The One About a Blocked Credit Card Abroad and What to Do

 

So, we’ve been stuck in Medellín for more than a week now because of a blocked credit card but it sounds worse than it is. Actually, it’s great to be stuck in Medellín. It’s the first time since Bangkok that I enjoy a city so much. Sure, Medellín doesn’t have a very pleasant recent history and there are still some no-go zones but it’s not as bad as a lot of people think. We haven’t had any negative experiences in the six weeks we’ve been here… erh… except for the blocked credit card abroad situation…

The epic views in Colombia…

The epic views in Colombia…

A blocked credit card abroad: The consequences

It’s almost impossible to travel without a credit card because you can use it in pretty much any country. At first, that sounds like a good thing, right…? Until they block it. I’ve never had any problems with it until two weeks ago. I wanted to book an AirBnb online but the website didn’t accept my credit card anymore. No problem, I thought. Maybe it’s just a temporary problem. Nope. The same day, I received an e-mail from Amazon KDP, where I sell my books, that my account was put on hold because there was something wrong with my credit card.

Do you see what’s happening there? It’s not until they block your credit card, that you realize how many online accounts are linked to it. Over the next few days, I received more e-mails from online accounts that were put on hold because of the blocked credit card… My domain name provider. Squarespace, who hosts my websites. Amazon and… What!? Netflix? Please, no! Not Netflix!

The most annoying thing is that they don’t let you know that they blocked your credit card. You have to find out when using the card. They could get yourself in some very annoying situations… On the other hand, I get it and I appreciate it that they look out for suspicious transactions. That was what happened and why they blocked it. I appreciate even more that they pay you back the amount of the suspicious transaction.

Anyway… this was the ugly situation: Most of my online accounts on hold and some only accepted credit cards.

How to get a new credit card in a foreign country

Patience and suffering. Yep, that’s what it takes to get a new credit card in a foreign country, especially Colombia. First, I had to call the people responsible for blocking my card and it’s not easy to make a cheap call to Europe from here. It took a lot of patience and money to call them and ask what I was supposed to do. First I had to decide if I wanted to cancel the card or risk it and unblock the card. They suggested to cancel the card and get an emergency credit card. They could send it within 48 hours to the AirBnb here in Colombia. All I had to do was call a number in the US to request one. So, I spent the whole Friday calling that number and no one ever picked up the phone. The whole day, I was calling “outside office hours”… Emergency, eh?

It actually didn’t matter in the end. I found out that you can only use that emergency credit card for some specific things. It’s wouldn’t be the same as a normal new credit card. By the way, they would send that new credit card to my address in Belgium, which is my parents’ address. That would take around a week. OK, so, I was able to wait for a week until the new card arrived. But then what? The only option was send the credit card to Colombia through the postal service or a courier service.

We’ve tried the mail before to send a SIM card for my phone to Colombia. They said 6 to 10 days about three weeks ago. It still hasn’t arrived… So, the only option was to use a courier service. Yeah, it costed a lot of money but in South America, it’s the only way to know for sure that it will arrive safely. My mom sent it on Friday and it arrived the next Tuesday. So, we had to stay an extra ten days here in Medellin to get a new credit card.



Conclusion

If you’re traveling long term and your credit card gets blocked, don’t bother to request an “emergency” credit card. Call to cancel the card and wait until the proper one arrives automatically in your home country. You then have two options. Activate your card and send it with a courier service or send it like that and try to activate it the country your in. Both have disadvantages. Sending an active credit card is not advisable but my bank told me there was no way to be sure that it would be easy to activate it here in Colombia. So, I took the risk and made a video call with my bank to activate the card and then got it sent with DHL… it arrived without any problems.

 
TravelJoris Hermans