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Don't Panic If You Lose Your Credit Card While Traveling

Alessandra Tarantino
AP Photo
FILE - In this photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009 tourists gather in front of the Trevi fountain in Rome.

Credit cards are essential travel tools for many. But they’re also targets for thieves and also easy to lose. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says the most important thing is not to panic. 

Some advice:

Report It Right Away

If you report the card’s loss within 48 hours, you’re only liable for $50. That’s why credit card companies are so keen to call you and/or cancel your card as soon as they notice something unusual. They’re on the hook for the rest of whatever’s charged. Make sure you call promptly, though. The amount you’re responsible for goes up the longer you wait. The Federal Trade Commission’s website spells out your rights (and responsibilities).

Tell Your Card Company Where You're Going And When

Call the 800-number on the back of the card and tell your credit card company about your itinerary. That will prevent them from suspecting fraudulent activity when you show up in a new place.

Take Two Debit Cards

Debit cards are the best way to withdraw money while abroad. You’ll want to bring two, so you can still access your money if you should lose one. Put your spare in the hotel safe. Nobody really knows what to do with travelers checks anymore.

Cash Or Charge? Know Before You Go

Cash can be unwieldy. And if it's stolen, it's gone. But there are some countries that are still mostly cash economies. Japan is one of them, which many visitors find surprising. Double check before you go.


"Going Places" is KPLU’s weekly exploration of travel, near and far. It’s co-hosted by Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley, founder ofEarthbound Expeditions, which guides tours for clients including KPLU. 


Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.