Bank card interruption

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We have used our ATM card around the world and never had a problem. What a shock to find it would not work in Portugal, of all places, in May ’07. Two banks verified that the ATM system that works through MasterCard had been down for weeks.

Our travel friends were able to bail us out, thank goodness (their card had a Visa symbol on it instead of MasterCard), but we ran into other couples who were stranded and trying to get money wired from the USA.

Before leaving, I had informed MasterCard that I would be using my charge card in Portugal, but there was no trouble using the charge card, only the ATM through my bank; the charge card is not really linked to the ATM banking system.

Of course, I contacted my bank and MasterCard when I returned home. The bank basically said they would have no way of knowing that the MasterCard system was down in a particular country and to check with MasterCard.

When I called MasterCard, I was referred to several different numbers and no one could deal with the question of how to check on this in advance. Also, no one there seemed to understand that their charge cards worked fine; it was the ATM bank cards with the MasterCard symbol on them that didn’t work.

I wonder if anyone knows of a way to check on something like this before leaving.

I have since signed up for Express Cash through my American Express card, in case such an emergency arises again without friends along to help. AmEx told me I could get cash directly out of any ATM that has an AmEx symbol on it. All I need is my American Express card and the PIN, which I now have. Of course, interest runs immediately, but in a crunch I would be happy to pay it.

CAROL HECKMAN

Troy, MI

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

We have used our ATM card around the world and never had a problem. What a shock to find it would not work in Portugal, of all places, in May ’07. Two banks verified that the ATM system that works through MasterCard had been down for weeks.

Our travel friends were able to bail us out, thank goodness (their card had a Visa symbol on it instead of MasterCard), but we ran into other couples who were stranded and trying to get money wired from the USA.

Before leaving, I had informed MasterCard that I would be using my charge card in Portugal, but there was no trouble using the charge card, only the ATM through my bank; the charge card is not really linked to the ATM banking system.

Of course, I contacted my bank and MasterCard when I returned home. The bank basically said they would have no way of knowing that the MasterCard system was down in a particular country and to check with MasterCard.

When I called MasterCard, I was referred to several different numbers and no one could deal with the question of how to check on this in advance. Also, no one there seemed to understand that their charge cards worked fine; it was the ATM bank cards with the MasterCard symbol on them that didn’t work.

I wonder if anyone knows of a way to check on something like this before leaving.

I have since signed up for Express Cash through my American Express card, in case such an emergency arises again without friends along to help. AmEx told me I could get cash directly out of any ATM that has an AmEx symbol on it. All I need is my American Express card and the PIN, which I now have. Of course, interest runs immediately, but in a crunch I would be happy to pay it.

CAROL HECKMAN

Troy, MI