Options After Losing Your Debit Card while Traveling Abroad

Lost or stolen debit cards while abroad can be a huge hassle and stop your travel plans in their tracks. I recently lost mine while in Bangkok and have been kicking myself ever since. Luckily I have friend to borrow money from for the time being and a friend studying in Singapore who I could ship a new one too. This allows me to continue traveling instead of waiting around for a new one to be shipped internationally, something I wasn’t too keen on doing. However, before I had everything figured out, I had to do a bunch of time consuming research to figure out what my options were. If you’re headed home soon, Here’s what I learned and I’m hoping it helps you out.

Ship a Shinny New Debit Card:

Assuming you’ll be on the road for awhile, you’re going to need a new card in hand. After you’ve called and canceled the card, you’re next step is to decide on where you’d like a new one shipped. Replacement cards can be sent internationally and can take 7-10 business days or, if you’re short on time, you can have the card expedited for a fee. Times and fees can vary depending on your bank. My fee for expedited shipping was $15.

Get Money Through Western Union:

If you’re out of cash and still waiting for a replacement debit card, you can have someone back home send you money through Western Union. They have branches in most major cities and can get you cash instantly. Obviously, its not free. You can get a fee estimate on their website, but to get an idea, sending 200 USD from the US to Bangkok would have cost me 22 USD.

Pull Money with your Credit Card:

Assuming you haven’t lost your entire wallet, another avenue to obtaining cash is to pull money from your credit card. This is known as a cash advance and also comes at a price. A typical fee is $10 or 5%, whichever is greater so don’t go gung-ho with it. Also, you’re going to need a PIN number for the ATM. Hopefully you already have one set up because getting a new one sometimes requires them to mail it.

Borrow Money and Reimburse Immediately with Paypal:

This option may work better with people who trust you, but its viable nonetheless. Paypal allows you to send money (large quantities) to anyone, free of charge. In order to do so you must have a bank account linked to your account (easy), and more importantly, you must specify the transaction as a “Gift.” Gifts have no fee accompanying them so reimbursing your buddy or a fellow traveler is as simple as typing in the amount and the email address linked to their account.

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10 thoughts on “Options After Losing Your Debit Card while Traveling Abroad

  1. Pingback: On Life on a Tropical Island After Losing Your ATM Card | Pocket Gypsy & Her Traveling Tales

  2. Hi,
    about paypal, I’m not sure it would work. For my previous transactions, I was in need of a verified paypal account, with a registred card. So I imagine that when the card is cancelled, the paypal account may stop working. I didn’t try it, I’d just like someone to make sure whether it actually works.

    • You point out a valid limitation of using a Paypal account; you should have it set up beforehand. If your bank account is linked then there shouldn’t be a need for a credit card, however, I’m unsure whether you will be denied if the card you have linked to the account has been canceled. Anyone have experience with this?

      • Paypal is linked to your checking account, rather than a specific card, so the account won’t stop working if your card is lost. That said, if you wanted to use paypal to pay using a card that has been cancelled, it wouldn’t work. In the scenario you described, you would be able to use paypal to send or receive money, as it will come directly out of your checking account.

        I am about to move to China for a few months and found out I can’t link my U.S. Paypal account with a bank account in China, due to different international regulations. I requested a Paypal debit card, which has much lower fees than my other bank cards, and can be used with ease internationally. It’s going to be mailed to the States, but will arrive after I leave, so my boyfriend is going to ship it to China. Has anyone had issues receiving this type of mail internationally? I saw you had your card shipped to Singapore- were there any problems with it?

        • The mailman couldn’t find my friend’s address and I had to go to the fedex office across Singapore which ended up taking the better part of a day, but otherwise, no issues

  3. thanks for your great article. I just lost my ATM card last night in Pattaya. I’m pretty sure it was in my pocket when I was walking around drunk. Your PayPal account attached to your bank account however it is independent of your ATM card. Therefore it should work even if you change your ATM card. I usually lose my ATM card a couple times a year and my PayPal account kept working fine.

    • No problem Joe. Glad you have found a solution that works for you. It’s just one of those annoying realities of being on the road.

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