Many holidaymakers will soon be jetting off for the summer, but before you go it's sometimes worth contacting your bank or credit card provider to let them know.

This may reduce the chance of your card being stopped abroad, but not every bank adopts this policy.

It's also important your provider has your correct mobile number in case it tries to call you to unblock a card.

Here's a Q&A to help you know which firms to get in touch with, plus further tips to facilitate hassle-free spending while away.

Why are cards sometimes stopped overseas?

When you're abroad, you may display an 'abnormal' spending pattern, so providers sometimes suspect fraud, which can lead to payments being declined or cards being blocked.

Sometimes the card provider asks a shop to call for authorisation but retailers often tell the customer their card doesn't work to avoid lengthy queues while they phone.

What happens when you call your card provider in advance?

Issuers have varying policies when you tell them you're going away. Your bank or card company will usually either:

  • Not register anything. This doesn't mean transactions will automatically get declined overseas, though it may happen eventually.

  • Put a note on your account. This will include details such as when you're away and where you're going. It won't prevent a red flag that triggers an authorisation request or decline.

  • Or, make a change to allow normal-looking transactions. This is often teamed with a note, and whether it's an account setting change, or some kind of flag on your account, this doesn't mean all transactions will go through automatically. However, it lessens the likelihood of a problem.

Is it worth calling my provider?

We have compiled a table of major card firms' practices below. Where firms do nothing or just put a note on your account, we have grouped those under the 'no' category as, in most cases, a call will not help.

This has changed since we last asked the same question in 2009 becuase some companies have changed their fraud settings so you no longer need to call them.

However, whichever category your provider is in below, ensure it has your correct mobile number, so it can get in touch if it suspects a suspicious transaction.

Should you contact bank before going away?
Provider Yes - it'll help payments go through No - makes little difference
American Express
 
Bank of Scotland
 
Barclaycard
  
Barclays
  
Capital One   
Halifax
  
HSBC
  
Lloyds TSB
 
Nationwide
  
Natwest/RBS   
Santander   
Tesco   
MBNA would not disclose its policy.

Should I take my banks' details too?

Yes – before you leave, make a note of your card provider's contact number. It is often found on the back of your card, though you'll also find it on a bill or online.

This way, if any problems arise, you can contact it to try to solve the issues as quickly as possible.

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