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Bishop Park Pier at Night

Don't Get Stuck Without a Back-Up Plan

Authored By: Mark Tremper, Vice-President on 5/5/2023

Have you ever experienced the helpless feeling of having your debit or credit card rejected?  You have a cart full of groceries that were just rung up and the register doesn’t accept your payment.  Or maybe you’re traveling on vacation and you attempt to purchase gas only to see a single dreaded word on the screen in all caps that says “DECLINED”.  What do you do now?

When this happens, it doesn’t always mean that there’s not enough money in your account.  It could mean that the chip on your card is malfunctioning, or maybe your attempted purchase was flagged as a fraudulent transaction. Regardless of the reason, this puts you in an extremely uncomfortable position, especially if there’s a line of people behind you or you are hundreds of miles from home!

According to Pew Research statistics, the number of Americans who don’t carry cash in a typical week has increased by double digits over the past decade.  41% of Americans (4 out of every 10 people) say that none of their purchases in a typical week are paid using cash. Which means that when your card is declined, there is a good chance you don’t have cash on-hand to complete the purchase.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you’re prepared when faced with one of these predicaments:

Carry a second card.

Your back-up card could either be a debit card attached to a second checking account (some would say that this should be at a different financial institution) or a credit card accessing an available line of credit. Just be sure to have the accounts linked so that you can transfer funds between accounts using online or mobile banking.  Linking accounts for transfers can usually be done even if accounts are at a different financial institution.

Add your cards to your smartphone’s “digital wallet”.

Contactless payment technology, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, allows cardholders to make purchases in-store or within apps with just a touch—and you don’t need your card with you to do it!  Of course, if there’s not enough money in the account, this option will not solve that problem.

Carry emergency cash.

The old-fashioned way to be prepared is to carry emergency cash. Just tuck a $100 bill (or more) into your wallet or purse so that if the unexpected happens, you can pull it out to make a payment. Since this should only be used in an emergency, don’t put it with your working cash where you would accidentally spend it, or be tempted to spend it; but if you do, just be sure to replace it right away!

Following all three of these tips is the best way to ensure that you’re protected regardless of whether it’s a technical glitch or human error.

With the warmer weather on its way, we’re all thinking about the things we’re going to do when we can spend more time outside. As you’re planning your summer activities, vacations, or staycations, be sure to plan for those inevitable problems that may arise and spoil your fun!

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