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Can a Lost Credit Card Ruin Your Holiday, and What Can You Do About It?

Here we discuss how a lost or stolen credit card can have a huge impact on your travel plans.

· travel tips,Travel Problem,lost credit card

We recently blogged about ‘The Lost Credit Card Conundrum and 4 Tips to Avoid It When Travelling Abroad’ , so here we discuss how a lost or stolen credit card can have a huge impact on your travel plans in more detail, and also explain how different types of insurance and credit card protection can help in these moments.

Hotel Reservations

Many hotels will authorize a charge a few days before your booking, or take a pre-payment deposit a few weeks in advance of your stay. It’s easy to forget about these pre-authorized charges to your cards, especially if you’ve faced the stress of having to cancel your cards due to a lost or stolen credit card. So what does this mean for your reservation?

We scoured travel boards and chat rooms to find stories of travellers experiencing just this problem. We found that some hotels did not notice the issue until after the guest had already checked in, but then immediately called to the room for details of the replacement card. While this is not a situation to ruin your stay, it certainly adds an extra level of stress to your plans, and might mean an inconvenient or even embarrassing trip to reception to rectify the situation — guests at the Marriott group have reported that all that was needed was a new, valid card at check-in. It’s worth noting that in some situations your bank might deal with this directly: if the card has been cancelled, and all services moved to a new card, the bank might simply move the payment request over to the new card too — check to see if your bank offers this service when cancelling your credit card to see if future payments are protected. Yet we did find that many hotels will cancel your booking entirely if unable to processes your card before your trip, so do remember to update your booking details as soon as your card is cancelled — some guests have experienced cancelled reservations at Hampton by Hilton, for example, yet most Hilton hotels do allow you to edit your credit card information right up until your booking date. Of course, you should always check your hotel terms and conditions when making a booking.

However, what if your credit card is lost or stolen while actually travelling to your destination? Some hotels require that you pay with the same card that you used to book the room, so third-party services like suggest that you should always telephone the hotel if you wish to pay with a different card, and check that this is okay in advance to avoid problems.

Transportation and Picking Up Your Travel Tickets

For train travel, many companies allow you to pick up your travel tickets at automated machines at the station you’ll be traveling from. Convenient, yes? No so much if you lose your credit card. Most of these automated machines only allow you to collect your travel tickets if you have two things: a travel reservation number and the credit card you used to book the tickets; without this card you are unable to pick up these tickets.

Even more inconvenient, some airlines like EVA Airlines, Turkish Airlines and flydubai, and train companies like Deutsche Bahn, require that you carry the card used to book your tickets with you throughout your journey. While you will still be able to travel on most services with this requirement, travelling with a different card from the one used to book will usually require you to fill out a forms to notify the company of your new card details, leading to inconvenient delays. You should check the terms and conditions of all carriers before booking to avoid common travel problems like these.

Credit Cards and Insurance, Explained

It is possible to insure your credit card against loss or theft, however do be aware that laws exist in most countries stating that victims of unauthorised charges due to loss or theft are not liable to pay them, and all credit card issuers have procedures for disputing charges you have not authorised so do check these policies before you travel. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission states that your liability for such charges is limited to $50, yet many telemarketing scams claiming otherwise are rife. The FTC suggest to be wary of any unsolicited caller offering credit card cover, and warn against giving personal details to such people as they are often scams in disguise. In order to be reimbursed for any unauthorised charges to your card, it is always important to report a theft to the police, and make sure to take down the crime number for your bank and insurance company.

It’s worth knowing that there are four common purchase benefits available for credit cards, including: price protection, purchase security, extended warranty, and return protection. Most credit cards in the US offer at least one of these, but many credit cards world-wide offer all four as standard, so check your cover details with your card issuer before travelling to see which you have and how these can be used while travelling.

Companies like American Express are now offering an altogether different type of service however, one that doesn’t just cover money lost, but aims to help you out with a range of problems that come from losing your credit cards when travelling. American Express Defence is a service that will help you to report your lost credit cards — including those issues by other providers — mobile phones, or even keys, and replace these items or get copies to supply to the local police for their reports. They will also provide a cash advance if your bag is lost or stolen, to help you with emergency expenses, accommodation charges and the cost of replacement travel tickets.


It’s important to know the difference between types of insurance too: insurance covering you from loss or theft is often called ‘Credit Card Loss Protection’, which is different to travel insurance that comes free with many credit cards. This type of free travel insurance often includes medical cover, yet many travel insurance companies warn travellers against relying on free travel insurance offered by their credit cards, particularly for medical treatment. Independent insurance experts like Allan Manning of LMI Group suggest that these warnings should be taken seriously, as this free travel insurance is often only a basic policy that will not protect travellers in many situations. It’s very important to check the details of such policies, as many will not cover pre-existing medical conditions, or help with finding doctors who speak your language.

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