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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Communicating with financial institutions is an important step before going on vacation.
  • Bring a backup credit card, turn on notifications and avoid accessing bank info in public. 
  • Know how to report lost/stolen cards and how to communicate with your bank quickly.

Time to Read

3 minutes

July 15, 2022

Getting ready to jet off to a much-deserved vacation? Going out of town for a few days? Don’t forget to arm yourself against credit card theft and fraud on your travels by taking proper precautions to keep your cards and account safe and secure. In a few simple steps, you can get yourself and your cards travel-ready and prevent headaches that can arise due to lost, stolen or locked-out credit cards. 

Step 1: Inform Your Financial Institutions

Whether you get there by plane, train or automobile, make sure you tell your card issuers where you’re going and how long you're traveling, so they can be on guard against unauthorized transactions. Be sure to provide the location and dates of your travel, including stopovers if you'll have connecting flights. Doing this before you leave can prevent red flags from springing up when you start making purchases outside of your usual geographic area.

To get yourself (and your credit cards) ready for travel, Navy Federal Credit Union members can sign in and add a travel notification to the card they plan to use. You can also choose the travel notification option on the Navy Federal mobile app.* 

Step 2: Set Up Travel Safeguards

When traveling, carry at least two cards so you have a backup option in case one gets lost, stolen, damaged or closed temporarily. It’s good practice to carry your primary card with you whenever you’re out and about and to leave the backup card in your hotel room or wherever you’re staying. Make sure the backup card is in a secure place, such as the hotel safe or in a locked suitcase. 

It's also a smart idea to turn purchase notifications on while you’re traveling. While it might seem like a minor annoyance to get a push notification after every meal or shopping trip, it’s worth the peace of mind. If you misplace or lose your card, these notifications will instantly alert you to fraud, so you can alert your bank and freeze the account. 

Step 3: Protect Your Cards and Data

Traveling also means leaving behind the secure networks you use every day at home or at work. You might find yourself checking your bank information or logging into an account while on a public network. Use caution when banking online from a Wi-Fi hotspot, hotel business center or other public facility, as their servers may not be encrypted. 

Conducting your banking from your smartphone via your bank’s mobile app offers a more secure option when you’re traveling. Just be sure your phone is password-protected and you’re using your wireless carrier's network.

It's also important to be mindful of common scams and situations where your credit cards or personal information might be at risk. For instance, avoid using standalone or unusual-looking ATMs not located in secure areas. Navy Federal has branches and ATMs worldwide; scope out the nearest ones to your destination and use them with confidence.

Step 4: Know How to Report Problems

In 2021, there were roughly 54,000 reported cases of credit card fraud involving vacationers, amounting to about $95 million in fraudulent spending. 

In the event your card is lost or stolen—or you notice unauthorized transactions on your account—immediately contact your card issuer to report it. Be prepared with a list of card issuers' fraud hotlines along with your account numbers and keep it in a secure place separate from your wallet. To alert Navy Federal of your travel plans, or to report a lost or stolen card, you can call us 24 hours a day at 1-888-842-6328

Some toll-free numbers may not work overseas; check that you have the right numbers before you leave. If the country you are traveling to is not listed, you can reach us collect via a local operator – our number is 1-703-255-8837.

Extra Credit for Your Next Vacation

As you plan for next year’s getaway, take advantage of all the savings opportunities and rewards programs your financial institution offers. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or an annual vacationer, choosing cards that offer travel rewards and no foreign transaction fees, like our GO REWARDS® or Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards cards, can help you get where you’re going faster. 

Stay safe this summer and start planning now to maximize your fun-in-the-sun next year!

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Inform card issuers of your vacation plans (dates and destination) and how to reach you. Make a list of card issuers’ fraud hotlines and your account numbers, and keep it in a safe place.
  2. Choose which cards you’re going to bring on vacation (primary and backup). Make sure you set a travel notice on these cards and that you enable purchase push notifications from the app(s).  
  3. Remember to conduct online and mobile banking from secure web connections or your wireless network only. Always use banking apps if possible and log out as soon as you’re done checking your information.

Disclosures

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.