Withdrawals overseas

The letter “Credit Card Surprise” (Oct. ’06, pg. 12) prompts this note I have put off for years.

I have two accounts with Washington Mutual bank, one of which taps ATMs for cash. Before an April-May ’06 trip I called their fraud department four times, telling them of my impending travel. Two bank representatives told me my card would not work in Western Europe and two told me it would work.

Within two weeks of a longer July-September ’06 trip, I called their fraud department twice, telling them of my impending travel, including departure and return dates, the countries I would be visiting, etc.

On one of my calls I was informed that a bank rep would fill out a special form, which would then be forwarded to the fraud department. One supervisor out of two knew of this procedure, while three customer service representatives out of four had never heard of the process.

Upon arrival in Frankfurt I withdrew euros from an airport ATM, but for the next two months in six countries it was blocked. In a costly phone call I made to the U.S., I was informed they had no idea what the problem might be but they would reinsert all of my travel information and all would be well. All subsequent ATM requests for cash were blocked.

Since I have had the same problem with WaMu for many years, I have a separate account with Bank of America for overseas ATM cash. B. of A. has never failed me.


San Diego, CA