Wells Fargo Sucks as a Travel Card

I tried to think of another way to title this post other than Wells Fargo Sucks, but I couldn’t think of one that did it justice.

This post is really only going to be for the American readers. The bank I use is Wells Fargo … and they suck. I encourage everyone to take their banking somewhere other than Wells Fargo, because they suck and are are horrible for traveling.

Why Wells Fargo Sucks

This is what happened to me today.

I was driving from Karratha in Western Australia to Exmouth. In the morning, I paid for my motel and filled up my camper with my debit card. There were no issues. I was going to withdraw cash, but I didn’t find an ATM machine, so I figured I’d just do it later, when I could find one. I left Karratha at about 8:30 a.m. and stopped at the Nanutarra Roadhouse at about 11:30 a.m. to get more fuel. I had about half a tank.

I fill up, go to pay, and my card is declined. This is the fifth time on my trip this has happened. Every time, it is my bank trying to protect me from fraud by denying me access to all of my money. Every other time, I’ve been able to call the bank and get it straightened out. When I arrived in Australia back in February, I even took the time to call the bank to tell them I was going to be in Australia and NOT to put my card on hold if some system flagged my travel card activity as fraudulent. Even if something is stolen, I’m better off having access to my funds until I can deal with it than having everything cut off.

Well, the number given to me by Wells Fargo to call collect from overseas didn’t work. I didn’t have a credit card to make a credit card call. I ended up having to make a collect call to my parents to get their credit card number just to make a damn phone call to my bank because the number they gave, which was supposed to accept collect calls, didn’t accept collect calls.

They tell me that the fraud flag wasn’t just put up, but that the card was flagged as stolen and that there was nothing they could do to help me until the start of business hours, when I could talk to a supervisor. They caused the problem and now I’m supposed to wait for their office to open to get access to my money. COME ON PEOPLE!

Then they tell me that there is a special number for Australia, and I can call them there. I was never told about this when I went out of the way to contact Wells Fargo back in February to put a travel notice on my card. I was just told to call the number on the back of my card collect (which can’t be done it seems from Australia, even though it says “international”). Also, when I asked about my request for my card not to be suspended to protect me from fraud, I was told that the operators and fraud protection people really don’t have any authority to do that, and I have to talk to someone more senior. I’m sooo glad they told me about this when I made the request.

Also, why would my card be flagged as stolen if I didn’t notify them that it was stolen? Unless I’m telling them it is stolen (which I’d do immediately if it was) I don’t know how they get off flagging it as stolen.

Every time I use my card on my trip I feel like I’m playing Russian Roulette. Today it struck in one of the worst possible places. I felt stupid trying to explain myself to the owner. In the end, he took an old fashioned imprint of my card and I told him to just process it in a day or two.

I very much want to get a new bank, but Wells Fargo wont let me do a wire transfer to another bank unless I show up in person. And I can’t, because I am traveling. They also will not give me another card to have as a backup in case this happens again or if my card is really stolen. Basically, they are holding my money hostage. As of this moment, they wont let me access it, they wont give me a back up, and they wont let me go to another bank.

I realize that I should probably have had some cash or a … travelers check (Really?! Maybe if you choose to travel with a Wells Fargo card you also have to time jump back to the ’90s too). I just needed something just in case of emergency, and now I know that—and to that extent it was my bad.

However, when I explicitly go out of my way to tell my bank not to do this, and they do it, there is no excuse. When they “protect” me like this, it’s as if they are stealing everything I have. The fraud protection is worse than the fraud when you are traveling overseas with a Wells Fargo travel card.

I did make it to Exmouth, where there is an ATM that worked, so I’m not totally screwed, but I still have to wait eight hours for offices to open in the U.S. to get this resolved. I am going to investigate every avenue possible to break all ties with Wells Fargo—maybe I should open a bank account in Singapore.

I certainly will always have my rewards credit cards on me at all times in the future.

