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Credit Card Travel Alerts: How to Set Them (and Why You Might Not Need To)

Learn how to set credit card travel alerts to avoid denied purchases when you use your credit card on trips.

When you’re planning for a trip, especially an international one, you already have a huge to-do list.

You need to confirm your hotel plans, pack, check-in for your flight, and plan your activities for once you land.

The last thing that you want to happen when you arrive is to have your credit card declined.

Card issuers are constantly watching for fraud and taking steps to block scammers from using your card without your permission.

One common tactic is watching for unexpected changes in the location where you use your card. If you travel somewhere and use your credit card, your card issuer could decline it because they think s fraudster stole your card info.

Is there anything that you should do or a way to tell your card issuer when you’re traveling to make sure they don’t block your credit card?

What Are Credit Card Travel Notifications?

You can give your card issuer a credit card travel notification to help avoid having your card declined.

Basically:

You’re telling your card issuer that you have travel plans, so it knows not to decline your card during your trip.

For example, if you live in Colorado and plan to fly to England, you’ll contact your card issuer and tell them when you plan to leave and when you plan to return. If the card issuer sees charges from stores in England during your travel dates, it will know they’re legitimate.

Some card issuers let you provide travel notifications through your account portal on the issuer’s website.

Usually, you’ll find the option somewhere in your account settings or personal information page.

However, things have changed:

Many card issuers don’t request, require, or even accept travel notifications anymore.

They rely on other methods to anticipate upcoming travel plans.

Why You Might Not Need to Set Them Anymore

Card issuers use multiple strategies to figure out when your traveling, even without providing a notification.

You booked travel on the card

One way that card issuers can tell if you’re planning to travel is based on your shopping habits.

If you book tickets for a flight using your credit card, your card issuer already knows that you have travel plans.

This is also true if you use your credit card rewards points to book your trip.

Since your card issuer can tell that you have travel plans based on your purchases, you don’t need to tell them about your trip.

The location of your card activity

A more subtle way for the card issuers to figure out your travel plans is based on other purchases you make.

Let's say:

You buy something at the airport just before you leave, your card issuer can probably guess that you’re about to get on a flight.

If your shopping habits change to include shopping at stores that people frequently use to prep for a trip that can also tip off your card issuer.

You're a frequent traveler

Card issuers also use your long-term purchase and travel history.

As a frequent flier, your card issuers probably expect you to travel on a regular basis and won’t worry about charges popping up from around the globe.

Travel Alerts for Top U.S. Card Issuers

Here are how some of the top card issuers in the US let you set travel notifications.

American Express

American Express doesn’t require travel notifications.

You don’t have to contact the company before you travel, but if you want to, you can do so by calling the number on the back of your credit card.

Bank of America

Bank of American doesn’t require travel notifications.

The bank does offer a set of advice for people travelling internationally on its website.

If you want to notify Bank of America of your travel anyway, you can do so by calling the number on the back of your card.

Capital One

Capital One says that you do not need to inform the company of travel plans because it now issues chip-based credit cards.

If you still want to let the company know, you can call the number on the back of your card.

Chase

Chase accepts travel notifications from its cardholders through its website.

You can set the notification up to a year in advance, making it easy to set the notification when you book your flights.

To set your travel notification:

  • Sign in to your account and open the menu on the left side of the screen.
  • Open your profile and settings
  • Select more settings, then travel
  • Click update
  • Provide information about your destination, departure date, and return date

You can also call the company to set up your travel alert.

Citibank

Citi lets you set up travel notifications through your online portal

To set the alert:

  • Visit the travel alert page
  • Click Set Up/Manage and sign in to your account
  • Select your card and click “add a travel notification”
  • Tell Citi who will be using the card, where they’re going, and the dates of travel

You can also reach out to Citi by calling the number on the back of your card.

Discover

Discover does not require travel alerts from its customers, but you can always call the number on your card to let them know anyway.

Make Sure Your Contact Info is Up to Date

While it’s always important to make sure that your card issuer has your contact information, keeping your contact info up to date is doubly important when you’re traveling.

Your credit card issuer might not contact you frequently, but one of the times that they’ll want to reach out is when they’re trying to verify whether a purchase is legitimate or not.

If you’re traveling and your card is declined, you may receive a call from your card issuer asking you whether you tried to make the purchase.

If you say yes, they can unblock your card instantly -- letting you complete the transaction.

This can save a lot of time compared to you having to call the card issuer, navigate a phone tree, wait on hold, and explain that you were the one trying to make the purchase rather than a fraudster.

Taking a few minutes to update your contact info with all your card issuers before you travel can save you some headaches down the road.

It’s also a good way to make sure that your contact info is current so your card issuers can reach you, even when you aren’t traveling.