A couple of days after arriving in the Philippines, I found that my credit card was suspended. I was able to use it for 1 or 2 transactions, but the next transaction was denied. I was trying to buy a Barong for myself for my cousin’s wedding, which was the main reason of our trip.
It is not an unusual practice by banks to temporary suspend your credit card, if they think there are suspicious transactions done in your behalf or if your card was stolen. Several back to back big purchases or transactions occurring outside your home area can trigger this alert. It is an added security for the card holder.
Last month, my wife’s credit card was fraudulently used by someone in California, and our bank suspended her account. Good thing they did, for it was not us who made those purchases and the bank did not credit those transactions after they notified us and we confirmed it to them.
Since I was doing transactions in the Philippines, a half a world away from my home address in Iowa, the bank deemed it suspicious and temporary suspended my card.
Usually it is not a big deal if your card is temporary suspended. You just have to call the bank and prove it to them by answering a series of security questions that you are the one indeed who made those transactions, and they will open your account again. Better yet, if you inform the bank that you will be traveling to a particular place, you will save all this hassle. This I forgot to do.
Since my local bank was relatively small, they don’t have 24-hour customer’s service available. I have to call them during their normal business hours, which means at night or very early in the morning while I was in the Philippines. Des Moines and Manila has 13 hours time zone difference.
But I really need my credit card resumed. Going to Tambunting’s pawn shop was not an option.
So there I was, tired and weary from jet-lag, making a phone call to my bank at an unholy hour of 3 o’clock in the morning. Plus my cellphone’s signal was spotty, which is another issue in the Philippines. The known cellular carriers in the US, like Verizon, ATT and Sprint, are not readily available there.
Then after I made my call, I learned that the 1-800 number which was supposed to be free of charge, was not free after all, since I was making an outside the country long distance call.
It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I don’t want to wake up my family, so I made the call inside the bathroom, as I was almost shouting on the phone just to be heard with the poor phone signal and reception.
On top of all of these nuisances, an unwelcome visitor showed up and walked into the bathroom. A visitor I don’t want to see again. A plump big black cockroach!
I don’t need this added distraction.
After several minutes of shouting (or near shouting) and some intense negotiations, I finally did it. Mission accomplished!
I killed the cockroach.