In summary Wells Fargo Sucks. I cannot stress this enough. If anyone wants to link to this article, please link it with the phrase “Wells Fargo Sucks” so it will rank high in Google when people search for “Wells Fargo Sucks”.

Read Next: Best Credit Cards for Travel

30 thoughts on “Wells Fargo Sucks as a Travel Card”

  1. Yes im living in the philippines. I have two accounts so two cards. They canceled one of my cards. And the other will expire this month. I broke my leg in a motorcycle accident and came to guam naval hospital to get it fixed. I figured while im here ill call and have the card they canceled reissued and have a new one sent to my philippine adress. After 30 minutes on the phone i think i have everything fixed. I go to kmart to buy some new clothes and supplys to take back with me. They canceled my one good card and reported it as stollen. My girlfre iend borrowed money for me to get back home on. Its been two days since ive eaten. Im suing them . For grouse neglagence and endangerment.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Wells Fargo has gone so overboard with their fraud protection that I’m going to close my accounts and go to another bank. My card gets declined 2-3 times a week – no joke. They once flagged as suspicious a recurring payment to a furniture rental place that I had been making for over a year, and when I talk to the people in their fraud department they clearly have no clue what they’re doing or how to resolve the issue. Last time they told me that a purchase was declined because my card had been flagged 2 weeks earlier – but they could not explain to me why my card had not been declined for all the other purchases I made during that 2 weeks. They also could not explain why the flag had not been lifted when I called in about that issue 2 weeks earlier. And maybe worst of all – they absolutely never contact me when they suspect fraud, they simply decline the transaction. No email about it, no call, no anything. I have to call them to get my card restored, which is generally a 20 minute ordeal.

    So as much of a hassle as it is to close my account and reset all of my automatic payments, I feel I have no choice. I can’t be calling the bank every single week to confirm my transactions. Goodbye, Wells Fargo.

  3. Great post! I couldn’t agree more – Wells Fargo sucks. I have had countless horrible experiences ranging from them telling us just to fly from Hawaii to California to add me to my husband’s account (there are no branches in Hawaii and that’s where we’re stationed) to charging me a fee when they decided not to allow me to deposit a check my husband had written me because it seemed “suspicious.” They didn’t even contact him first!

  4. Fraud protection has definitely gotten overzealous and Wells Fargo is worse than others. They are totally disorganized and extremely sensitive. For instance, they blocked my account while I was abroad (I had told them) because of a preauthorized automatic withdrawal from a newspaper subscription (about $10) that was billed through the US. Since I was abroad this was suspicious to them and I had to re-preauthorize the withdrawals. Other times, they have blocked my card simply because I made a large purchase, like a computer, which is necessarily something you don’t do that often. Most recently, they blocked my card because I bought something online that was billed through France, even though they knew I was in France!! I have never had any sort of fraudulent withdrawals on my account and I have had to call about 10 times to have it unblocked. Their operators have told me themselves, without my even complaining about it, that their fraud protection goes overboard and they get a lot of complaints about it. It has gotten to the point that I know before purchasing something that, because it is slightly different from my usual patterns of consumption, I will have to call and authorize it by telephone.

    This may be a problem at other banks as well, but it doesnt excuse it.

    I strongly recommend Ally Bank, which is online and has no ATM fees anywhere, no account fees, and more normal fraud protection services. They also give better interest rates than most banks with physical locations.

  5. Dude, you really should have used a Travelex card or a travellers card from your bank (Wells Fargo) if they provide one and convert in a Australian dollars. If you run low you just login to your banks website and transfer more finds to your travellers card.

    Small fee upfront but seriously worth it.

  6. Wells Fargo doesn’t just suck, it’s the lowest level of banking scum that graces the earth. They consider themselves an “international” bank but whenever you are overseas you have no way of conducting any transactions – completely hopeless. Then their foul little tricks with CD, they give you a reasonable interest rate for one term, the once the term is up they change it to one tenth and tag a “promotional” rate to another term. How stupid are these idiots, do they think this won’t piss off their customers? You have choices. Don’t even think of considering Wells Fargo, that bank deserves to just go under.

