Don’t let them leave home without it

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.


  1. Dan T. »

    11 February 2018 · 10:02 am

    Many banks and credit/debit card companies now have a feature on their website where you can list the dates and places of upcoming trips so they won’t flag them as fraudulent when they happen.

  2. McGehee »

    11 February 2018 · 10:57 am

    We don’t have Amex anymore, and we have had occasions where a charge got flagged, but they haven’t really correlated with travel. I should ask Mrs. McG if she’s been alerting the card issuers ahead of time about our plans.

    To me though, it kind of goes against the grain after decades of “don’t blab your travel plans, lest some would-be burglar know when your home will be unoccupied.” Then again, we do use a pet-sitter, so “unoccupied” may not quite apply…

  3. fillyjonk »

    11 February 2018 · 12:09 pm

    I’ve never had issues with traveling (then again, I don’t travel much or far these days) but I have gotten calls asking about things I have ordered. Apparently anything ordered from overseas can trigger an alert.

    (I once sighed and told the person, “If it’s a company known for selling books or yarn you can pretty much bet it’s me ordering it.” I mean, I thought in the Age of Surveillance they would at least know our buying patterns….I mean, if “they” know our every movement, they should know my various obsessions)

  4. JsAllison »

    11 February 2018 · 1:46 pm

    Bought a pair of hand carved grips for a pistol from a rumanian woodworker online. Nice work, good value. About 6 months later my credit union called, someone had tried to run a 1 euro purchase and they wanted to know if it was me. Nope, card can elled new card otw.

  5. CGHill »

    11 February 2018 · 2:53 pm

    There’s always someone out to get you, or so it seems.

  6. Holly H »

    12 February 2018 · 8:07 am

    fj is right, credit-card companies do track your purchases. At one time, they favored folks who purchased bird-seed, based on a study that found those folks to be the most reliable.

  7. Holly H »

    12 February 2018 · 8:07 am

    I’ll bet that purchasers of books and yarn would also be high on the good-citizen list.

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