Taking your holiday money: what do you do when your cards are stolen?

Most of the time it’s fine to take a few cards and maybe a travellers cheque with you on holiday, but what do you do if you run out of money when you’re abroad or if your cards/cheques are stolen?

It’s safest to work on the assumption that your cards and/or cheques will be stolen and prepare for that. The way to do this is to keep a note of the card numbers, expiry dates and cancellation phone numbers for each card that you are taking with you. For the travellers cheques you need to note down the cheque numbers and the date & place that you bought them. Take one copy of the note of these details with you (separate from the cards, of course) and leave one behind with a friend or family member. It’s best to cut down on the number of cards too and go with the minimum which is three: one Visa, one Mastercard and one more for when the other two are stolen (keep the third one separate from the other two).

When they are stolen, you just go through the details and call to cancel the cards and cheques. The cancellation numbers are usually reverse charge numbers ie you won’t have to pay to call the banks. It’s useful to look up the number of the international operator and/or AT&T direct number for the countries in which you’ll be on vacation in advance.

In theory, cards can be replaced abroad within 24 hours but this depends on your card, your card company and the banking system in the country in which you’re on holiday. The best cards for replacement are gold/platinum ones but unfortunately they’re also the most attractive to thieves.

However, some countries just aren’t up to replacing cards quite so easily though a combination of language problems and primitive banking systems. Nobody who has stayed with us and had a card stolen in Prague has ever managed to get it replaced whilst they were there.

So what do you do if the card company can’t manage to replace the card? That’s when you need to look into how to get money to yourself from home and there are several ways of doing that which I’ll be covering next.

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