If you need emergency cash, do they send you some sort of code and you get the money from the ATM without any card? Or, do you have to show your ID at a local partner of the service to get cash? You would be screwed if you lose your ATM cards and IDs, which could often be the case.

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    I think it might depend on your provider. Natwest give you a special code you enter into a cash machine, but based on how much of a fuss their advertising makes of the feature, I think that's not all that common
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 14:47
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    Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/11569/…
    – Eugene O
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 14:57
  • @EugeneO: that's surely related, although I care about how it is paid, and that question about when they decide to pay. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 15:02
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    @EugeneO: yes, I just wanted to make sure that my question was not closed right away. Some people just from the hip and press the close button. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 15:16
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    @Gagravarr The Natwest solution seems to be a proprietary solution within their own banking network, as you can't get the cash at any ATM, but only at some selected ATMs from operators within the RBS group. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


The general process is that:

  1. You contact your scheme (eg Visa, Mastercard, American Express) and advise that you need emergency cash (because your card has been lost, stolen, damaged, etc). At this stage you provide certain information to them, commonly name, date of birth, address, SSN (if applicable), mother's maiden name and so on.

  2. Your scheme will transmit this information to your issuing institution (if applicable), who will then have their own processes for verifying that you are who you say you are. They then either approve or decline this request.

  3. If it is approved, your scheme will contact a wire transfer company - usually Western Union - and arrange for the emergency cash to be provided. They will separately give you information like a control number, and provide Western Union with information that you can verify yourself with in the event that you have lost your ID. This could be secret questions, for example.

    Alternatively, you can also, subject to your issuing institution's approval, authorise Western Union to release the funds to someone else. This could be someone you're travelling with who still has their ID, for example. Again, this depends on whether your issuing institution will approve this, but I've approved such requests in the past.

So, to address your question in brief: very rarely do you obtain the emergency cash from an ATM, generally you will obtain it from a wire transfer company; in the event you lose your ID, you still have options.

  • So, just to confirm, I won't get an emergency ATM card while traveling? And, I'd could be better off asking family and friends to wire me money through Western Union? Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:52
  • You can get an emergency card while travelling but that is a separate/additional/different service - also, while you could get family/friends to wire you money through WU if that's an option, this is a good fallback for those who don't have or can't get in contact with family/friends who can help.
    – jamessug
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 23:25

The latest common international banks practice needs you to activate your card for international use in advance. When you withdraw in another country, you need to key in your same pin.

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    That isn't true everywhere. Banks are moving away from this "pre-activation" requirement in the UK.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:18
  • As you said in UK. Does UK represents the world? If as you said UK banks are moving away but have all banks had done this?
    – Ben
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:32
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    I am looking to localize your answer a little, because it doesn't align with my experiences. No doubt it is true in many cases; I am aware that the US banks are very paranoid about foreign transactions. Are banks of any other particular country like this as well? UK banks no longer consider foreign transactions suspicious.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:39
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    Could you expand your answer with the source for that information, including what "most banks" means? As I say, it's not that I disbelieve your explanations, but I have found in practise most banks I deal with do not seem to be worried about it.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:04
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    This does not answer the question, in which it is clear there is no card to put in the ATM.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 5:23

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