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Nationwide Debit Card Useless Abroad

January 23, 2017

Nationwide customers should be aware that Flex Account debit cards are useless when traveling outside Europe as the Nationwide automatically blocks the first transaction in any country outside Europe and it is not always possible to phone them to get the account unblocked – for example the phone numbers quoted on debit cards are likely to be out of date, and we are not adequately warned of such changes.

You can inform Nationwide that you are traveling outside Europe but the automated fraud detection system ignores this. This is not the case with other banks. The Nationwide has persistently refused to say in writing whether all such transactions abroad are blocked or not, in spite of the fact that we are constantly told over the phone and in branches there is nothing to worry about – there are new algorithms.  Our experience is sufficient to conclude that the first transaction in any country outside Europe will be blocked.

In the latest incident Nationwide’s message to the card holder was sent 12 and a half hours after the attempted transaction. It was a miracle he had enough cash, otherwise he would now be in a Miami jail having missed his flight home, he had to leave all his possessions with a restaurant while he found a bureau de change.

We ask as a minimum that the Nationwide admits publicly that using a debit card abroad is at best problematical, but we fail to see why their fraud detection algorithm cannot be altered so as to take note of what the customer has told them. We fail to see how this is unfair to some members as they claim. They are not listening.

Unlike the board of a bank which is at least answerable to its major shareholders, the Nationwide board, which is in theory answerable to members, would only listen if at least half of all members voted not to reappoint directors whose term had expired.

And by the way, prepaid money cards are not accepted by everyone; if you want to pay to change your flight details tough luck. You need another bank account or a credit card.

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