In the last edition of my newsletter, you heard about our amazing trip and how we were able to pay for almost everything with points and some smart pre-planning. (You’ll see photos today).
Now, you will hear what didn’t work. This was big lesson for me.
To stay on budget, we used mainly cash. We even bought foreign currency before leaving home. We were able to purchase Crown, Kroner, Euro and Rubles at our local exchange in Connecticut.
But we knew we would want to use credit occasionally, so we called our credit and debit card companies to let them know where we’d be travelling and on what dates (as I’ve told you to do many times).
Imagine our surprise when our cards were declined in Copenhagen. We had dinner with friends and asked the restaurant split the bill between us – half on their card and half on ours. Ours was declined. We knew it wasn’t the machine because they processed our friends’ card first. We could see that theirs worked because the staff at the restaurant actually processes the credit card at your table using a portable machine.
We wondered if it was because we were using our US debit card with a pin. So we ask them to do it again as a credit card. It still didn’t work. The staff said that a lot of US credit cards are declined for some reason.
And, it wasn’t just the restaurant. We tried using the credit card when we checked out of the hotel. Again, declined! It was very embarrassing.
When we returned, I called the credit card company to ask why they wouldn’t accept our transactions. After a lengthy conversation, and several people, they realized that they couldn’t see any of the attempted transactions in their system. Fortunately, I kept the receipt as proof, but even with the evidence right in front of them, they still couldn’t give me an answer.
The mystery continues. Thank goodness for our American Express card. It saved the day.
Remember, no matter how prepared you are. Things can go wrong. Make sure you have a back-up plan when you travel.
Update: A big thanks to Heidi for giving us an explanation! Apparently, their credit card machines are programmed to accept cards originating from countries in the European Union – and nowhere else. I guess that makes things easier for Denmark, but not for tourists! Read her full comment below.