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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Jessica, who ran into trouble with an expired credit card. Here’s what she had to say:
I decided to plan a surprise welcome home getaway for my husband, who was scheduled to return from his deployment a week before the Fourth of July. In April I found awesome deals online for a trip to D.C. over the holiday. I booked our flights, and reserved our hotel on the company’s website (not through a third party). My husband returned home, and we both were excited about our upcoming trip.
We got to D.C. without any hiccups, but things began to go sideways when we tried to check in at our hotel. We were told not only did we not have a reservation, but also the hotel was sold out. Impossible, I thought, and I pulled out my confirmation email. They checked their system and discovered the problem.
The credit card I used was valid when I booked our stay in April, but it had expired at the end of June. On the morning of our arrival, the hotel tried to authorize the card for the total, and since my card came back invalid, they canceled our reservation.
Learn from my mistake and always check credit card expiration dates and confirm you still have a reservation before arriving. I should’ve known better, because I had previously run into trouble with an expired debit card abroad. (In that case, thankfully, I had more than one.)
Credit card issuers will typically send you a replacement card before your active one expires, but while your account number should stay the same, the expiration date and security code will likely change. That means the old and new cards can’t be used interchangeably, so you’ll have to update your information for future purchases like recurring payments or reservation holds, or even airfare if your carrier requires passengers to present the card used for payment. As Jessica’s story shows, forgetting that step can be costly.
I recommend treating expiring credit cards like you would an expiring passport: renew them in advance if possible, and don’t use them for charges that might be processed close to or beyond the expiration date. Hotels and rental car companies will generally let you use whatever card you have on hand to settle your bill, so don’t worry about which one you provide initially — as long as it’s valid, you can swap it out later for one that offers a good return on travel purchases.
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Jessica for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.
Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!
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