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Citibank/Mastercard Travel Weirdness
Categories: Me

To say that I am unhappy with the service that I get from citibank/mastercard is an understatement. When I’m at home in the USA everything works fine. I can use the card, which by the way, represents *MY* money not Citibanks, to pay for whatever I want. However, when using my Citibank card while abroad. Very strange things happen. Whether these strange things are the fault of Citibank, Masturdcard, or both is not clear.

Anyway- It’s 3am and I have to travel in 3 hours back to the US. I’m exhausted and don’t feel like going into any more detail. Suffice it to say, that I highly reccomend that you travel with a card other than citibank mastercard if you are going abroad.

Perhaps American Express is better. After all it was originally intended for travel purposes.

To speculate further on the cause of these problems would only feed paranoia, though they would not be unfounded in doing so.

Also- citibank has a special number you can collect call when you are abroad, but unfortunately it goes directly to an off-shore call center whose representatives apparently have no training, except to tell customers that everythign is fine and to blame the merchant because mastercard rejected your cards.

Thank God for blog power. At least someone may be able to avoid this nightmare in the future. My experience is that blogging about a poor customer service experience (in general- not specific to any particular company) is the only way to have your complaint taken seriously.

So Citibank, if you are reading this, please reckognize that the money you keep from my reach when you deny my card is in fact *MY* money and not yours. Citibank told me on the phone today that this is for *MY* protection when it is in fact for Citibanks protection because they are legally responsible to cover fraudulent charges to my account. So, Citibank basically denys whatever they feel like apparently- or whatever the computer algorithm decides to deny.

Sorry to ramble. Bottom line: Citibank’s name is mud to me and if this trouble continues, I will take the issue more publicly through my audio and video programs and, of course, find another bank who will allow me access to my own money.

Remember when banks used to pay you for borrowing your money? It’s true. They did. Ask your parents.

14 Comments to “Citibank/Mastercard Travel Weirdness”

  1. JustinFeed says:

    Richard, I had the same experience with my Citibank Mastercard when I traveled to the UK and Singapore recently. As soon as I arrived in country I was unable to make any purchases, and had to call the Collect Call international number to get assistance. In addition to knowing where all I was traveling and for how long, they asked for a US-based “emergency contact,” asked if my partner had his card from this joint credit account on his person, and asked if he was traveling with me. I thought it very strange that I had to provide so much information, and I was irritated that I had to deal with it at all.

    On the flip side, I was able to use my non-Citibank debit card and my American Express card (where accepted) throughout the trips with no issues and no calls.

    I think Citibank is gathering too much information, being too protective, and no providing a good travel experience for their customers.

  2. Kate says:


    First I wanted to let you know that I am an employee at Citi Bank. I also wanted to let you know that it’s not “your money”, until you pay your bill. Just incase you didn’t know how credit works? Before you left, did you call and place a travel notification on your account? Per the conditions of your credit (this is when we extend credit to people in the hopes that they pay it back” it states to call anytime your going to be more than 100 miles away from home.

  3. Kate says:

    This is for your protection. We don’t know if you card is lost or stolen. And it is true that Mastcard does block some charges. It’s not Citi that is blocking the charges.

  4. Kate says:

    For example:
    Travelers: John and Jane Smith
    Depart: 07/04/06
    Return: 07/17/06
    Countries: Ireland, France
    Cell Phone: 813-555-1234

    This is an example of what we would ask you for. I know that some of card members are not happy when their card is blocked. But ask yourself this… Would you not be mad if your card was lost or stolen and all kinds of charges were placed on your account? Think about that. It is for your protection. I can only imagine the phone call if this were to happen to you and we had to close the account and get you a new account number, and then we would have to dispute the charges and you would have to wait to get a new card. That really wouldn’t be good would it? But I guess people like yourself get upset when others watch out for your best interest, right?

  5. Katie- First of all your tone is most unacceptable as coming from a vendor to a customer.You patronize me by suggesting I do not know how credit works. My Citibank card is a debit card. It *IS* my money. Kate, what is your last name and your telephone number, please?

    Where I am traveling is frankly none of your business. Katie, where is it that you draw the line with respect to privacy?

    The line about ‘for your protection is nonsense.” I, the cardholder, am protected by law from large debt due to fraud. Citibank, however, would have to bear the majority of the costs. So please don’t suggest that it is for my protection. It is for yours. If my card were lost, I would report it right away. If your database were compromised,, as it was summer of 2006, you would cancel my card as well.

    Citibank, like every other for-profit corporation, is looking out for its own best interest. That’s the nature of business.

  6. JustinFeed says:


    I just want to add two points to Richard’s excellent response:

    1. I have had no issues with Chase or American Express, only Citi. Neither has blocked any transactions or asked for detailed and intrusive personal information, they just provided me the services that I expect to have available wherever I am in the world.

    2. I frequently travel more than 100 miles from home. Citi’s elaborate security and customer tracking systems should be able to understand that when I purchase an airline ticket from my hometown to a destination with my card, and then check in to a hotel there, eat there, and shop there, that it is likely that this is not fraudulent activity, especially for heavy travelers.

    Your response shows just exactly why people like Richard and I complain about Citibank’s service.


  7. Victoria Rose Perkins says:

    Just another victim of Citibank….

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  9. Megan says:

    I would like to comment on a couple of things here. I work for Citibank as well and Kate is correct. If you don’t want to do a travel notification that’s fine. But if you were not traveling and there were lots of charges comming through on your account from outside the county would you really not want us to question that? Becuase if we didn’t and allowed them to go through god knows you would be the first ones complaining on how we allowed the charges to come through. And Citibank or any other credit card company are not responsible for fraudulent charges, the merchant is. That’s why your not responsible fraudulent charges. Do your research some credit card companies have a condition that you are responsible for some portion of fraudulent charges. the top fraudulent charges are airline tickets,electronics,prepaid debit cards,rental cars,and wire transferes. Pleasr do your research before you start talking about something that you know nothing about. And the account compromised was pin numbers not credit card numbers. And there is no grace period either. You might want to read your RICA aggrement. So you guys are the type that if you get a late fee it’s our fault right? It could never be your fault. Instead of complaining about Citibank and the “poor service” then just close your account. Why are you still with Citibank if you hate it so much?

  10. Megan says:

    Correction I ment If we did allow the charges to go through.

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  13. Richard Bluestein says:

    I have heard nasty rumors about rejects with MasterCard and visa. I have used American Express extensively both on business and pleasure trips across north America and error and have NEVER been denied payment. I am not just saying that because I am an employee (I am) nor because my name is the same as this Richards blog (it is), but because I am a picky but satisfied customer. Don’t leave home without it.

  14. Richard Bluestein says:

    I have heard nasty rumors about rejects with MasterCard and visa. I have used American Express extensively both on business and pleasure trips across north America and Europe and have NEVER been denied payment. I am not just saying that because I am an employee (I am) nor because my name is the same as this Richards blog (it is), but because I am a picky but satisfied customer. Don’t leave home without it.

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