimes it’ll work :P

  85. PeteyNice says:

    I really don’t see how you can blame the OP. What is he supposed to think? “Well the bank said we would be fine but banks are just lying SOB’s”?

    This does give me a chance to say something nice about First Union/Wachovia who have never given me any trouble using my card internationally. I always call before I go and they are great about noting my account and telling me if there are any free ATMs where I am going. I lived out of NatWest ATMs in England for 6 months because of this.

    If international travel is a regular thing with you I would run away from BoA. If it happened once you know it will happen again.

  86. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    @Buran: Indeed. Far too rare. I was lucky.

  87. dieman says:

    Also used my USAA cards in 4 continents without any problems. Asia, South America, Europe, and North America. Never a problem, exchange rates were generally reasonable. The ATMs in Brazil rock, they tell you what the exchange rate is before you make the transaction — if you take out more cash at once the rate you get is much better.

  88. Cycledoc says:

    Traveler’s checks are no longer an efficient choice for in many places you get a worse rate than when changing cash. Changing dollars may cost you as much as 10% of their value depending on exchange service used. Similarly using a charge card in some places overseas incurrs as service charge which may be as high as 10% (Tanzania).

    By far the best choice is the debit card and in this case the couple appear to have a valid gripe since they informed the bank of their plans.

    I use USAA and have had the experience of having charges denied when they think it is not typical behavior of the account. But I’ve never had a problem if I notify them of my plans.

  89. Kn10 says:

    Ok, this article kind of annoys me. Nearly ALL travel books (and travel agents) say that Japan is mostly a cash only society. In fact, many cards are incompatable with Japans systems. Its only in the center of big cities you can use them. Yes, it sucks that the Bank of America blocked them, but they should have taken responsibility for this as well. I travel overseas just about every year and I have been to Japan many times. I always carry at least 3 grand cash (hidden of course) just incase anything happens. These people get no sympathy from me.

  90. clevershark says:

    I don’t know that you can’t rely on one card (I had no problem with my bank-issued card in Japan). It’s pretty clear, however, that you can’t rely on BoA…

  91. whtzitallabout says:

    I have BoA and have never had a problem with traveling. On one trip I went from Europe to Africa and back again, all within the space of 3 weeks, and no problems. Later that year I lived in Germany for 6 months…still no problem.

    My secret? I go INTO the bank. The tellers are usually very helpful and friendly, sometimes if I ask they will even show me the notation made on my account.

    It costs me nothing but a little time, and I have a particular person to speak with upon my return if anything went wrong.

  92. tcp100 says:

    All the “don’t blame the ‘victim'” people. please. Are you serious? BoA did more than they had to by crediting this moron.

    I don’t care what the nice lady at the bank says, when you’re thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country – even if the president of BoA is your uncle – you always have to have a plan B.

    Shit happens. This young “world traveler” was just as ill prepared for a rip in his pants that made his wallet fall out as for the eeeevils of BoA.

    I know there’s a huge naive contingent here who thinks than anyone with a problem against a corporation HAS to be right and is being “screwed by the Man”, but this couple was plain stupid. NO cash reserve? NO credit cards? NO travelers check? Not even a debit card from another bank?

    ONE, SINGLE PIECE OF PLASTIC TO GET THEM TO, THROUGH, AND BACK HOME FROM JAPAN?

    Even before credit cards, when traveling abroad, you’d keep some extra cash hidden in your shoe or a belt or what not in case your wallet got lost or stolen.

    Who’d this guy blame if he dropped his wallet somewhere? I can see the consumerist headlines now:

    “Gravity Stranded Me In Japan!”

    Hell, when I go to another CITY where I don’t have family I keep some backup cash somewhere else hidden on my person, just in case.

    It’s really strange how so many folks here instantly say a company like BoA is EEEVIL! for doing things like fraud shutdowns, but you don’t have even a bit of scepticism when a $12/hr CSR tells you “Oh, no problem, there’s absolutely zero chance you’ll have any problem using your DEBIT CARD as a sole source of funds in Japan.”

