Nowadays most credit and debit cards come with in-built international usage facility. Of course, there is a small change in the rules. Effective 2020, RBI has allowed fresh cards to be activated only for domestic use. In case you want to use the debit or credit card for global transactions, you must give an application to the bank for activation. Alternatively, you can use your online internet banking interface to activate international transactions.
There is one more condition here. If you don’t use your card for international transactions for a prolonged period, the facility gets automatically deactivated. You need to check these things before travelling abroad as it may lead to unnecessary embarrassment for you. However, things can get a little complicated if you lost your card when travelling abroad. In India, it is much easier to get across to your bank call centre and inform them about the card loss. It gets a lot more complicated if you are travelling out of India. Here is what to do.
First block the card in your online app
Even before you intimate your bank, you must immediately block the usage of the card from your online app. This is a very simple process and you can do it with the click of a button in your app. In most countries, Wi-Fi connections are freely available across major cities and towns, so accessing the internet on your mobile phone is hardly a problem. This is the first step you must take to block your card online. In case you are having problem with the app, you can also block it via the internet banking interface, either using your tablet or your laptop. Either ways, the sooner you do this the better!
Next step is to inform the call centre in India
Remember, this can be an expensive affair, especially if you are on a metered connection abroad. The call centre takes its own sweet time to take down your request and in the process you may end up racking up a huge ISD bill. If you really don’t want to run up these bills, you can also use the WhatsApp facility or use the SMS method for blocking your card. These are equally effective and a lot more economical.
Now, how do I manage abroad without the card?
That is the million dollar question. Your card is blocked but what do you do now since you need to spend money for your needs. Most of the large international card issuers like Citibank, HSBC and American Express offer an Emergency Card facility when you are travelling abroad. Since these banks have a global network across most of the major cities in the world, you can approach the nearest branch and ask them for an emergency card to be issued immediately. That way, you are not stranded without the ability to use your card.
What is the liability in such cases of lost cards?
Many of the card issuers like American Express and HDFC offer additional checks for international transactions. For example, HDFC will only approve international transactions after the official calls you. You need to authenticate and approve the transaction on the phone. AMEX offers a facility where international transactions can be approved online on a case-by-case basis. Such arrangements make the card a lot safer for international usage. Here again, your liability is zero, once you report the loss of card but that can be quite time consuming in many cases if you are travelling abroad.
How to avoid the stress of losing your card when abroad?
Normally, card losses are never in your control. But you can take some proactive steps to avoid and reduce the stress of losing your card abroad.
Ensure two level authentication of your transactions abroad so that misuse of the card become impossible even if it falls into wrong hands.
When you travel abroad, spread your debit and cards in 3 or 4 places between you and your spouse. In such cases you always have something to fall back upon.
One of the best modes to use when travelling abroad is a pre-loaded forex card. You can use a hard currency card like a Dollar card or a Euro card. Since these are loaded in foreign currency, you don’t incur translation charges or additional transaction charges each time the card is swiped. That is a better choice than debit cards.
If you are travelling to less developed markets, be very cautious about where you swipe your card and ideally avoid using the cards at small outlets.
The last thing you want is your foreign vacation or your business trip abroad to be disrupted by the loss of credit or debit card. A bit of care and a bit of preparation can go a long way!