Credit card companies team up with mobile companies to cut travel fraud

A couple of months ago I met a Head for Points reader who worked for a major mobile phone company who told me about an exciting new security product he was working on for the credit card industry.  MBNA has now launched this in the UK, in conjunction with 02.

Most of us, at one point or another, will have had problems using a credit card abroad due to suspected fraud.  A couple of years ago, MBNA suspended my card for the following series of ‘suspicious’ transactions – bought stuff in London, bought stuff at Heathrow, bought a subway ticket at JFK airport in New York.  Yup, looks suspicious to me ….

However, there is one utility which knows you are abroad the second you arrive – your mobile phone network.  As soon as you turn on your phone, your home network is notified and you are sent the statutory message about foreign pricing.

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The new Bon Voyage service from 02 takes advantage of this data.  Once you have given 02 your consent, they will tell MBNA every time your mobile phone is activated abroad.  Card transactions in that country should then be processed without any trouble.

This service is currently being rolled out to selected invitees.  If you have not been invited, make sure that your o2 mobile number is registered in your MBNA profile to improve your chances of being invited into the next wave.

(Don’t forget the small print though!  “Bon Voyage is not available in the following countries: Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone, Angola, Syria, Sudan and Burma.”  Not a concern for most of us, luckily.)

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  1. Sir Stamford says:

    “Bon Voyage is not available in … Myanmar … and Burma”.

    Myanmar and Burma are, of course, the same country.

    Sir Stamford

  2. esperluette says:

    I hope they include Burma soon.up and coming tourist destination!

  3. Boddingtons says:

    I’m almost certain that LLoyds TSB issued supplementary Avios Duo cards with the same card number too.

  4. Does this work with giffgaff?

    And it’s O2 (or even O2, not 02…

    • flibbly says:

      Yes it does (or at least I got informed about it by MBNA, and they hold my giffgaff number)

  5. Spelling Bee says:

    It is O2 not 02

  6. Frenske says:

    Mmm actually that’s is not a bad idea, provided they do it safely. I don’t want everybody (e.g. burglars) to know that I am away.

    Here is another idea: why don’t banks and credit card companies not have an option on your account page/mobile app to say your abroad.

    • HSBC HK won’t let you withdraw cash abroad unless you enable it on your online banking. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to do it if you don’t have online banking (old people)

    • callum says:

      Some of them do. The others either let you tell them in advance via other means (email/phone/in branch) or don’t need to be told.

  7. Nick Burch says:

    MBNA already suggest that you text them to let them know that you’re going away – – but I’ve never tried it (card has always worked fine abroad without telling them!).

    I’ve previously had issues with Lloyds blocking cards for such unusual things as “being in America and ordering something from Amazon UK to be delivered to my house on my return” and “being abroad while having a recurring UK payment go through”, needless to say I’ve long since given up on Lloyds!

  8. Lady London says:

    Best not to have your mobile phone and your credit card stolen by the same person at the same time, then 🙂

  9. Sounds like a great idea, I’d be happy to opt-in so my card doesn’t get blocked abroad 🙂