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Things don’t always go according to plan when you’re travelling abroad. Sometimes that’s okay, as a little spontaneity can be fun and brighten up your trip. But when that unplanned event involves you losing your credit card, it can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your primary means of accessing cash.

A credit card is very convenient to carry on your trip: they are convenient, flexible, allow you to accumulate rewards points and book services in advance, and charge little or no foreign exchange fees. But what should you do if your card goes missing overseas?

What to do if You Lose Your Credit Card Overseas

If you’ve lost your credit card, here are the three steps you should take immediately:

1. Notify Your Card Issuer 

Your first priority is to contact the financial institution that issued your credit card. Provide as many details as possible to the representative you speak to, including the date and time you noticed your card went missing. Most financial institutions have a 24-hour toll-free number you can call.

2. Cancel or Lock Your Card

Naturally, you may be concerned about an individual making fraudulent charges, so blocking access to your card is crucial. Luckily, a common security feature that card issuers are implementing on their mobile apps is users’ ability to lock their credit cards at their discretion. When you contact your card issuer, be sure to ask them if this feature is available, so you can lock your card right away and then reactivate it should you subsequently locate it. If your card issuer doesn’t offer this type of service, the next best alternative is to have them cancel your card, thereby eliminating the risk of fraudulent transactions. 

3. Call The Credit Bureaus

After restricting access to or cancelling your card, you should contact the two nationwide credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, and have them put a fraud alert on your credit file. You should also examine your credit report right away to see if any fraudulent charges got through before you blocked or cancelled your card.

For the next few months, keep a close eye on your credit reports and billing statements for any suspicious activity. Notify the credit bureaus if you discover fraudulent activities, such as new accounts being opened that don’t belong to you. Report any unauthorized transactions to your card issuer as well.

Getting a New Card

Obtaining a new credit card is a relatively straightforward process. Once you contact your card issuer, have them cancel your missing card and request a new one. You’ll receive a new credit card number to use without having to close your existing account. You can also elect to cancel your old credit card and open a new one.

Before creating your new card, your financial institution can review the most recent transactions on the one that went missing; they can help you dispute any fraudulent charges so that you won’t be responsible for paying them. Once complete, they will issue a new card for you and mail it to your home or current overseas location, where it can be picked up at a local branch, should one be available. 

Additional Tips on What You Should do if You Lose Your Credit Card Overseas

  • Keep a record of everything – Ensure you keep detailed records of every action you took and every person you spoke to after realizing your card is missing. Document your conversations with your card issuer, the police and credit bureaus, noting the dates, times, and context of the discussions.
  • Update recurring payments – Once you receive your new credit card, register it immediately with your online banking and automatic bill payments. Contact any businesses that you have automatic billing set up with as soon as possible and have them update your account with your new credit card details. 
  • Have a backup plan – Consider bringing a second credit card with you on your trip as a backup. Your backup card should strictly be limited to emergency use only, so choose a basic one with low fees and a low credit limit. Another way to access cash is to utilize a payment app, such as Google Pay or Apple Pay, linked to your checking account, savings account, or another credit card. You can use these apps to make purchases while overseas – just ensure you’re aware of which merchants accept this payment method. If you don’t have a backup credit card or payment app, your last option to acquire cash is wire transfer. Before departing on your trip, create a list of trusted individuals who can wire money to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a lost credit card affect my credit score?

No, a lost credit card will not affect your credit score. Your account age and transaction history will remain intact and transfer over to a new credit card issued by your financial institution. However, if you fail to report your lost credit card and don’t pay any fraudulent charges that occur, this can hurt your credit score. 

If someone makes an unauthorized transaction with my credit card, will I have to pay it?

The Canadian government has placed a maximum liability of $50 on individuals who’ve had their cards stolen and charged with unauthorized transactions.

How long does it take to get a replacement for my lost card?

The length of time you can expect to wait for your new credit card to arrive depends on who the card issuer is, but it’s usually between 7 – 10 days. You may be able to use free expedited shipping (sometimes overnight), so check the credit card issuer’s policy. Some issuers charge a delivery fee, while others don’t offer expedited deliveries at all.

Final Thoughts

Though it’s not fun to lose your credit card while you’re enjoying your vacation, it’s easy and effortless to notify your card issuer, have your card blocked or cancelled, and request a new one. You can complete the entire process over the phone, and rest easy knowing fraudulent charges won’t ruin your credit score. 

Mark Gregorski avatar on Loans Canada
Mark Gregorski

Mark is a writer who specializes in writing content for companies in the financial services industry. He has written articles about personal finance, mortgages, and real estate and is passionate about educating people on how to make smart financial decisions. Mark graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with a degree in finance and has more than ten years' experience as an accountant. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.

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