Okay.. I had a bit of a scare yesterday… largely caused by the excess power banks have nowadays…
Yesterday morning, whenever I tried to get money from an ATM it showed a message stating the transaction was cancelled by my bank.. I thought maybe they were having issues, but a few hours later it still didn’t work, so I asked my parents to check it out.. Than, yesterday evening (local time) I got a message that my VISA had been blocked, yet the card I had been having issues with was my regular MAESTRO card (which they said should be working fine).. So here I was – on the other side of the planet – thinking I had no working card left.. and with only 20$ cash remaining.
So I rushed to an ATM to try my MAESTRO card again and, miraculously, this time it worked fine.. But since I don’t like carying much cash on me – rarely ever more then 50€ – and I need a credit card to pay for my hotels, I went to a small night shop to try the VISA.. and surprisingly, it too worked, even though blocked according to the bank. I guess the bank was making mistakes, maybe confusing a new VISA card (current one is about to expire) with a replacement for a blocked card, I don’t know.. thing is these things can be awfully impredictable abroad..
And it s about to get even worse: belgian banks have got this brilliant idea: disable the MAESTRO function for getting cash from ATM outside Europe.. supposedly to fight crime.. but more than 90% of the abuse they are trying to block occurs within the EU, in countries like Spain, where it will keep working fine. So this no doubt is just another way of forcing customers to credit cards which are much more expensive when getting cash from an ATM abroad.. All major Belgian banks are in on this, at least some smaller ones (in Belgium) like Deutsche Bank aren’t playing this ugly game.. guess it ‘s time to switch banks.. 🙄