Warren Meyer says that if your kids are traveling, you should make sure they’re traveling with American Express:
I am a flaming hypocrite on this topic, because my company does not accept Amex, but for travel, particularly if it is a shared family card you are giving your kids, don’t use Visa or Mastercard. Most banks have systems now that are simply hair-trigger in freezing an account if they see a charge they don’t expect, which generally means a charge in a new city, i.e. when you are traveling. It is merely irritating on my own card, as I have to call and get it turned back on (which can be a pain in certain foreign lands) but it creates a real problem for my kids. Twice my son has been traveling and twice they have immediately shut down his card. When he called, they would not talk to him so he had to find me somewhere and I had to call them to verify a charge. But since I did not make the charge I have to call my son back and then call the credit card company back… In my experience, perhaps due to their background as a travel company, Amex is far, far less likely to have travel to new lands trigger these sort of pre-emptive account shutdowns.
I think I’ve had only one such incident with American Express, and they made a point of actually calling me before taking more severe action. What’s more, since then they’ve designated a couple of customer-service people to keep an eys on Twitter, not quite 24/7, but it’s better than a telephone tree.