  7. The lack of intellect and inability to manage common-sense tasks is predominant in most of the entries posted here. I travel internationally a few times a year and I proactively contact my bank and credit card company to inform them of my travel plans. I have never had an issue with either my debit/ATM card or credit card. And for those of you who choose to use expletives or derogatory terms, it is not only understandable why these issues happen to you (karma people, karma), but well earned by yourselves.

  8. Bought something today on thanksgiving for my mom and the card was declined.. now I dunno if I will get the items? They say the items might be out of stock.. I really really feel terrible now. I’ve been awake all night to buy this stuff. I will be closing my account with them soon. Hope this does not happen to anybody else :(

  9. You are saying that a whole company sucks because you are disatisfied with 1 product. Thats like saying you hate apple because your ipod nano didn’t work right or all McDonalds food sucks because your coffee was warm once. I think its also absurd that people blame a whole company when they get bad customer service from 1 of their employee’s. Wells Fargo has over a quarter million employee’s. Youre telling me that somehow they found every bad apple in the US and hired them to make your day rotten. In a small business its feasable for the owner to weed out people with crappy customer service skills, but as soon as you get over a couple hundred there is bound to be a bad apple hidden in there somewhere. Its all about expectations. The post office has the worst customer service in the US. But, there aren’t thousands of blogs about their crappy service because everyone just accepts it for what it is. You can put the Post office next to any bank in the US and the bank will look like the Ritz. I was standing in line at a bank recently and the guy behind me was complaining about there only being 3 tellers. I went to the post office and waited 45 min and there was only 1 “teller” and no one said a thing.

    I love how everyone compalins about bank fee’s. A bank is a business, it buys and sells money. Its just like a video store, it sucks when you bring in the movie late, but you still have to pay the late fee. It sucks when you overdraft, but you still have to pay the fee. It sucks when you get a speeding ticket, but guess what it’s your fault!

    I wish people would take some accountability. People have 100% of control over getting a fee, and if they don’t its called bank error, haven’t heard that many people that can’t get a fee reversed because of bank error.

    How about holds on checks! You don’t want a hold?!?! You’re money isn’t in the bank, how are they going to give it to you till it clears the federal reserve? You want the bank to give you a loan with 0% interest until your money shows up?

    How about if you have a problem with your account? If you live in a small town, yeah! call em up, they are just sitting there. But for everyone in a big city. call the 800 number! You’ve been in your bank! there are 10 people in line at all times, and you want to try and talk to someone? I don’t know about you but if I got my lazy butt off the couch and took the time to drive down to the bank and walk in, and wait in line, they better talk to me before some lazy person that just calls in. Most banks have calling centers with 1000’s of people sitting in a room waiting for you to call them…. why call your local branch?

    to the guy with the trust: if all your money is in a trust, it means that who ever put it there didn’t trust your judgment to spend it wisely. Yeah the guy was difficult, but hey what was he really trying to do? Get you to save your money… not blow it all. Give the guy a break.

  10. holy shit dude. thank you. i am in the military and i pcs’d (got orders to move) to korea. upon arrival, i used my debit card a couple times, then all of a sudden my account was closed with money in it, because of potential “fraud” so here i am stuck with no money. i called the fraud department, and they could not verify my identity because i got a question wrong about a street adjacent or not adjacent to my mailing address. it was very ridiculous. did i mention im stuck in another country with no money and i am 14 hours ahead of them? i have to stay up til midnight or later just to speak to someone to give me a goddamn runaround. i dont feel like i should have to check in everytime i go somewhere, whether i pcs or deploy. its seems now, if i dont check in with mommy or daddy (wells fargo) then i wont get my allowance. fuck these motherfuckers.

