Using Visa and Mastercard Emergency Cash Assist

Three things I wish I knew before I asked for emergency cash from Visa

Visa, Mastercard and American Express have a handy feature for travellers: emergency cash assistance. Lost wallet, stolen bags, silly mistakes – there are a thousand reasons why you may need this service. I used Visa emergency cash assistance when I lost my wallet in San Diego, in the United States. You call up your bank and cancel your credit card, and a replacement can be sent to your home in Australia or to an address overseas. This takes some time. Your credit card provider should be able to arrange for a temporary replacement, which is what I went for, but there are other ways to access the money in your account while you wait for your temporary card to arrive. Here are three things I learned about the process.


1. Don’t receive any calls. Period.

You get charged for receiving incoming calls when you’re in the United States. My bank in Australia, Westpac, gave me a reverse charge number to call from America. This was fine when I was making outgoing calls, but I also had to receive a few calls from Visa. What I didn’t know at the time was you get charged for receiving international calls as well as making them. If Visa asks to call you back, say ‘no’. Say that you’ll call Visa’s reverse charge number after an agreed period of time. This will probably mean you have to make one or two calls more than you have to, but it’s better than being charged to receive calls by your telecommunications provider. Long story short, Optus hit me up for over $300 in international call charges when I got back home.


2. The details you tell Visa must exactly match the details your bank has on file.

A big problem for me was getting the Visa representative to understand how the Australian address format works. I must have spent 2-3 hours on the phone trying to get the point across. Visa representatives are based in the United States, and they use a different address format to what we do in Australia. After a couple of phone calls and half a day wasted without cash, I eventually explained the situation to Westpac, who was able to speak to Visa on my behalf. I strongly suggest you ask a customer service representative at your bank to contact Visa or Mastercard for you.


3. Emergency card replacement is the way to go.

It’s easier to request an emergency replacement card from Visa or Mastercard than it is to request emergency cash. The replacement service is actually pretty good; it only took a day or two for the UPS man to deliver my new card. In hindsight, I would have just asked for the replacement card and not bothered with the emergency cash. I was with friends and they were in a position to spot me for a day or two. Instead, I battled on with the emergency cash request only to spend an entire day on the phone and to have the card rock up mere hours after the emergency cash request was finally approved. Although, if I was on my own, I would pursue the emergency cash option.

The Visa and Mastercard Emergency Assist services will come in handy should anything happen to your card, so make sure to have the relevant emergency contact details in your phone and report the issue as soon as possible. In the case of an emergency, always make sure to have more than one travel money option as a backup. If you’re using a prepaid card, see if you can get an additional card, and also make sure you have cash and a credit card for emergencies. They say you should never carry all of your eggs in one basket, and it’s especially true when it comes to dealing with your travel money options.

Visa overseas emergency cash assistance

You can place a collect call from anywhere in the world to Visa emergency services by calling +1 303 967 1090. If you’re in Australia, call 1800 450 346. These numbers are free and available to contact any time of the day and week. A Visa representative will be able to help you with an emergency cash request or issuing a temporary emergency card.

Note: Calls to toll-free numbers from mobile phones may still attract international call charges.

Mastercard overseas emergency cash assistance

The Mastercard website has a directory of numbers for Mastercard emergency contacts in different countries. Alternatively, you can make a call to Mastercard in the United States (1-636-722-7111) and they can direct your call. You can also reach Mastercard via your bank if you’re calling them first to report your card as lost or stolen.

Mastercard overseas emergency cash assistance numbers

These numbers are toll free and available to call anytime. The country code needs to be included.

Country Contact number
Australia 1-800-198-124
India 000-800-440-5196
UK 0800-96-4767
USA and Canada 1800-307-7309
Hong Kong 800-96-7832
Singapore 800-110-1702
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