Tuesday, April 29, 2014

lost in transactions

A few weeks ago I applied for the Plus ATM card from HSBC so now I have two ATM cards for the account: one Plus affiliated card and one Union Pay affiliated card. When I picked up the Plus ATM card I told the bank representative that I was going to be in the US for a few weeks and wanted to make sure that my ATM and credit cards were all in good order. Last time I was in the US all of my purchases on the credit card were declined until someone from HSBC called up to verify the purchases. While this was okay for purchases from the local camping supply store, this did not work in the grocery store while the queue behind me grew longer and longer. And don't even ask about the roaming charges! Meanwhile, my ATM card was god for scraping bugs off the windshield.

Yes, the nice man told me, everything was set up to work in the US. With that, I happily skipped away, secure that I would not be panhandling on the streets of San Francisco for train fare. Then I remembered that Pollyanna I am not and my true cynical self came out. I ran a test on a trip to China and discovered that my ATM cards both indeed worked...as long as my transaction was under $0.00. So I went back to my local branch and changed all of the limits on the cards. I realized that I was guilty of being unclear. I had asked if my cards would work overseas, assuming that my question inferred that I was going to want to withdraw money. But there must be people who take their ATM cards abroad just to see that they work, who don't actually need to use them for obtaining cash. I'm so glad that I know that now. 

I now will spend the next 48 hours before my flight worrying about what other caveats I have missed.

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