  11. I’m travelling in Australia as well :) A little over a week before I left to spend 5 months in Australia Wells Fargo turns off my debit card, because of suspicous charges. They ask if I recognize an online transaction from a month ago and I cant really remember so they ask me if I want to turn off my card and get a new one. I explain to them that I am leaving the country and need my debit card so I would rather not in case I dont get the new one in time. They tell me its fine they can put a rush delivery and have it to me in two days. It never comes. I call them 4 days later and ask where my card is and they tell me it takes at least a week, and I told them I put a rush delivery on it, and they said thats impossible to do. So I got stuck going to Australia with almost no money, because its all in the bank and I live on the east coast where there are no Wells Fargos that I could go to in person to make a withdrawal. ( I go to school in the west, which is why I had that bank. ) The second I get back to the US I am closing my account.

  12. I went to China for a business trip. Tried to take money out of an ATM with my wells fargo card and it didn’t work/said to call the bank. I called the wells fargo collect # and the first time I was disconnected. The second time they answered, but didn’t talk for about a minute or two until I started saying what kind of company are you running here on the phone trying to get some attention. The representative said that I had a “fraud hold” on my account and I had spend about 10 minutes proving my identity. After that she removed the fraud hold and said I could withdraw money. I said that i’d try and did, but same BS. I could not get money out. The representative got her supervisor and they said that I had to wait until Monday a.m. and I had to call the Fraud department directly even though they removed the hold. What a screwed up process. Not to mention it is Saturday so I have to wait 2 days to get my money out of this crappy, sucky bank. I asked for compensation for this experience as Wells Fargo has MY MONEY, but won’t let me take it. I will switch if they don’t come back with a good retention plan.

  13. 2009 and Wells Fargo is still as bad as ever. I have a Auto loan , I called them to see if I could get a late fee waived. ( that was my fault I lost my job, father died, bad car accident, basically life happened) after being transferred more than 5 times I spoke to a man that told me to write a hardship letter and fax it. Then he told me if I make a payment with him right now it would look really good and help me get the late payments fee waived. It was the 13th of the month and my payment was due 23. I asked him was there a fee and he said yes, but would waive it. I told him if the fee was waived I would make the payment. So when I looked at my bank statement on the 23 it was short by $10 I knew were to look. I have been told by two supervisors that if I could pay the car payment I should be able to pay $10.00 / they told me I did ok the charge and to stop complaining/ , and if that was not enough then the guy asked me how did I want to pay the late charges…Are you kidding me..REALLY..I gave him my account number ..123..when hell freezes over..and put a little something extra for him too.. What have I learned …If I don’t have the money in the bank I can’t buy it EVER….and to get a new car loan with USAA my new Credit Union.. Thanks for listening

  14. 2009 and Wells Fargo is still as bad as ever. I have a Auto loan , I called them to see if I could get a late fee waived. ( that was my fault I lost my job, father died, bad car accident , Yes in one year) after being tranfered more than 5 times I spoke to a man that told me to write a hardship letter and fax it . Then he told me if I make a payment with him right now it will look really good and help me get the late payments fee wavied. It was the 13 of the month and my payment was due 23, I asked him was there a fee and he said yes, but would waive it. I told him if the fee was waived I would make the payment. So when I looked at me bank statement on the 23 it was short by $10 I knew were to look. I have been told by two mgrs that one if I could pay the car payment I should be able to pay 10.00 / they told me I did ok the charge and to stop complaining/ , and if that was not enoght then the guy asked me how did I want to pay the late charges…Are you kidding me..REALLY..I gave him my account number ..123..when hell freezes over..and put a litle something extra for him too.. What have I learned …If I dont have the money in the bank I can not buy it ….and to get a new loan with USAA my new credit Union Thanks for lisening

  15. I was driving from Kurrunth or something in Western Australia to Exmouth. ——– is this true?

  16. Try switching to US Bank. When I traveled to Australia, I had no hassles with them. I believe they are affiliated with Westpac bank over there. My debit card worked every time and was accepted everywhere I went. Making the purhcases with the debit card was better than cash because the bank automatically converted the currency and debited my account in the appropriate amount of US dollars with no fee like you would have with a regurlar currency exchange.

