Credit Card Policies restrict travel, are applied unequally across members, and are purposely hidden from members

L&M
Contributor

Beware of USAA credit Cards - they cannont be relied upon.  I'm visiting family in a state different from my usual billing zip code.  I took them to dinner, and tried to pay with my USAA VISA card, which was declined, for no apprarent reason.  That was rather embarassing.

I called USAA to find out why, and tried to talk to a person who I literally could understand only about every third word spoken.  He flatly refused to let me spreak to a manager.

He stated that USAA has a policy that you have to notify them (Maybe in wirting?),  when you intend to travel outside the boundaries of the state that contains your billing address zip code.  However I've never been notified of that policy, nor has any of the other 3 USAA members in my family.. In another call with a different representive I was told that policy had been in effect for as long as he had been there, which was in excessof 6 months.  However, i was in the same location from Thanksgiving 2014 until after New year 0n 2015, (less than 6 months ago), without providing prior notification, and USAA did not see fit to decline my card on any of 50 to 100 uses.  By this policy, if you live in Texarkana Texas , and want to have dinner a few miles away in Texarkana, Arkansas, the policy is to decline your credit card.  I have a hard time beilieving this is really how they operate.

In addition, my son in law is a USAA member and very frequently travels to Japan, the Philipines, Australia, Maylasia, San Francisco, and multiple other out of state locations. He has never been notified of any requirement to provide prior notification, and has never had his USAA card declined or questioned.

 

My wife frequently travels halfway across the US, particlularly in the latter half of 2014, and never had any issues with her card being declilned despite making thousands of $$ of out of state purchases .

In a few months, I will begin traveling acrross the entire US on a fulltime basis, and do not expect to be in my home state more than 10% of the time.  Apparently if I expect to use my USAA credit card, I must call them everytime I change states, since my itinerary is not predictable. 

This policy is appraently being used to discriminate against whoever USAA decides they don't like, and their custormer service organziation will not make any exceptions, no matter whow well they may be warranted. 

I've been a very satisfied USAA customer for more than a decade and a half, and hate to see them changing like this, expecially when this policy is clearly either not new as asserted, or, as I  believe, does not even exist, but is being asserted to avoid dealing with the problem that USAA has caused me.  At present there is no assurance that I'll even be able to drive home from the airport when I return to my billing state, since I have no way to pay the parking fee other than through my credit car.,   It seems possible that it will be declined, since it's now on some computer watch list, when I try to pay the parking fee.  I guess in that case I'll have to be come a homeless person that lives at the airport.  If they cut off access to your credit card for no reason, what's next - Sounds likely they'll cutoff access to your bank account for no apparent reason or at leat try to).

Remember that USAA was created to support the unique issues caused by constant and unpredicatable travel patterns of military personell.  If this new policy is true, then it is clear that they have abandoned a fundamental tenet upon which their business was founded.

 

As for myself and the rest of my family, I expect we'll be moving to a banking instution other than  USAA as soon as possible.

 

Customer Beware!  You're likely to get caught in a bad situation, because of USAA policies, and their unwillingness to work out a solution.

 

16 REPLIES

Disagree with your total assessment. Have been dealing with USAA since 1967. JuSt about ALL credit card companies require notification if activity is going beyond the norm for the card holder. I learned my lesson traveling. I too was locked but, from another company. Chase to be exact. I was in the states thankfully.

All you have to do is go to their site and scroll down and electronically notify them if you will be traveling. Same with USAA. Easy enough to do on site. People should take the time to review policies before they complain. These practices are for the consumers protection. You should be thankful they are in place.
You can also call them. In all of these years I have NEVER had a problem with USAA. They are not top rated for nothing!
 
It takes very little time to go on the website and enter the city(s) and state(s) you will be traveling to and the time frame. Setup text message fraud alerts and they will text you if they think it's fraud.

Can anybody be more specific than "easy to go on the website and tell them you are traveling..." ?  I've not seen this. 

 

Also, has anyone seen a notice from USAA that this was required or necessary to avoid a seemingly random fraud decline while traveling?  It seems part of the complaint is that there is *no warning or expectation* based on the communications from USAA.  

 

That you or I have encountered problems in the past and "learned better" does not relieve USAA (or any bank) from properly communicating with their customers.  Or handling the situation when you call for support.  The automated fraud systems are erratic, however, handling problems is what we expect them to do.

 

It is NOT UNREASONABLE for you to expect the card to work when you attempt a transaction.  I understand some people are emotionally attached to USAA and naturally want to defend it.  Don't make excuses for any bank or put the burden on the customer to follow unwritten rules.  

 

BTW- traveling tips: always have more than 1 credit card with you.  If you only have 1, you need a second one.  Because otherwise you give too much power that card to cause you grief when you least need it.  To be honest, it seems any and every bank can and will randomly reject purchases.  I think some may be better than others though, it's why I like my specific credit union better than USAA for banking.

 

The complaint is that there is no documented requirement that I can find to notify anybody when I travel, that the rules are not applied equally to other members (in my family and other USAA members that I know), that the customer service personnel were rude, unhelpful, uncompromising, and refused to let me discuss the situation with a manager for possible alternatives that they were not authorized to offer, and that it seems these 'rules' are hidden from members. 

I have read the fine print that comes on each bill, the card member agreement, and searched the USAA website, and cannot find any such requirement in any of these locations, even on web pages that allow or support providing such notifications.

I know quite a few people with USAA credit cards, and none of them have ever provided such notifications or had their card declined, even for large purchases, much less a relatively small restautant charge.  After all when people travel, the thing they charge most is to restaurants, for fuel, and for lodging.  So USAA is telling us all, they won't support Credit Card based travel unless we submit to their Big Brother monitoring of all our activities.

I do NOT believe that most credit card companies require notification of travel.  In fact this is the first time in 45 years and use of perhaps several dozen credit card companies, that this question has ever been mentioned.  I don't doubt that some do (there are several including Chase, that I will not do business with based on their cardmember agreement.) 

USAA has heretofore been easy to work with; in this case, they've been horrid. 

They have that police to protect you. Y ok u should contact your bank and let them know when you will be out of state. I just call them and or go online. Usaa, has been there for us numerous time. That policy is there to protect you from theft.
That's the best method they have for detecting fraud that isn't a major purchase. For instance, several years ago someone spent $70 at a gas station several states away and USAA called me to check. Since that wasn't a too unusual purchase for me, the thing that tipped them off was the fact that it wasn't local.

USAA has the easiest travel notification system. My other bank makes you call if it's within 3 days of travel. With USAA I can go online and do it the morning I leave.
Hi. I have worked in banking and financial call centers for over 16 years and it is unfortunate that you have been negatively impacted by the automated fraud systems. This does happen to many consumers frequently but prior notification to your bank us the best way to protect yourself from this embarrassment. At you card account level on the website, go to the account menu and you will see the option to manage travel notifications. Also, it is a topic on the "help" menu. The mobile app help menu at the bottom of the account page also has extensive information on this topic and states: "Going out of town? Don't have your card denied at the register — notify us before you leave." I feel badly for you that this happened but be aware it can happen at any time with any card when traveling. It seems like the employees you spoke with could have been more helpful, but truly there is nothing that anyone could do to force the system to override your purchase to be accepted. Some zip codes have more incidence of fraud and are programmed into the fraud detection system. No employee or bank officer has access to the affected zip codes. I learned this in my attempts to help my banking customers. I certainly wish you all my best.