    If you guys think big corporations are so evil, maybe you should learn that not everything they say is going to be 100% true, and can’t be 100% true, since even if the CSR is telling you what she knows to be the truth, shit happens.

    Is nobody a boy scout anymore? BE PREPARED!

  93. Kendra says:

    Banks will strand you any chance, for any reason.

    Always budget yourself, rely on credit card as well, take cash as backup.

  94. viviennet says:

    @speedwell: I’d like to ask a few things…

    1) Where in the UK will you be based? If you’re out in the sticks, I would suggest taking lots of cash as you’ll be hard pressed to find places to exchange any travellers cheques or US dollars. If however you find yourself in London, then my next query might help you out a bit.

    2) Who do you bank with? For example, Citibank and HSBC are both incredibly well represented in the UK. The only thing you’ll be hit with is a less than desirable exchange rate. Then again, it won’t be any worse than the likes of Thomas cook of Foreign exchange when you get there.

    3)I think someone might have suggested getting a debit form of an American Express card. DON’T DO IT. Amex is not accepted universally in England, in fact, most places will tell you they accept, Visa, Mastercard or even Diner’s but they will not accept American Express.

    Hope that helps and have a great trip!

  95. lucabrazi says:

    sounds kinda off to me. I’ve spent lots of time in Japan with my BoA atm working without a hitch. As long as the bank atm you’re using is part of the visa network you’re ok. Remember back in the day when not all ATMs were part of the same network here? Same thing.

  96. jonack says:

    so you’re saying you sat in a hotel room for an entire day, on your HONEYMOON, with nothing to do? Hmmm, sounds like you need to be a bit more creative!

  97. Mage1129 says:

    No offense, but when traveling you have to have at least a few methods of payment at your disposal. Even though it was definitely BoA’s fault, you need to take extra care when traveling abroad, in the possible even thtat something like this happens.

  98. MYarms says:

    They had a whole DAY to do nothing. You should have used that “wasted” day to check out the local scenery. You don’t need money to have fun. Typical American.

  99. uberbucket says:

    I had all my money sent to a construction company in Mexico once. Not on purpose mind you, it was my bank’s fault,(Wells Fargo). I ask them why the transaction didn’t send up any flags, see as every last cent of my money was transferred to another country, a place I have never been or had business with. They informed me that I could have been on vacation and that they have no way of differentiating my activity in another country, from a fraudulent transaction. It took a month to get the money back into my account and in the interim I was hit with $400 worth of overdraft fees, something I was never reimbursed for.

    I now bank with a local credit union and am quite happy with it.

  100. wesrubix says:

    In other words: single point of failure.

    (PS Credit card > debit card in this situation)

  101. Iskandr says:

    Wow $250 a day in Japan, I just want to know does that include money for hotel or is that all for fun and food? Not counting hotel expenses (it’s nice having friends all over the world) I lived on $50 a day the last time I was in Tokyo, if that even, and I had a blast. Sucks that they froze your credit card, but I’m sure you could have found something to do other than “sit” in your hotel room.

    Maybe next time carry a small bit of cash or traveler’s checks. I think one of the places I went to in Tokyo only charged me Â¥3 on the dollar, and when I went it was Â¥118 to the dollar so not to shabby.

  102. Iskandr says:

    oops debit card not credit card

  103. garmento says:

    @Kn10, et al.
    OK, there, big ballers! I am sure there are many people who do not have multiple credit/debit cards and $3,000 in disposable cash to carry around with them. These two newlyweds both saved $2500 (I assume that is their combined savings, but feel free to give me an F for reading comprehension). Yes, I did shake my head at certain parts of the story (e.g. still purchasing when both cards were declined *slaps forehead*), but it is not fair to assume that the newlyweds have the financial portfolio that you do.

    @velvetjones
    I do not have a personal Amex, but my colleagues and I have an issue with our Corporate Amex cards in Tokyo virtually every time we go (even though Amex is prealterted to our travel plans).

