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How to keep your cards safe while traveling abroad

Updated April 18, 2023, at 11:20 a.m. CT

Traveling abroad? Before you leave the country, it’s important to know how to avoid falling victim to fraud—so your vacation can remain just that.

Here are some steps you can take before you travel, while you’re away and when you return to keep your money and identity safe.

Before you travel internationally

Before you leave, give yourself some extra time to carefully plan how you’ll pay while you’re away:

Choose your cards

Plan to take more than one form of payment. This way, if something unforeseen happens (like a network interruption), you aren’t left in a pinch.

Make sure each payment type can make purchases and get money while traveling internationally.

You’ll also want to check your cards’ expiration dates before you leave. Cards expire on the last day of the month indicated. If your card will expire while you’re away, request a replacement card early so have it before you leave. You’ll need to activate any new cards before you travel abroad.

Know your fees

Find out what international fees your card issuers charge so you know what to expect and can budget for those extra expenses.

Notify card issuers

Tell your card issuers when and where you will be traveling, so your cards continue to work while you’re away.

Hint: You can use Shine Mobile Banking to notify Dupaco of upcoming travel plans. This will help prevent fraud protection services from blocking use of your Dupaco cards.

Some credit and debit cards need to be activated for foreign use.

Set up alerts

Use Dupaco’s eNotifier Alerts to monitor activity on your accounts as it happens.

That way, you’ll be the first to know if something is happening with your money even while you’re away.

Store important phone numbers

Save the phone numbers for your card issuers in your phone in case you need to report a card stolen or lost.

Remember: If you lose your card, you lose that card number on the back of it.

It’s also a good idea to make a list of the contents in your wallet:

  • Debit card numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Anything else you might need to replace if your wallet is lost or stolen

Keep your list in a separate location from the cards. But don’t photocopy your cards. This could give thieves all the information they need to transact on your account.

Consider fraud-recovery coverage

Now might be a good time to enroll in Dupaco’s Family ID Restoration.

The fraud-recovery program can help you respond to identity theft and fraud if it happens to you.

Explore Family ID Restoration’s services >

While you’re traveling abroad

Once you’re on your trip, these tips can help you stay safe while you pay and enjoy your vacation to the fullest:

Pay the safer way

For better protection against card fraud, use EMV cards, tap and go payments or your mobile wallet.

Mobile wallets offer additional security against card fraud.

When you store your card in a mobile wallet, the card is tokenized. The wallet sends a payment code rather than your card number during transactions.

“So, if there would ever be a data breach at the retailer, the real card data is not compromised,” said Jim Bemboom, card services supervisor at Dupaco.

Stick with one ATM

Plan to use the same ATM during your trip—preferably one that is at your resort or a nearby financial institution.

Why? If you always use the same one, it will be easier to recognize if something looks out of sorts with the machine.

Watch for skimming devices

Watch out for skimming devices when you make transactions.

A card skimming device is a piece of equipment fraudsters attach over card readers at ATMs or self-service payment kiosks. During the legitimate transaction, a card passes through the skimming device that illegally captures the card number. Criminals may also install a camera nearby to simultaneously record the cardholder’s PIN as it’s entered.

Thieves then retrieve the card skimmer and the stolen card information.

Learn how to spot an ATM skimmer >

Report fraudulent activity immediately

If you lose your card or notice suspicious activity on your account, notify your card issuer immediately. You can contact Dupaco at 800-373-7600.

When you return home

Once you return from traveling abroad, these extra steps can help you continue to protect your accounts (and money):

Change your PIN

Always change your cards’ PINs when you return.

As an extra precaution, you can request to change your card numbers too.

Keep monitoring your accounts

Keep watching your eNotifier Alerts and statements. Report any suspicious activity to your card issuer immediately.

Some travelers notice suspicious activity even months after they return.