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Debit card travel tips

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Tickets purchased, bags packed and finances in order, right? Ah – summer travel season is upon us. Don’t let your travel plans be derailed by unexpected problems with your debit card.

Follow these tips to make sure your access to funds goes smoothly. While these tips are specific to White Sands FCU issued debit cards, they can be applied to most debit cards from other financial institutions.

Use our Card Valet and Mobile Banking apps

Before you go anywhere, download apps that help you track what is going on with your card and accounts. The most helpful app for White Sands FCU debit card holders is Card Valet. This app lets you control debit card usage and spending from your mobile device. Card Valet allows you to:

  • Turn your debit card on and off
  • Establish transaction controls for dollar amount limits, merchant categories and geographic locations
  • Receive text alerts when your debit card is used, approved or exceeds the transaction controls set by you
  • Stay informed of potential fraud with alerts on attempted, declined transactions
  • Get real-time balances on your accounts

If you haven’t already done so, download and set up the Card Valet app for iPhone here and for Android here.

Don’t forget our Mobile Banking app, which gives you access to all your accounts via your mobile device. This app allows you to check balances, transfer funds, use Bill Pay and make payments. Download the Mobile Banking app for iPhone here and here for Android here.

Use your PIN as much as possible

Because of fraud rules, even legitimate transactions could be declined. Therefore, using your debit card strictly as a PIN based transaction will significantly decrease the chances of your transaction being declined. Conducting PIN-based transactions lets the system know that you are physically in a particular state.

Find network ATMs

Know where you can get cash at an ATM without paying a fee. White Sands FCU is part of the Allpoint ATM Network, which gives debit card holders free access to over 55,000 ATM locations nationwide. Before you travel, download the Allpoint ATM locator for your mobile device. You can also call 1-800-809-0308, and select option 2.

Have a back up plan

Always be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes your card will be rejected for unknown reasons. Or, it might go missing. Be prepared with another form of payment, such as cash or a credit card. It’s also a good idea to keep an additional form of payment somewhere other than where you keep you debit card, in case of theft.

In case your card is rejected

Before you leave on your trip, make sure we have your correct phone number. If a transaction is declined, you’ll receive an automated call from the number 1-877-253-8964 in an attempt to verify the validity of the transaction, and that you are in possession of your card. The faster you can be reached, the sooner the issue can be resolved.

Sometimes declined transactions are due to the location or merchant where you are trying to use your card. Some cities and merchants across the country have been identified as high-fraud risks, and our card issuer automatically blocks these transactions for your protection.

Just in case you are not able to resolve a rejected transaction, be prepared with another form of payment such as a credit card or cash.

In case your card is stolen or lost

If you go to use your debit card and find it isn’t where you thought it was, use the Card Valet app to turn off your card until you find it. If you cannot find it, call us right away at 1-800-472-3272 for 24-hour service.

Know your daily card limits

White Sands FCU debit cards have a $1,200 daily cash limit at ATMs and $2,000 daily cash limit for purchases. These limits reset every day at 2 pm Mountain Time.

Keep track of your available balance

This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it gets overlooked. Make sure you have enough money in your account. White Sands FCU cardholders can use the Mobile Banking app or the Card Valet app to track account balances.

Additional tips for travel abroad

All of the tips above also apply when traveling outside the United States. However, when abroad, there are a few other considerations.

Keep us informed

While you don’t need to let us know if you are traveling in the US (because you are using PIN-based transactions), definitely tell us if you are traveling abroad. Come see us or give us a call at 1-800-658-9933. We will open a foreign country for transactions on your card for three months.

If you need to use your card abroad for a longer period, just let us know. We will ask for a request letter and a copy of your ID for verification process. Once received, we will allow foreign transactions for a six-month period.

Be aware of additional fees

Purchases and cash withdrawals made in foreign currencies will be debited from your account in US dollars, and the exchange rate between the transaction currency and the billing currency used for processing international transactions is a rate selected by Visa.

A conversion fee of 1% of the amount of the transaction, calculated in U.S. dollars, is added to all foreign transactions. See our Electronic Funds Transaction Disclosure for more information on this topic.

Additionally, White Sands FCU charges a $2 fee to withdraw cash at an ATM in a foreign country.

Also know that when you make a purchase at a foreign retailer or restaurant, they will sometimes give you the option to put the charge through in US dollars instead of in the local currency. This is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), and it could cost you as much as 7% more. These merchants will often use a conversion rate that is far higher than the actual going rate. If you allow this, you will still be paying the 1% conversion fee.