    Regarding Bank of America, they apparently DO have a 24 hour customer service line for fraud protection (it’s an 866 number, to my recollection). My issue is that it is not printed on the back of my card. I had an issue this past Christmas…on December 23rd, I was gift shopping. I made three purchases less than 5 miles from my home ($75, $100, $175). When I tried to make a fourth purchase of $740, my card was declined. My principal issue with Bank of America is that, in my experience, the card authorisation reader usually says “CALL BANK” when there is a fraud suspicion and I usually have to speak with an account rep at point of sale. In this case, I had been waiting on a ridiculously long line (yes, feel free to say I should not leave my shopping until the last minute) and was incredibly flustered knowing that my balance was over 4 times the purchase amount. The sales associate let me step aside to call BOA; it was 5:45 on a Saturday and their CS line was closed. So, I used another debit card to complete my purchase. I then tried to use a BOA ATM, which gave me an accurate balance and would not allow me to withdraw funds. There were no messages left at either phone number I have on file with BOA. I called them the following morning and the CS agents made it seem like it was my fault: apparently, I was supposed to KNOW the 866 number that has 24-hour access even though it was not printed on my card and I could not seem to locate it on their website.

    Apparently, (I cannot attest to the veracity of this statement), if you call the main BOA CS number and select “Lost/Stolen” card option, if you tell the voice recognition system that your card is Lost/Stolen, they transfer you to a live agent. Um, why would I say my card was Lost/Stolen if it was in my hands and how was I supposed to know that doing this would connect me to a live agent? :) Anyway, two of the BOA reps made me feel like I did something wrong. I was flustered and felt it was irresponsible of BOA to freeze my accounts without even calling me or giving me an opportunity to verify my purchases at point of sale. The BOA reps did not see it my way…when I asked them to waive my monthly maintenance fee of $5.95 as a mini-apology, they refused. HAH! They did offer to have the “corporate office” send me a letter of apology. Um, yeah, that and $2.00 will get me on the subway. I guess I need to take a course in dealing with CS reps since I seem to get nowhere with BOA.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL FOR fraud protection, but the bank cannot freeze accounts leaving a customer with virtually no way of reinstating them.

    Sadly, I have had NO issues using my HSBC debit card in a foreign land, but I will be canceling my accounts with them (since their lax fraud protection department did not notice that I was making purchases in Astoria, NY and $3000 in cash withdrawals in Spain on the same day).

  104. RKIL says:

    I have zero sympathy for you. It was poor planning on your part, and it was for 1 day, I mean, I’d say that wasn’t so bad, you just didn’t think about bringing cash.

    Ive had the exact same experience as you while I was in Shibuya and yes I bank with BofA. I went into a Citibank to use their ATM. After I got declined, I asked to use their phone (instead of a phone card) and dialed the number on the back of my card. After awhile we straightened everything out and it was taken care of within an hour.
    Sorry but you shouldn’t have relied on your card and yes there is a daily limit. Next time you’re overseas, bring cash.

  105. Techguy1138 says:

    @speedwell:
    Exchange BEFORE the airport talk to your bank and buy currency ahead of time.

    Have around a days worth of cash on you for emergencies in addition to your spending cash

  106. deverbative says:

    I normally side with consumers but in this case I think traveling outside the country without a backup plan was not wise. Being in an unfamiliar place without some kind of safety net is just not a good idea (not even necessarily a foreign country, just going cross-country/out-of-state you should have a backup plan.) I do think BoA screwed up and I think the bank could’ve been more helpful, but I am saying it is the travelers’ fault that they only had 15 dollars and were stranded. Any number of things could’ve happened that they didn’t plan for, natural disaster (Japan is prone to earthquakes isn’t it?), stolen debit cards, etc. You never know what to expect! A couple of hundred dollars in cash or travelers checks would’ve prevented this (even if the exchange rate sucks) it’s better than being stranded.

  107. RandomHookup says:

    One simple thing almost killed me back when I ended up spending 2 months in Europe for work — the ATM keypads were upside down compared to what I was used to and didn’t have the traditional alphabet to help me out. And then my bank had only 800 #’s on everything (including 411 when I called). But I did have plenty of credit cards…just no cash.

