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I have read the benefits page of Visa credit card, and it says they offer Cash Disbursement in case the card is stolen and they have a Global Customer Care number people can call and they will offer the cash:

Lost, stolen or damaged card? Need emergency cash?

Visa credit cardholders can get an emergency cash advance disbursed or a card replaced within one business day, or in some cases, within 24 hours, after approval.

Benefit at a glance

Call Visa Global Customer Care Services at 1-800-VISA-911 for assistance with a card replacement and/or an emergency cash disbursement. Toll-free phone numbers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Benefit details

How do I get emergency cash? A Visa Global Customer Care Services associate (1-800-VISA-911, or call one of our global toll-free numbers) will work with you and your financial institution for approval and Visa will arrange a convenient location for you to collect the emergency cash.

Is this reliable for travelers? has anyone tried it and it actually worked? the "after approval" part sound suspicious to me..

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So it's global customer care with a phone number that will only work in USA? –  vartec Jan 7 '13 at 11:27
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@vartec There is a list of local numbers, but you can call this Global number from any where I suppose.. –  MeNoTalk Jan 7 '13 at 12:04
    
you cannot call 1-800 numbers from abroad (same goes for 0-800 numbers in Europe). –  vartec Jan 7 '13 at 13:32
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Well, I just called it from my non-US phone, and they answered.. So Yes, you can call it from any where but calling the local number would be cheaper... –  MeNoTalk Jan 7 '13 at 13:36
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@vartec: National toll free numbers are at least usually reachable from abroad, although the caller is charged regular international rates. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jan 7 '13 at 15:45
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Some of my advice is the exact opposite of Ankur's!

I've lost my VISA card three times travelling, all three times in countries without their own VISA offices: Vietnam circa 2000, Nicaragua circa 2007, and Georgia in 2012. I only took advantage of the "emergency cash" assistance on the second occasion.

I've also met travellers with lost, stolen, or blocked cards both overseas when I've been a traveller, and at home in Australia where I work in a backpacker hostel. The last time was just today in Bangkok!

One reason VISA offers a USA-based "universal" emergency number is because when you can't call a local VISA office it's a useful backup. It turns out that at least some US 800 numbers work internationally, unlike some other toll-free numbers in other countries. It probably will incur a toll when called internationally, but should still work.

  • In Vietnam the first time I went to a telephone & Internet place. First I used the Internet and Googled three VISA office phone numbers in nearby countries. I was a bit pessimistic that I'd be lucky on the first number, and this turned out to be the case. The VISA people were very professional and efficient and spoke quickly and coherently knowing I was paying for a long-distance call. They cancelled my card before anybody who stole or found it had a chance to use it. I didn't need emergency cash this time.

  • In Nicaragua the second time I borrowed the Internet and telephone in a bookshop and tried same procedure as last time. This time I couldn't manage to find a way to call any of the numbers toll-free or reverse charges. I ended up calling the VISA emergency number in Australia after several false starts but then had to reimburse the bookshop for what was probably an expensive call with no real way to know exactly how much the call would cost.
    Again the VISA staff were efficient and professional and did not waste unnecessary time. This time I needed both an emergency VISA card and emergency cash as I had had my whole wallet stolen, not just the VISA card as previously.
    I was able to get emergency cash on the same day if I could make it to a Western Union branch before closing time. The branch was reasonably close to my hostel and I managed to jog their and get cash to pay back the bookshop and pay my hostel and living costs while waiting a few more days for my emergency card.

  • In Georgia the third time I ended up using Skype and can't recall if I called VISA or my bank. I didn't need emergency cash but did need an emergency card. This time the bank would only send the two cards (VISA and ATM) by courrier, separately, at a cost of $50 each! This annoyed the hell out of my so I didn't get the replacement cards sent. Luckily it turned out a friend of a friend was soon going to Australia and returning to Georgia and he brought me my cards, saving the $100.

  • Today in Bangkok a Canadian guy at my hostel called the VISA emergency number in Thailand, which does have its own VISA office - but was told the emergency money would take 24 hours! He's flying tonight so had to find another way to get some emergency money.

  • Various other times I have met people who cancelled lost or stolen VISA (or MasterCard) cards via their bank rather than directly via the card companies' emergency hotlines. Several of these had ended up as nightmares of incompetence taking months before the people had access to their funds again! For this reason I advise everybody in this predicament to report their missing cards to VISA if possible before bothering to contact their bank. The people on the VISA hotline are experts who deal with lost and stolen cards in every combination of citizen X in country Y every day. People working in banks mostly do other stuff and can mess up when your card goes missing in some exotic locale.

TL;DR

Call the VISA lost/stolen card hotline before your bank unless you have a special relationship with your bank and trust them not to make things worse before they make them better.

I've personally got emergency money on the same day in an exotic location. But I've personally tried to help somebody in a similar predicament in a less exotic location where they couldn't get the money on the same day.

I don't know why I didn't had to wait and he did. It could be extra security against fraud and identify theft over the past dozen years. It could be due to arcane rules and regulations beyond VISA's control that differs from country to country.

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Nice and informative answer. It is nice to know that this will work even if it takes 24 hours. –  MeNoTalk Aug 31 '13 at 12:19
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I recently faced this situation while travelling. One of my bank debit cards was cancelled by the bank since they found out an online merchant I had used had been hacked.

You should first contact your bank directly. Many of them provide 'emergency cash' services at their branches around the globe, while some (such as NatWest) can give you an emergency cash code that can be entered on on their own ATMs to withdraw cash.

Visa's Global Assistance hotline is actually pretty useful too (and they do provide toll-free numbers specific to each country). However, you should note that this service is NOT free and your bank account will typically be charged a transaction fee for the cash advance that you get.

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Working in the department that processes these requests for a pretty major Australian bank, I'd say that Visa is quite reliable. Never had a complaint from a customer that has contacted Visa for this service. –  jimsug Apr 17 '13 at 5:52
    
Well not exactly each country, as some countries have VISA offices and some don't. I always lost my VISA cards in the latter kind of country (-: –  hippietrail Aug 31 '13 at 11:40
    
Ankuur I will choose the other answer, sorry for this but it is more informative :) –  MeNoTalk Aug 31 '13 at 12:18
    
The thing to note about Visa's service is that it's not free. So if your own bank can provide you money for no / lower fee, check that first! –  Ankur Banerjee Sep 1 '13 at 12:50
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