a VirtualTourist member from Nashville asked on Feb 24, 2016
This is more about sharing experience than a tourist question. My bank was fully informed that I was in Ecuador but my card was still blocked, and I was told that was because it was a blocked or blacklisted country. I was astounded. Has this happened to anyone else? They also said - trying to pass the buck hahaha - that countries blocked cards. Ecuador blocking an American Visa card? Impossible to imagine. What do you think of this? Maybe North Korea....but not a country that likes the States, is full of expats and needs the tourist trade! Any ideas?
You informed your bank that you were going abroad and they screwed up. The bank employee who took your information that you were going to be out of the country totally dropped the ball and imputed the info incorrectly onto your file. The bank employee who was babbling about "countries blocking your card" was yet another idiot who couldn't find their ass with both hands. You're right, Ecuador certainly isn't Cuba and this should have been a non issue.
Bottom line, big dumb corporations make mistakes all the time. Something this simple isn't worth the time to get fixated on though. Yell at someone and move on.
Best of luck on your future travels.
Thank you for your answers. I hope to hear from more people. It is not a big corporation, it is a small Southern bank and thus conservative. They are putting me through hell right now with their nonsense; I am feeling helpless and depressed because of their unilateral actions. I do not want to be in a giant system as I am always out of the country, but I want to leave them. That is not a question for this forum of course but I would like to know if other travelers have had the same problem. I assume it is the card issuing company that blocks the cards. I asked for a list of blocked countries so I could be prepared and they said it changed all the time, but that there were four more or less permanently blocked: North Korea, Iran, Gibraltar, and Malta. Malta? They say it is because of fraud in the country. I had to give a date of departure and resisted, because I do not know and that imposes on my freedom. Finding myself totally alone in Quito with $3 to my name obliged me to give a date! But I was not warned that if I did not give a date I would be left destitute! Now I am being punished, my funds are exposed and I can do nothing - make a transfer, open a savings account - unless I am actually present in the bank. It is really disrespectful since people know me and my family at the bank and have for decades! Well, thanks for listening. I just wish I could know in advance! And think they should have warned me!
Thank you, gwened. When I gave a date they unblocked the card. And promptly transferred my funds from a safe place to a dangerous one to punish me because I had protested. And I am helpless! No, the embassy would do nothing in such cases, the French embassy I am sure is much more helpful. If I had been destitute I could have gone there for an expensive loan, I imagine, but that is ridiculous when I have money in the bank and a card to take it out with! And it would have made a very black mark on my record, I am sure! Better not to have the government meddling in your affairs!
Jean, I never deal with the bank (actually, it's a credit union) on credit card issues; just report my travel dates/locations to the bank to make sure my debit/credit card - what I use strictly for ATM withdrawals when abroad - isn't locked. Is that the sort of card you're having your troubles with?
Anyway, if I had a problem with a Visa (non-debit) card, I'd call the company directly: there should be a number for international calls on the back of the card. Just thought I'd throw that out just in case - although it unfortunately sounds like a debit/credit card that's the problem. Yes, I have to provide my dates/locations to ensure it stays unlocked for the duration, and that's understandable. The alternative would be to call and tell them if the trip was extended, although I always stretch our arrival date in the States by a couple of days in case of an air strike.
No, I don't think an embassy would have been any help at all. Lost passport, yes, but not a locked card. Bummer. :O(
At least you can get to the $$ now!
I arrived in Amsterdam several years ago to find that my card was blocked, and it ultimately became clear that it was blocked at every bank in the Netherlands. A terrifically expensive long-distance phone call revealed that my small regional bank had flagged The Netherlands as a high risk country for ATM transactions due to skimmers being planted in ATMs. They told me that the risk of my account being cleaned out was too high to unblock the card. Why it was only my bank's cards, and only in Holland, nobody could tell me. My only solution was to take out a credit card cash advance, and leave for France a week ahead of schedule, where my card was not blocked. Lesson learned? Not only do I inform my bank of my travel plans, but I do it in person and get a manager to double check on potential blockages.
I do it in person too but probably should get a super to run a double-check.
Hi everyone, thanks for those replies, I was not informed of them. No, it is a simple debit card. I used it for maybe 11-12 years without problems then suddenly it became a drama for my bank. But the Trust Officer who was helping me suddenly left the bank, and since then it has been complicated. I am not able to go into the bank in person and phoning is a hardship too. Fraud like skimmers etc can happen everywhere, and if they started blocking cards because of that the entire system would fail, and the world economy! The card companies want to cover their behinds, but that story from the Netherlands is crazy! There must be alternative answers. The bank sent me this link but it concerns sanctions, not frauds, and Ecuador is not even mentioned! Only Venezuela, with whom we have been squabbling. Basically, the whole world seems to be succumbing to paranoia! Here it is for those interested: [original link]
Arg, what a pain, eh?
You might consider switching financial institutions? I've never had a problem with my credit union debit card but it's also from a very large company with offices, plants and partnerships abroad; a segment of employees live and/or travel - both for business and pleasure - regularly outside the U.S. Guessing that may have something to do with it but I'm also not sure what they'd say about Ecuador.
Hope you get it sorted so you don't have any more problems in the future. Did you get your tooth fixed, BTW?
Thanks for your sympathy, I do need to change banks or whatever but absolutely no idea where to turn. Of course I am helpless right now. The dental situation is also causing distress. I had a recommended dentist who turned out to be rude and mercenary and rushed and in any case I would have had to stay a long time in Quito, a city I dislike. That is another real problem that is unresolved. So it is not a happy moment and of course this is the wrong season to be here (gloomy). sigh...I will move on soon but I would have liked to come in the summer....