  108. Techguy1138 says:

    I not to long ago travled to japan.
    He is my traveling advice.

    Exchange currency at your local bank before you go. I was able to get very close to the LISTED exchange rate. Currency conversion kiosks take a hefty chunk out of your transactions.

    Banks do not work the same all over. In Japan I found atms were treated like BANKS. This means they closed at night ,weekends and on holidays. Don’t expect foreign countries to work the same as the US.

    Credit cards are not accepted everywhere. Sometimes only national cards are accepted. Bring cash everywhere you go.

    Bring extra US cash with you. When I ran into trouble and needed some extra yen,the atms were closed, My foreign,US, checks were no good. Lucky for me I had extra US cash, in case I got stuck while in the US. I exchanged that with no issues.

    Call your banks and bring with you international numbers for help and the directions on how to dial them. I had a heck of a time trying to call my travel agent from a pay phone in the airport.

    Have extra food at all times. Sometimes bars and food places close. Flights can get delayed and you can get hungry. A few bags of crisps or a can of spaghetti can come in real handy.

    Have a buddy or family member than can wire you money if you need it. My parents are good about holding money for me just in case of emergency during my travels.

    If all else fails talk to the US embassy. As long as you speak English they will get you some kind of help.

    Somehow I doubt anyone will read this being post 106 and all.

  109. Blackneto says:

    I’m very anti-credit cards.
    but i still have one for use when we travel.
    when we get back, if we’ve used it, back into the safe it goes and we pay it off.

    to me the rewards, points and all that other stuff are just garbage on a personal card. It’s a scam to catch the unwary and make you feel good about making the card issuer rich.

    Now on my friends company card they are great. he runs a concrete company and pays for his concrete with it every day, thousands of dollars, they fly 1st class everywhere.

  110. PDX909 says:

    This happened to me in the UK. The best advice I can recommend is to take the number of your local bank branch with you (or look it up online) and call that number. Even if you’re calling out of business hours you will be transferred to the 24 call center. I’m amazed that banks don’t support their customers travelling overseas better than they do, it really can be a scary experience, being stuck abroad with no money.

    One other point to note is that most UK retailers now use ‘chip and pin’ card readers (an embedded security chip in the debit card) at point of sale and are really reluctant to process foreign ATM/Debit cards that don’t have this feature. Best to take a well known credit card with you, or at least some emergency travellers checks

  111. Kevmas says:

    Ouch. I am very happy I dumped Bank of America long ago.

    I also use a well-established local credit union. BofA, Wamu, and Wellsfargo have all screwed either close friends or family. Shame on them too, they should be able to out perform the local credit unions, but for some reason they seem to stumble out the gate.

  112. algodard says:

    @Alger:
    They were in yen. i was doing it at a bank where I had an account, not at a hotel. They were very polite, and it is my own fault that I couldn’t speak the language, but the process took forever.

  113. bonzombiekitty says:

    Add me to the “What were you thinking bringing one form of payment?” crowd. I can’t totally blame BoA that the cards got a hold put on them as it’s hard to say exactly what triggered it, and frankly I’d feel a bit safer knowing the hold was put on the card.

    But really, when I travel I have –
    Two credit cards (one in my wallet, one in my bag)
    One debit card
    A few hundred dollars in traveler’s checks (dispersed between my wallet, carry on luggage, and checked luggage.
    A small amount of local currency.

    Should the hold have been placed? Probably not, but it’s still no excuse for bringing one form of payment. what if something happened to their cards (lost/stolen)?

  114. Leah says:

    That’s quite strange. I’ve never banked with BOA, but I’ve banked with several other places (notably, Washington Mutual and a local credit union). On my way to study abroad for 4 months, I actually called *on the way to the airport* to put a note on my account. I’ve not ever had a problem using my cards all over Europe, Latin America, and SE Asia.

  115. JoeWoah says:

    10 days in Japan for $2500, after air and hotel I presume, for 2 people is really good. Sucks on the lost day, but it’s your honeymoon… I’m sure the day wasn’t totally lost!

