Issues Using Debit Cards Overseas

In January this year 2023 my wife and myself were booked on a trip to Antarctica, we were taking a ING Debit card each, on arrival in Santiago Airport, l attempted to get local cash from the auto-teller, but being in Spanish, l must have made 3 unsuccessful attempts. This caused both my wife’s debit card and my own to be cancelled for the rest of the trip.
No matter how many times l attempted to ring ING in Australia, had to wait 50 mins or more, they couldn’t do anything, they cannot change PIN number for you, internet from there will not allow change either… ING don’t have free phone calls from these two countries and others.
Luckily from experience we had MeBank Debit cards as well, otherwise we would have been destitute.


Hi @eastgolf22, I modified your title to capture what can be a pervasive issue during international travel.

That was a seriously poor experience but ING would not be alone. After 3 failed attempts ATMs sometimes even ‘eat’ the card and do not return it. While a replacement debit card can often be dispatched at some cost and days delay, it does not solve a frozen card account.

As far as providing a new PIN the phone agents have no way of validating who you are despite a customer having 100% authoritative answers for an account. eg Was the account hacked? They do not know, especially when the caller is on a foreign network or foreign phone number.

Few banks have globally accessible toll free numbers. It is not just ING. Many accept ‘collect calls’ to cater to travellers but even those incur wait times. For example from ANZ:

To make a reverse charge call from overseas to the numbers above, contact the international operator in the country you are calling from, using a LANDLINE, and request to be transferred to ANZ via reverse charge. If you dial the number directly, you may be charged for the call. The overseas reverse charge number is NOT available through mobile phones.

Hopefully your experience may help numerous others.

Some countries have multi-lingual ATMs, some do not allow selection of cheque/savings/credit and have a single default that doesn’t translate to a successful withdrawal. When encountering a foreign language only ATM apps such as google translate can ‘read’ and translate fairly well, but ‘listening’ and translating can be hit or miss. Other ‘traps’ are some countries use 6 digit PINs and entering our 4 usually (not always?) as 001234 or 123400 will be a failed try if it was rejected, and trying both is 2 strikes if both are rejected, so be wary.

In the USA many ATMs ask for one’s 5-digit ZIP (postal) code. Another one needing padding with a zero but having tried that a few years ago it failed with an invalid ZIP since the number did not exist in the US postal system.

This ANZ page has some good pointers to be aware of as they apply to many cards and many issuers.


I have also unexpectedly lost access to a card while overseas. That is why I (like you) always make sure I have a second way to pay. I also carry enough cash for emergency use.

I take a debit and credit card on overseas travel. I use the debit card as it is free free, but the credit card is there in case of need. The credit card has the additional benefit of being useful for hotel deposits, so I suggest getting one if you are able to.


Probably not your issue on this one but worth calling out…
A tip when using any cards in an atm or similar outside Australia - check the key pad carefully before entering PIN - the keypad layouts vary depending on where you are - sometimes the numbers start from 0 at the bottom, other times, the 0 is where we expect the 1 to be. If you are tired and muscle memory kicks in, you could be doing the same pattern as you do at home, however the position of the number is different. I think we get used to this when online banking (ING certainly moves their online keypad around when using app or online) but when it comes to physical atms you don’t see that, or expect it.

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Welcome to the community @CGtalks
A useful observation. I’ve been caught a few times over the decades. No need to be OS to find there are variations in keypads on the POS machines or with ATM keys and prompts. So far when OS we’ve not encountered an ATM in a regular tourist location that does not offer English as an onscreen option. For the non numeric keys on POS card readers though one is somewhat in the hands of the merchant’s staff in selecting credit or direct debit for cards which allow both.

To add to the issues, a cross link to a related topic of xrate rorting. An older topic about a practice to be aware of. FWIW our Australian banks have been known to ‘sock it to’ foreign tourists too, so it is not just ‘us’ being ‘there’.

It seems to more recently started on web sites if one is not careful. When given the option to use multiple currencies it is easy to pick $AUD for convenience, but often selecting $USD or € or even sometimes £ gets a smaller charge to the Aussie account because the Visa/Mastercard xrates get used, not the seriously poor one offered by a foreign institution. Also be aware of those pesky 3% foreign currency / offshore fees on most cards.

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