Travel Notification Oddity

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by othermike27, Dec 13, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. othermike27

    othermike27 Silver Member

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    This isn't a big deal in the world of signup bonuses, lounge access, manufactured spending etc., but I'm always interested to better understand the rules and motivations of the credit card programs we use. The following is specific to Chase, but might apply to any other card issuer where you hold more than one account (not AMEX since they don't want you to notify them of travel).

    After returning from Europe, I got an email from Chase saying that I no longer needed to give them advance notification of travel for my CSP card. Since the email made no mention of my other two Chase accounts, I asked whether they were also included. Here's what I got back.

    "As part of our continuous efforts to improve your experience with your Chase card, we’ve made an update to your account ending in [xxxx] and you no longer need to provide us with your travel information on this account. Let me assure you that we will continue to monitor your
    account to detect any suspicious activity and may still decline charges that appear fraudulent.

    Please note that not all accounts have been updated systemically for travel information. For your account ending in [yyyy] and [zzzz] you will still have to notify us with your travel information.

    If you have any further questions, please reply using the Secure Message Center.

    Thank you,..."

    So, if I'm traveling and plan to bring two Chase cards (quite possible since one is tied to a hotel program), I still have to notify them. I don't see how this helps them or me. Anybody else encounter this or have an explanation?
     
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  2. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    You never have to notify any bank, Chase or whomever else, of your travels. By doing so you merely reduce the risk of foreign activity triggering as potential fraud (and thus declining your transaction, making your card unusable until you contact such bank). I never bother with this, and it works out just fine (my once in a blue-moon fraud triggers tend to end up large online purchases).

    If you regularly travel, foreign purchases are likely entirely normal for you, so there really isn't that big of a risk of a flag on this or any other cards. This is likely just an automated message that noticed you called them several times (i.e. a cost) when they don't believe a foreign charge would be a likely trigger for you based on your card/spending patterns/etc.
     
  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    O.K., but if you don't initiate contacting your bank about travel outside of your "normal spending pattern", then you risk having your account shut down. This may result in a simple inconvenience (calling your bank from another state where you've rarely travelled) to a real pain in the butt (having to reach your bank from overseas when you need to pay your hotel bill right away in order to make your flights back home). :eek:

    Of course, individual experiences may vary, and it greatly depends upon which bank has provided you with their credit card. We do have one particularly aggressive bank credit card that has stopped our payments when they have seen out-of-state or abnormal charges that didn't jive with their algorithms of our spending behavior. Once we figured out that they're simply trying to prevent credit card fraud, we don't mind the occasional hiccups.

    IMHV, it never hurts to contact your bank ahead of time to notify them of your travel plans, especially if you're travelling out-of-country, and expect to use your credit card. I can relate that every time that I've called my bank to let them know that I'm planning on using my credit card while on an overseas trip, they've thanked me! And let's face it, it never hurts to be careful with the use of your credit card anyway, given the number of scams out there. ;)
     
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  4. othermike27

    othermike27 Silver Member

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    Exactly. I said "...have to contact..." meaning I want to avoid the possibility of a denial. I never bother with pre-travel notifications on domestic travel because a toll-free call should sort out any possible issues. But international travel usually involves a multi-time zone difference, more schedule criticality and potential language complications, so I call the companies that ask to be notified in advance. My local bank's ATM/debit card is very consistent about giving me Euros, Pounds Sterling, etc. for no fee, but they are also very consistent about shutting down cards that pop up in unusual places, or that don't get used for a few months. So I call them for sure and yes, they say thank you and have a good trip, etc.

    But all this really doesn't address my question. Since Chase fraud services seems to know about and keep watch on all the Chase cards I hold, why is the pre-notification relaxed for only one card and not all three of them? I doubt that I qualify as a "regular" international traveler: I used the CSP a few times on an earlier trip to Europe this year, and got the subject email after returning last week from a second European trip where I used the card once to open a tab, but then settled up in cash since I had tapped the ATM for too many Euros.
     
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  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    I would call and ask someone in person. And if I didn't get a reasonable answer from them, I'd ask to speak with a supervisor. I've done this before with a stopped-payment issue with another bank, and it worked. If/when you do receive a reasonable explanation for this occurring to you from a live body at Chase, please do post it here and let us know what it is! ;)
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I haven't notified a bank of travel plans in more than a decade. Never had any issues with any of my cards.
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    WA, would you care to share which cards/banks that you recommend?
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    My personal banking is with Schwab and Chase and I generally use Chase or AmEx products overseas. That's not to say I necessarily recommend any of them - they all suck in their own ways - but I've mostly been happy with Schwab as a bank option.
     
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  9. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    I nearly always notify my bank/card issuer when I travel, unless they specifically tell me not to. AmEx has a notice buried somewhere in the FAQs on their website saying you don't have to notify them, for example. If I'm going to be away from home overnight, I call/e-mail/secure message. It's a pain in the a**, especially with BofA, where you have to go through one of those damn automated phone trees to get to a live person, but it's better than taking the risk of having my card shut down.

