It can happen to all of us. You forget your card at an ATM abroad after withdrawing cash. The card slips out of your pocket while removing other things. You lose card abroad in a taxi. You misplace it at a supermarket till while filling your bags. Your wallet gets stolen. Or, you simply just lose it while travelling and can’t remember where or how.
As soon as you realise that you’ve lost your card abroad, leave the sulking to later and take important steps. Why? So nobody misuses your card, money is not taken out from your account or your account is not charged with expenses that you didn’t make.
1. Switch off International Transactions on your card account
Banking mobile apps and websites these days can offer you the option to switch on or off domestic and international transactions. If you have this option, do it as soon as soon as you realise your card is lost.
2. Temporarily freeze your card
Banking mobile apps and websites may also offer the option to “freeze” your card. Or call your bank helpline for this. Freezing the card means that in this state, the card cannot be used for any transaction. The freezing option is especially helpful while travelling abroad because if you do happen to find your card back, you can unfreeze and use it again. If you choose to “terminate” or “permanently block” your card, you won’t be able to use it even if you find it back and will have to order a new card. Your bank may or may not deliver a new card to an international address. If you don’t have any option to switch off international transactions or freezing the card, safer to permanently block to avoid misuse.
3. Go back to the ATM where you lose card abroad
There are kind human beings everywhere in the world. It can happen that you go back to the ATM and another customer you safely kept your card and gives it back to you or has left it with a security guard around. So rush back if you don’t find your card soon after you used the ATM.
4. Speak to a bank representative if you lose card abroad at an ATM inside a bank branch
If you forgot or lost your card at an ATM inside a bank branch, chances are high that the next customer has given it to a bank representative or a bank representative found it and kept it. Take your ID with you in this case. If you are far away already, you can try calling this bank branch and set up a time to find your card back.
5. Find your lost card at information helpdesks of supermarkets abroad
If you believe you lost your card at a big supermarket, many of them tend to have collection processes to keep lost cards for weeks. Lost cards at supermarkets are handed to store managers or information helpdesks by employees, other customers or cleaning staff. This handover may can happen immediately or at the end of a working day. Make a few trips to that supermarket with your ID to possibly get your lost card back.
6. Retrace your walk back and look at the footpath
If you walked back from the ATM and believe that it may have slipped out of your pocket or wallet and fallen on the street, try to retrace your steps and see if you can find it on the footpath.
7. Ask the taxi customer service helpline to ask the driver
If you believe you left your card in a taxi and you used Uber or an official taxi service where you can reach their customer service, ask them to connect with the driver and find if your lost card can be found in that taxi.
8. Report to your bank if you see a fraudulent transaction on your card
If in the amount of time between realizing you’ve lost your card and freezing or terminating your card, if somebody has misused your card i.e. You find a withdrawal or transaction that you haven’t done, call your bank and report the transaction immediately. Many cards today come with in-built insurance and it’s possible that the lost amount can be refunded back to you by the bank. However, depending on the card type and bank policies, you also need to be prepared that you have lost this money and the bank may not refund you that amount.
9. Terminate the card if you’re sure it’s lost and will not find it back
If after trying all these steps, you have no luck in finding your lost card abroad, it is the safest to permanently block this card. You can usually do so from banking apps or websites or by calling the bank. Depending on your bank or card company’s policies, you may have the option of getting a new card delivered to you abroad or a new card will be delivered to your registered address back in your home country.