Last Updated on August 11, 2023
While cleaning up yesterday, I came across the shredded remains of my first travel credit card. The travel credit card that chased me around the world, but never quite found me.
After seeing it, memories came rushing back from the chaotic morning I had on July 8th, 2018 when I woke up thinking I was ready to leave America and kickstart my first-ever backpacking trip.
Thinking I was all ready and set to go, I was jolted awake the morning of my departure to this Bank of America alert plastered across my phone’s lock screen.
My travel credit card’s security had [possibly] been jeopardized and Bank of America had taken it upon themselves to cancel my card and mail me a new one. You know… just in case.*
I was leaving the country in less than 6 hours with a one-way airplane ticket and no plans to return!
Urgently, I called up Bank of America’s customer service and BEGGED them not to cancel my credit card. I explained that I was leaving for an international trip that very same day and would not be able to receive the new replacement card by mail. Unfortunately, they told me the action could not be undone.
While fast action on behalf of your bank to deter and prevent fraudulent charges is NORMALLY greatly appreciated, I couldn’t help but feel livid over the poor timing of it all. How could they!?
It’s hard to explain the frustration of that event. Yes, yes. Of course, I was so happy to see my bank being proactive with their extra cautious efforts to protect my account, but their decision to deactivate my travel credit card so suddenly could have had DIRE implications for my first solo trip abroad.
All I could think to myself was THANK GOODNESS I had more than one travel credit card to use as alternative payment methods.
Prior to receiving that message from my bank, it wasn’t like I had been shopping on any sketchy websites. To this day, I have no idea which merchant I shopped with that led to this security issue. Actually, because they made it sound mostly preventative, I’m not even sure how much danger the card was in in the first place!
After calling Bank of America customer service from the airport, I asked them to please mail my replacement credit card replacement to my first accommodation in Greece. They agreed.
By the time my credit card reached Greece, I had already left for Spain.
I asked Bank of America to please send another card to Spain. They agreed but with a bit less conviction. By the time the new card arrived in Spain, I was now living in Poland.
Unactivated copies of my credit cards were being mailed all over the place only to never be retrieved by me. How wonderful, right?
I started to sweat about my own financial security. I was feeling CONVINCED my credit card would have been MORE SAFE had they left me with the one at risk of potential fraud, versus having countless ready-to-go copies of my cards floating around in all of these random countries around the world.
Eventually, Bank of America and I mutually came to terms with the fact that this just wasn’t working. I never did receive my replacement credit card until I returned to the United States the following year.
Sadly, I never got to use that travel credit card while traveling. The whole ordeal left me so upset that I ended up deciding to look for alternatives and closed the account.
I always get a little chuckle out of advertisements for the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card because all I can associate it with is how badly it failed me as a travel credit card.
I don’t hold any of this against them. I know this was nothing more than bad timing and bad luck.
Now, when it comes to traveling with credit cards, I follow 2 rules.
Rule #1: ALWAYS travel with AT LEAST 3 travel credit cards.
Never put all your eggs into one basket. Bring more than one credit card.
They don’t have to all be travel credit cards, but I personally think it does make more sense for them to be credit cards than other payment options such as cash or debit cards.
If the Bank of America travel rewards card had been my only payment option, I would have been in a major predicament that morning when they chose to deactivate it without notice.
Rule #2: Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card for travel.
My credit card of choice changes periodically. At the moment, for most travelers with qualifying credit, I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Some of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card’s features include:
- Large signup points bonus with qualifying purchases
- 5x points on travel purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 2x points on other travel purchases
- 3x points on dining, delivery/takeout
- 3x points on groceries (excluding wholesale stores, Target, Walmart, etc.)
- 1x points on all non-qualifying purchases
- You get 25% additional value on points when redeemed for travel!
- 10% Anniversary boost on points
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel and purchase coverage included
Want to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Here’s my referral link!
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you decide to purchase something listed here.
Thanks to this credit card, I recently flew to Amsterdam for FREE using just points.
If you have any questions on how to use this card for travel, you’re welcome to contact me.