    Having said that, I have forgotten to notify BofA when making domestic trips on two occasions and didn't have a problem either time, so I suppose it's not absolutely necessary. Still, better safe than sorry is my preferred course.
     
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  10. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    Other than the time/inconvenience of making such notifications, yes, there is no downside. With that said, I've never informed a bank of my travels - it's just too much of a hassle. So far I've yet to get a single decline during my travels.

    If it ever starts being an issue, I can always choose a different bank, but it hasn't come to that. With that said, even abroad should this happen - it's not a big deal. Any large bank will happily take your call collect 24/7. If you don't want to call them, just carry cards from two separate banks - chances of both banks being suspicious are much lower.
     
  11. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    Similarly use Schwab for my primary bank. Wonderful to have free ATM access worldwide and their general fee schedules are very reasonable. (About the only downside for me is lack of cash deposit options.)

    I generally use Chase/Citi/CapitalOne/Amex abroad.
     
  12. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    If you're using a card from a smaller credit union or the like, I can certainly see the hassle. If you're worried about Chase - they'll happily take your call in English any time of the day. If your phone isn't set up for international roaming or you don't want to pay for the call, there's a collect number on the back of your card (bypasses all the menus), and it's easy to find a sheet of local 800 equivalents to make a collect call before you travel so you don't even need to talk to place the call.

    As far as why this card - I don't think about it as an actual relaxation of any rule. There is no hard and fast rule about what will be deemed suspicious - it's just a large data set of past shopping trends combined with some machine learning. For a person who never leaves their state, a small bank maybe had bad experiences with random charges on the other coast when there weren't any charges for airport locations preceeding them. Maybe for the person who shops at Nordstrom regularly, a several hundred dollar order from Walmart is unusual (more specifically such charges may have been disputed with higher frequency in such past cases), etc. The only thing I would read about that email is that for that particular card and for your history with them, they think the location of the charge is an unlikely fraud trigger, so they don't want you to waste their agents time on the phone (or combine that with some customer-friendly marketing about innovations in security). You may not have gotten such an email for other cards for any number of reasons, such as:
    -their system only sent it for the most actively used card to avoid spamming you
    -they made a decision to proactively sent out these emails only for some specific cards they market towards travelers
    -likelihood of charge location being a fraud trigger on that specific card is lower than on other cards, and only that one is below some threshold
    You can call and ask, and you may get a plausible sounding answer, but you almost certainly won't run into anyone answering the phone who has the definitive correct answer to this question.

    I'd personally just go on your next abroad trip without notifying chase about your travels. Use your cards as you normally would. For extra precaution, bring a card from a different bank.
     
  13. othermike27

    othermike27 Silver Member

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    All of this makes excellent sense, and I generally concur with your reasoning. My only question is: why this one card, and not the other two? All three of my cards are travel-related or offer obvious travel benefits: CSP, UA MP/Select, and Hyatt. Moreover, I'm the same "me" waving all of these cards at merchants wherever I am, so if Chase has a unified fraud detection/tracking/oversight unit, I would expect a single policy for all cards I hold. Since they seem to have something else in place, I'm curious to know what their rationale is. Am I chasing down a little blind alley - very possibly. But sometimes when you tug on a little thread, much more interesting stuff unravels.

    Like I said, this is not a biggie, and it won't keep me up fretting about anything. I particularly agree with your observation that phone CSR's are not likely to have the sort of information I'm looking for, which may be system-driven or policy-driven. That's why I posted here to see what the community knows.

    Oh, and about the system's automated emails: Chase has you file a single travel pre-notification on their website that covers all your cards, which is smart. Then you get a "fraud alert" email a couple days later to close the loop just in case you didn't make the request: you call them, or just ignore the email if the request was legitimate. I got 3 emails - one clearly identified for each card. So let's not give their system credit for too much smarts.
     
  14. disambiguous1

    disambiguous1 Silver Member

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    Before I started bulking up on rewards cards, I used a small local credit union for my debit and credit cards, and it was a good thing I did during a trip to Italy. My backup wallet with a debit card that was NOT activated in Europe got swiped (note to fellow travelers- avoid the Circumvesuviana commuter train line between Naples and Sorrento at ALL COSTS-- if you are on that train and you aren't a pickpocket, you will be a victim). Because I have been banking at that credit union for decades and all the personnel knew me by name and voice, all I had to do was call them and tell them what happened and everything was shut down immediately. All the thief got was about 12 euros and a useless piece of plastic (though I did regret the loss of a nice wallet). Since the card had not been activated for use in Europe, even if he had run like lightning to the nearest department store he still could not have purchased anything with it.

    Note that the other (un-stolen) credit and debit cards from that same credit union had to be activated for use outside of the U.S. before I left. That was a simple process and it was comforting to know that the credit union had my back while I was away from home. I had that other card with me in case something happened to the other ones, and a simple phone call would have activated it if required.

    Rewards cards from big corporations are nice, but whenever I head out to parts unknown I still carry cards from that credit union. The fact that I'm a volunteer member of their security committee doesn't hurt either. There's something to be said for local people who know you and trust you, even if you don't get any mileage rewards for using them. -DA1
     

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