My Bank Froze My Debit Card: Now What?!

By Caitlin Hornik

Declined. Frazzled, you look at the cashier and ask him to run your card again. Your heartbeat pounds in your temples and you feel beads of sweat forming on your forehead as you anxiously anticipate the second slide. Declined. Again?! How can this be? You politely apologize and ask him to try one more time. You start questioning whether or not you actually called your bank before you left on this trip when… Declined. Now you’re in a full blown panic. You’re at a market in Belgium with limited cell service and a debit card that won’t work. What do you do?!

For starters, take a deep breath.

It happens to the best of us. Just think of it this way: Your bank is protecting you. Maybe they know you’re traveling, maybe they overlooked the note on your account. Either way, they’re doing what they believe is in your (and your wallet’s) best interest. Here are a few helpful tips if you ever find yourself in this situation.

“But I called them and told them I was traveling!”

Of course you did, because you’re a confident and prepared traveler. Even still, any reputable bank will monitor your account for fraud-like charges. Anything they deem questionable will result in a temporary hold or freeze of your card. Most of the time, it’s a quick and relatively painless fix.

Check Your Phone

Depending upon the bank you’re with, they may send you a text when they decline a charge. If there’s any doubt as to whether you’re the one trying to make the purchase, they’ll freeze your card and sometimes even text you. If your card is frozen, find some WiFi and check your texts and emails ASAP.

Call Your Bank

Seems like a simple solution, but sometimes it’s easily overlooked because of a lack of cell service. Switch your WiFi Calling on in your phone settings, and dial the number on the back of your card. Keep your fingers crossed for a solid connection and a short wait time!

Ask Your Hotel For Help

Hotels are a valuable resource when you’re in a jam in another country. Talk to the concierge and see how they may be able to assist you, or offer a suggestion. At the very least, they may be able to help you get in touch with your bank!

Use Another Card

If worst comes to worst, you can try a different card and worry about the freeze later. Of course, if the frozen card is your only card, maybe you should find a way to contact your bank. But if you’re lucky enough to have another card to use, go for it!

Don’t let the stress distract you from your amazing trip! Try to remain calm, despite the embarrassment or frustration you may be feeling, and know that you’ll totally laugh about it when you get home.

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