Credit Denied

Credit Denied 2016-01-31T19:41:58-08:00

Hi Joel,

On recent international travel, my credit card company cut off my access to credit due to “suspicious activity”. After I called to explain that I was traveling on vacation in Italy, they cut it off again anyway. Their explanation – it was due to some algorithm they use in their database, out of their control, and they could not provide any assurance that it would not happen again on my next attempted charge. Unbelievable!

The company is BankOne, who unfortunately bought out my FirstUSA Visa card that had given me many years of stellar service, without any “algorithm” problems.

My credit rating is perfect, and my income is high. As a priority, I want worldwide acceptance (Visa/MC?) and excellent support and service, especially when I travel abroad. I am not too concerned about rewards (but they are a nice kicker), or rates, as I generally pay off the balance in full each month.

What card(s) would you suggest I take a look at to replace this dog?



edited question

Answered by The Penny Pincher

Dear Rick,

I would be livid with BankOne. I have done a considerable amount of international travel and never had a preposterous “algorithm” problem. It is common for credit card transactions to be flagged when international charges appear, particularly if there is not a steady pattern of such charges.

As a rule, I call my credit card company in advance to advise them of my intended international charges. However, when I don’t, I usually receive a message from my credit card company, to verify the charges. Never has my card been cut-off without warning.

It appears that your preferences are similar to mine—a desire for impeccable service and worldwide coverage. With this in mind, I have been happy with the Diners Club Card. They offer good global coverage, excellent service, and a rewards program that allows you to transfer your points to ALL major U.S. airlines and select international programs—26 in all. Additionally, card holders have access to a plethora of airport lounges worldwide, and a billing cycle of 59 days—which is helpful when you’re traveling internationally.

I compliment my Diners Club Card with a U.S. Bank Visa Business Card (qualification is based on your personal credit history—you don’t necessarily need to be a business owner to qualify). This card has no annual fee with an APR of Prime +3.9%. In addition, you can choose to add a travel reward program for a $55 annual fee.

The combination of these cards provides global reach, superior service, and the travel benefits you expect from a first class charge/credit card company.

Incidentally, the new edition of the Penny Pincher’s Passport (May 2004) has a chapter devoted to credit card offerings. You can pre-order a copy through by following this link: Penny Pincher.

All the best,

Follow up:

Thanks for you considerate reply Joel. To be fair, BankOne did attempt to call to verify charges, but to my home phone, and again in separate mailing that arrived about the same time as I did when I returned from my vacation.

Quite laughable. Obviously if they were trying to reach me to verify international charges, they would need an international method. I can understand the first cutoff somewhat, as it forces me to call and verify that the charges are legitimate, which I did. The second time, just flabbergasted me. They basically admitted that they had no control over their credit issuing process. Who needs that kind of service? I need a card I can rely upon.

Anyways, thanks for the excellent recommendations. I looked at Diner’s Club briefly, but thought they probably didn’t have the reach. I frequent “off the beaten trail” small shops and restaurants, and a Visa seemed a more likely choice. But the combo suggestion is probably the way to go – Diner’s club mostly, for their service and international experience, and Visa when I need the extra reach. I will check them out and also the US Bank card. I had credit with them before, and liked their service.

Thanks again for your help.