PSA: Don’t Leave Home Without At Least 2 of These

This “don’t leave home without two of these” story began when I received an email from a friend. It was titled, “Big Request.” Let me start by saying my friend is an experienced traveler and spends six months a year in Mexico, yet still she made a big mistake. Here’s what she wrote:

“I have a big request for you: My Capital One Visa credit card was hacked, so I had to cancel that account. However, that is an important card for me to have in Mexico, because they do not charge a foreign currency exchange fee on purchases. So, they are sending me a new card in the mail, and say it should arrive in 4-6 days. Capital One does everything online and it was difficult to tell them to send it here to Mexico. Please check all mail from Capital One, find the card, and FedEx it to me here in Mexico. I am sorry to burden you with this, but there are levels of bureaucracy involved here that are daunting.”

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It took 7 days for the card to come to her home in the states. I sent it via FedEx to her the next day. It never came to her FedEx center and they couldn’t seem to track it down. Because of the tracking issues, she asked me to take a photo of the shipping receipt and send it to her. Finally I got this email almost three weeks after this saga started:

“The card came today. It had been stopped by American customs. None of the labels were attached to the envelope. It looks as though Customs took it and then gave it back to FedEx, who likely sat on it a while. The topmost note on the envelope was a label describing how many times I called, along with an odd notation of a future date for an office hold. It’s crazy!!”

My friend was feeling so stressed out by all this so I didn’t want to point out the obvious. I kept thinking to myself, who travels with ONLY ONE credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign currency fee?

So please don’t forget, we all need to take at least two on every trip. We need to take two ATM cards as well. I have a great strategy for this!

Is paying a foreign transaction fee the worst thing in the world? Absolutely not. But it is disappointing when we end up paying fees when an ounce of prevention by carrying two credit cards with no foreign fees can prevent a pound of fees :) Has this ever happened to you? Share your stories in the comments below!

9 thoughts on “PSA: Don’t Leave Home Without At Least 2 of These

  1. Jeremiah

    Question: how much was she buying that foreign transaction fees were less cost/trouble than FedExing a replacement no-FTF card?

    1. Shelli Post author

      Great question, Jeremiah. Mostly clothing, I think. I also think she thought that FedExing the card would be easy and go much more smoothly than it went. And once she started down that road she wanted to see getting the card to its final conclusion.

  2. TimmyD

    More importantly don’t travel with fewer than 2 ATM cards, as most places I’ve traveled to make it hard to use credit cards for most purchases. ATM machines often get compromised, causing your bank to cancel your card. When we were in Roatan, Honduras, locals told us not to use any of the ATM machines downtown, as they were especially risky. But we only had a car one day during that trip, so we had to use the downtown ATMs. As expected, our bank quickly discovered some funny behavior and shut a card of ours down.

    1. Shelli Post author

      I’m with you on this point, TimmyD. A compromised ATM happens all too often. Thanks for reading and taking the time to remind us about two ATM cards.

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