How to get money if I lost my debit card abroad?

Losing a debit card overseas is every traveler’s nightmare. It can cause a panic attack and be more than a minor inconvenience. When you lose your debit card, you’re also in a situation where you need another way to access your money.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in a pickle on an overseas trip. You’re wondering how to get money if I lost my debit card abroad

Losing a debit card abroad can be fixed by having your bank mail you a replacement. You can also wire yourself money or transfer money via your PayPal or Venmo account.

Hopefully, you’re reading this because you want to be prepared just in case. But if you need an immediate action plan, the below tips should help you out. Let’s look at how you can get money if you lose your debit card overseas.

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How To Get Money If I Lost My Debit Card Abroad

You reach into your wallet, and your heart starts beating out of your chest. Your debit card is missing, and you’re unsure where you lost it. The first thing you need to do is cut your card off.

Hopefully, you can do this online through your account or a mobile app. You should also review your account activity and keep an eye on it for a while. Report any fraudulent transactions as soon as you see them.

But freezing your debit card and reporting fraud doesn’t get you back in business. You need a way to get yourself money from your account to do that. Let’s start with the most obvious.

1. Order a Replacement Card

You might be thinking, why would I do this? I can order a replacement card, but it will go to my home in the U.S. How will that help me while I’m in Croatia?

But your bank or card issuer doesn’t have to mail your replacement card to your home address. You can request the bank to mail the card to where you’re staying overseas. You might need to go through additional identity verification measures or pay more to overnight it.

Getting a replacement card in the mail can also be tricky if you visit more than one destination. You might need to adjust your travel plans or time the mailing of your replacement card. Ask your bank about international mailing times and options first.

2. Wire Yourself Money

The second best thing is to wire yourself some money from your checking account. You can do this using Western Union or another wire service. However, you’ll need to verify your identity and find an available location in your host country. 

You might also want to be strategic about how much money you wire. Carrying a lot of cash can make you a target for theft. In addition, if you lose cash it’s nearly impossible to get it back.

As long as you’re staying in a relatively populated area, wiring money to yourself should be an option. But if you’re in a remote area, you may have a bit of a trek to the nearest Western Union. Ask around about locations nearby to see if this is a viable option for you.

3. Transfer Money to a PayPal or Venmo Account

In a best-case scenario, you’ve got a PayPal or Venmo account you can transfer money to. You’ve also got a backup debit card tied to this account. But barring this, you can transfer money to a friend’s, fellow traveler’s, or hotel rep’s account.

Once the money is in their account, they can withdraw it from an ATM for you. Then, you’ll have cash on you to help pay for things during the rest of your trip. However, this option does take a leap of faith and trust.

If you’re uncomfortable with it or don’t have someone willing to help you out, wiring money is better. You’ll know it’s in your name and will be at the Western Union location. That said, PayPal or Venmo is more convenient and usually faster.

If you do go the PayPal or Venmo route, be sure to let them know of your travel plans. It’s best to call or contact them online before you leave. You’ll have an easier time completing your transfer without having your digital wallet frozen for suspected fraud.

Travel With More Than One Debit Card in Your Wallet

Although you may not want to, traveling with more than one debit card is good. Here’s why. If you lose one, you have a backup method.

Then all you have to do is freeze the debit card you lost. You’ll have access to a credit card or another debit card to help you out. Of course, you might be thinking, what happens if I lose my wallet?

Now, I’ve got more than one card to cancel. But you can help prevent this by carrying your cards in different locations. Place one in a fanny pack, another in your wallet, and another in your suitcase.

Store your backups in your hotel’s safe or a similar secure location while you’re out. You won’t have to worry as much about losing everything. And you’ll know exactly which card to cancel or freeze.

Take Some Cash With You

Some people also take some cash out before they board their flights. They keep a bit of backup cash in case something happens with their credit or debit cards. Keeping that cash in a plastic bag or sleeve in a separate location may come in handy.

Of course, you’ll want to decide how much to carry with you. A few hundred dollars might be feasible and lower your risk of becoming a target. However, it would help to secure your cash in a hotel safe when you’re sightseeing.

You might take out that cash in U.S. dollars or the country’s local currency. That said, it’s probably easier to keep it in U.S. dollars. If you don’t end up using it, you don’t have to convert it back.

If you don’t want to carry actual cash, purchasing traveler’s checks is another option. You can buy these before you leave on your trip. And you can get the exact amount you want to set aside for backup or incidentals.   

Losing Your Debit Card in an International ATM

You can easily lose your debit card in an ATM overseas. It happens to distracted travelers who forget to remove their debit cards after receiving their money. Sometimes debit cards also get stuck in a card reader’s slot.

Before using an ATM, take a picture of the owner’s customer service number and the machine ID. Also, make sure you only use ATMs that are owned by major banks or organizations in the area. You can look up ATMs that belong to the Global ATM Alliance, which will help you stick with reputable locations.

If you do lose your debit card in an ATM, call the owner or bank’s number. Provide them with the machine ID, location, and when you think you lost your card. It might take a few days, but they can retrieve your card for you.

In these cases, you should still shut off access to your card. Even if the debit card is inside the machine, you can’t confirm that yet. Once you get your card back, you can remove the hold.  

What If I Lose My Debit Card at an Airport?

Your game plan should still be the same. Contact your card issuer immediately regardless of where or how you lose a debit card abroad. Freeze your card and order a replacement.

If you lose your debit card at an airport or on a plane while you’re headed home. The replacement card can go to your regular mailing address. You won’t need your bank or card issuer to overnight a replacement to a hotel.

But what if you’re sure you lost your card on the plane ride over or at the airport you landed at? 

Then, you might be in luck. Call the airline and the airport to see if an employee or fellow traveler turned in your card.

The airline will probably send the card over to your hotel or where you’re staying. Airlines do this for lost and found luggage all the time. You might also be able to go back to the airport to retrieve your card before your trip is over.

Final Thoughts

It can be an unwelcome and unnerving experience when you lose a debit card—but losing one while you are overseas only heightens anxiety and fear. Thoughts of how to get money if I lost a debit card abroad and ID theft runs rampant.

But losing a debit card isn’t the end of the world if you get on top of things. Once you discover the card’s gone, contact your card issuer. Freeze the card so someone else can’t use it and order a replacement.

You can have another card mailed to your destination when you’re overseas. But you can also wire money to yourself or through someone’s digital wallet account.


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John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.