  116. choinski says:

    Before going to Japan the guidebooks warned us: Japan is mostly a credit-card free society. It also mentioned Citibank was by far the best represented ATM.

    However, Citibank froze our card after our first withdrawal as part of their ‘Fraud protection’, and it took a few days to lift. Furthermore, since cash advances are limited on our card, I was paying off the card by the internet from BOA to Citi. It took 4+ days for transactions to clear. On top of that, the international fees were pretty steep.

  117. jamar0303 says:

    Eh… if you’re going to be in Japan wouldn’t it be smart to get a JCB card? I think if any card’s going to be widely accepted and usable it would be that, right?

  118. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    Another suggestion is when you call your Bank or CC next time, of this kind or issue or in general, give them your cell phone number for the file too.

    We had a problem with a CC company thinking fraudulent charges while we were on vacation. They called our house, then my cell phone. I verified we were on vacation and everything was fine – no loss of service at all.

  119. mzs says:

    Yeah when I go to Europe I always get a bunch of cards. You can check the back to see which systems they use in ATMs, make sure you have a smattering of different ones. That way you’ll have at least something that works. I have had cards stopped for fraud prevention like this as well. The first time it happened I needed to get a phone card but was told they only sell them in Post offices and it was a Saturday evening, but since I had other cards it was no big deal really.

  120. dieselbug says:

    @speedwell: The use of “chip and pin” credit/debit cards in the UK means that you’ll only likely be able to use ATMs or Travellers Checks on your travels. Interestingly, I see everyone mention travelling with US$ checks – you can buy UK Pounds Travellers Checks here and take them with you – they’re as good as cash over there, and you don’t have to find somewhere to change from $ to £

  121. LyriCali says:

    I left Bank of America when I was 18. I have never come back to them. Thank God

  122. consumerd says:

    @Rachacha:

    “We ended up having to spend an entire day sitting in our hotel room doing absolutely nothing…”

    I am sure that if I were on my honeymoon I could have thought of at least one thing to do ;-)

    You and me both, I could have thought of something to do with the wife! I could make it a 24 hour thing! As a matter of fact we did that one day when we were on our honeymoon in Texas.

  123. burgerdog says:

    That same thing happened to me three months ago. I have been to Tokyo many times and never had issues with my B of A card working in the citibank ATMs, then, on my most recent trip, the only one which I had actually informed B of A that I would be in Japan for the specified dates, my card got shut off nearly upon arrival.

    I was fortunate enough to have enough cash on hand to last me until I could call them, but it was nonsense as someone had specifically entered in “this guy will be in Japan on these dates” into their system (i hear it’s a large dry erase board).

    So next time, i’ll go back to my old system of just not telling B of A where i’m traveling, which has worked for all my previous trips.

  124. almk says:

    Wow, I’ve had a lot of problems with BOA, but we went to the UK for 3 weeks this summer and didn’t have any problems using our debit cards for withdrawls. It’s very handy that BOA actually has a partnership with Barclays Bank, so we didn’t incur fees from using an out of system ATM. We did, however, also bring a credit car along. Another solution to this problem might be having a relative wire you money? I also got the international customer serivce number from a bank rep before I left.

  125. freedom69 says:

    you did all the right things by informing the bank in advance and talking the fraud dept. advising that you would be traveling. If i were you I would find out who the incompetent ass was that blocked the account. Or if the note was even placed. How dare they ruin one of the most important moments of your life. I would make a presedential complaint.

  126. LorenaMessene says:

    Actually, it’s an ongoing problem for BoA — their customer service is utterly lousy.

    As was pointed out in the original post, the 24-hour line’s staff pretty much denied having the ability to fix the problem, even though they did.

    Thus, it’s their fault that so much time was spent trying to get the problem fixed.

    Meanwhile, having been in Tokyo…I’m thinking, “Wow, I could feed myself for a couple days on $15!” No, not kidding; I fortunately like noodles, and knew where to find a 99Y store.