TIP: backup bank cards

ATM at the secretary of state in Portage, MI

I’ve mentioned this one before, about having a secondary back account so if your main ATM card goes walkies, you have another you can access. I have a couple of points to add to that.

1) Be aware that a lot of banks are now issuing annoying little card readers (Nationwide amongst them). This means to move money out of your account online, you have to insert your ATM card into the thing and get a number to pass to your internet banking. This obviously makes it impossible to shift cash if your ATM card has been stolen… which is the point when you need to move the money to your backup account.

So, make sure you have another way of getting cash to your backup account. Someone nice back home who can lend you the cash or something.

2) Check on your backup ATM card from time to time. Even if you don’t use it, make sure it’s not been pinched. I mention this as my dad just emailed me to let me know my Lloyds account was £350+ overdrawn. News to me as I’ve not used the account for a year. On checking my internet banking it became clear the card was stolen while I was in Kuala Lumpur at the start of the month.

Thankfully, every transaction bar one was after I’d left for Indonesia – a fact I can prove with my passport. The bank are refunding all the cash, writing off the overdraft fees and blocking my card and PIN. Had they not have gone over a limit, or had access to an account with cash in I’d not have noticed. Possibly ever.

So learn from me – check the card’s there from time to time, and also check your statements even on accounts you’re not actively using.

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