Prepare for Travel

Going on a family vacation, a long business trip, or just a quiet retreat to yourself? It's important to take a moment before you leave to ask the right simple questions regarding the debit and credit card(s) you'll be using on your trip. Just a few minutes of extra planning can go a long way.

Who Do I Contact Before Traveling?

Many banks, credit providers and other financial institutions regularly monitor the debit and credit activity of their customers. Depending on the card, holds may be placed on your account if the financial institution suspects anything fraudulent or otherwise suspicious. That means you might be in the middle of your trip and find your card is unexpectedly declined.

Avoid this by notifying your credit provider before you leave. If you have a card with Bank of the West, contact our card services department at 1-800-996-2638 and let them know where and when you're going. This is especially important for international travel, but it's a good idea anytime you're leaving your hometown.

If you get a call from the financial institution where you have accounts, and you're asked to confirm transaction amounts, be sure to follow through the steps given over the phone. This will ensure that your account is not frozen. If you get a voice mail message while you’re otherwise occupied, call back as soon as possible to verify your transactions.

One final note about contacting us: Bank of the West will never email you asking you to verify bank account or credit card transactions. Any such emails appearing to come from us are likely a phishing scam. Delete these emails immediately, and don't click any links inside them or respond directly to the email. If you've received a suspicious email like this, let us know by writing to

Where Will My Credit Card Be Accepted?

Don't ever assume that your U.S.-based credit card will work anywhere you travel in the world. Cards issued in the U.S. don't always work overseas, and some or even all cards won't be accepted at certain places even domestically. There can be multiple reasons for this; some products & services are simply not available for anything except cash. Some companies and individuals only accept certain brands of credit card.

In some cases overseas, the merchant clerk might not recognize the credit/debit card without a chip. Although attended card terminals also have a slot where magnetic strip cards can be swiped, merchants in less-traveled areas are sometimes confused by how to process a mag-stripe transaction. You can request the help of the store manager to complete the transaction by swiping the card and signing. Most merchants want to complete the sale and will work with you to make this happen.

At some stand-alone merchant locations/kiosks, such as gasoline pumps, toll booths, train stations, and parking garages, you may not be able to use your Bank of the West credit/debit card without a chip. Such kiosks are the exception.

If you're not sure where your card will be accepted while traveling, try to have multiple methods of purchasing available to you. Cash, traveler's checks and other forms of payment should go hand-in-hand with your credit card, especially if you're traveling abroad. It's a good idea to have a limited amount of foreign currency in-hand before you leave. This will help you cover immediate expenses when you first land, like a taxi to your hotel, or a tip for the person who carries your bags to your room.

Will I Be Charged for Foreign Transactions on My Card?

Many cards come with a foreign transaction fee, usually a percentage of your transaction. Check with your card provider to see what percent your card will be charged (if any) before you go, so you’re not surprised by a bill you receive later. If you have a credit card with Bank of the West, you can consult our Credit Card Pricing & Terms for more information.

Does My Card Come with Travel Insurance or Other Protection?

Credit card providers often offer certain protections to help insulate you against fraud or identity theft. However, don't confuse this with travel insurance. The two are very different.

Travel insurance covers some amount of losses you may experience while you're away. This type of insurance may cover travel within the United States or abroad. Typically, your credit card does not come with travel insurance. It must be obtained separately through an insurance provider.

What Should I Do if My Card is Lost or Stolen on My Trip?

If you lose your credit card or it's stolen, always call your card provider immediately. If your credit card is provided through Bank of the West, call 1-800-996-2638. If you're outside the U.S., call 1-808-842-3100.

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