I'm sure everyone that has a credit card for any length of time is familiar with the occasional headaches credit cards can provide. This guide will give you some tips on how to deal with these issues while traveling abroad.
Credit Card Fraud
The most common credit card issue we've encountered is fraudulent purchases. Thanks to stores like Target which have famously had millions "secure" credit card records breached by hackers, our credit card numbers are commonly used to buy all kinds of weird things by people all over the world. Frequently you know nothing about this until your credit card company calls you to ask about suspected fraudulent activity. In our case, we just happened to notice on our statement a purchase for a $100 Starbucks gift card made on the same day we were driving from Louisburgh to Dublin. I don't think we even saw a Starbucks in Ireland, so we definitely had no reason to go buying a $100 gift card!
In addition to this fraudulent charge, one of our other credit cards wasn't letting us even login to the website.
Time to call customer service!
Calling toll free US numbers while abroad
We looked online to see if we could call 1-800 numbers for free using our pre-paid French phone cards. The short answer is no, you cannot. Rather than having to worry about calling a US number from our local cell plan, or trying to find local French numbers for Chase and Bank of America, we simply fired up our VPN (read more about that on our VPN travel tip), launched Skype, and dialed the standard 1-800 numbers for customer service.
Once connected to customer service, obviously the experience is no different than if you were calling from home.
In the case of our fraudulent charge, Chase immediately canceled the card and said they'd send us a new one. After explaining the situation more, they were more than glad to send it to our address in France with expedited shipping. We received the replacement card just a few days later.
In the case of our other card which wouldn't allow us to login to our account, it was a result of us not setting the travel flag on the account. We hadn't planned on using this specific card while traveling, but when we were having an issue with a French store not taking our main cards, we tried it (unsuccessfully) as a backup. It may be worth setting the travel flag on all your credit cards you bring with you, otherwise it will just end up causing an issue if you try to use it.