Irish banks block cards when abroad

I wrote a post about Allied Irish Bank (AIB) Lowering its daily maximum withdrawal limit back in 2011 and thought it might be time for an update on the subject.

Several people have told me anecdotes about how they or their friends were impacted not  by the limit but by another inconvenience. Your card being completely blocked.

Aib withdrawl limit rant

Irish bank rant

In preparation for my upcoming trip to the New York I had to ring my bank to advise them that I would be going abroad. I asked what the daily limit is at ATM machines. It is now a staggering $250 for the United States from most banks if they don’t have chip and pin system. If I was staying at a hotel this would barely even cover 1 nights accommodation in NYC. I was also told I can apparently use my card up to $5,000 at point of sale systems.   That is if the card isn’t blocked.

Another person said that it happened on the first night of their trip. They couldn’t get access to any cash. They rang the bank and got the card unblocked. Then it happened again the following day!

Why banks block cards when you’re abroad?

The reason for this inconvenience is due to fraud. 100,000 accounts in the UK were affected by card skimming activities according to the UK card association [source]. This results in millions in loses to the bank. It is costly to insure and therefore the inconvenience is passed to us. If the bank suspects fraudulent activity they will block your card immediately to avoid additional losses.

How can I avoid my card being blocked when I am abroad?

The best way to avoid your card being blocked is to inform your bank. You can do this over the phone, in person or some banks like AIB allow you to do this online. However, there is no guarantee that this will actually avoid it happening. So I would advise travelling with another card just in case one is blocked you can use the other card. At least that way you will still have access to funds.

AIB states on their site “Please note: If you are travelling to the UK, you do not need to notify us. A maximum of five countries can be added.” So if someone was InteRailing in Europe or enjoying long term travel this could also be a problem

What should I do if my bank card is blocked?

The best thing to do is ring your bank as soon as you can and tell them not to fear no fraudulent activity took place. If you bank with AIB in Ireland there is a number of the bank of the card you can ring 24/7. With other banks there might be only certain times you can contact the department that deals with fraudulent activity. Then ring your Irish mammy and ask her to send you some funds to keep you ticking over. Then have a beer to celebrate when you can finally withdraw money again.


Has your bank card ever been blocked when abroad? Tell me  your story in the comments below…

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