  17. My brother and I are both private clients with Wells Fargo and I am writing to you today to tell you about some of my customer service experiences with Ben Boody.
    My experience with Mr. Boody has not been satisfactory and nothing less than pure harassment. So much, that I’ve become completely beside myself about calling your customer care team. This is something that has literally caused me to lose sleep over with worry.
    Today I called to ask for an appointment with a manager to discuss this situation. Ben responded to my request by asking me questions about why I was unhappy. When I began telling him he repeatedly talked over me (loudly and aggressively.) As I had come to expect, the discussion began to escalate so I asked Ben for his manager’s contact information. He simply said he’s not in right now. After some prompting, he offered your name. When I specifically asked for a manager’s phone number he would not give it to me, and he never did.
    The experience I had with Ben prior to this one was a conversation about a disbursement request for a calculator for one of my college courses. Ben first tried to deny this request and said I should budget it into my current expenses.
    The state of Texas mandates my health and education be provided for by the trust. He is in direct violation to that agreement.
    In my phone call with him today, the calculator came up in conversation again. This time (and only when) I recited the state agreement to him he fully agreed that a disbursement should be made. This only proves that the time and frustration spent discussing it previously was for the sole purpose of making things difficult for me. There within lies the definition of harassment.
    Other times Ben has informed me of his own personal money situation as if to compare my situation to his. (Groceries, gas, etc.) I fail to see what relevance that has to my life and why I should have to waste my time discussing those things. If we are to compare life styles, let’s compare everything. Housing, car, salary, etc. and perhaps whether his father (and support) died at the age of 14. For that matter I’d be glad to accept his monthly salary as my new monthly expense amount.
    I have also experienced having discussions and determining that specific things will be paid for by the trust only to be turned down by Customer Care when it comes time for the disbursement to occur.
    According to your own website one of your company’s policy’s are to “Do what you say you are going to do.” Perhaps the Trust Officer’s should work closer with the Customer Care Team for the sake of providing better customer service.

  18. Well, I travel all over the world and need a credit that works. Used to bank with Wells Fargo and then with Bank of America. Both suck as customer goes and you will have serious problems with either. I now deal with no one except USAA and travel to Korea, Japan, Thailand and quite often to the Philippines. Not once had a problem, get money or what ever I want anywhere, simply and easy. Bank of America used to be a fairly good bank (it never did meet standards I prefer) but now it’s OK if you are an Illegal or Criminal, that’s who they have decided to accomodate. No for me thank you. DAMoonDog…Love to travel, need good service!

  19. I have never used debit card so I never experience it. But I know that even with credit card sometimes we will get flaged and put it on hold even when we traveled within the country.

    Is there a reason why you choose to use debit card instead of credit card? I’m just curious as to why. I noticed that the currency conversion on my credit card gets charge extra 2% when I use my credit card purchase in the foreign country. Is this the reason?

  20. Just as a note to finding a new bank. I use ING (ingdirect.com) they are an internet bank, run great rates (currently i get 3% on my savings and 1.7% on my checking) and i have never had any issues with getting my cash overseas. What happens is you sign up for an account and then “link” with another landlocked bank account. Then they “charge you bank what ever you want to deposit just like it was a purchase and they drop the money into your account. It takes about 2-3 days for your money to show up as available. No fees or anything like that. They are perfect for the traveller. They give users promotion codes if you are interested in an account shoot me an email and i will send you a request. BTW First post but a long time reader. Love your blog. We leave on our RTW Dec. 2008 and have learned a lot about the south pacific from your blog

  21. Get a life people. There are a ton of other issues more important to focus on. If you are so down on the US Banking community open your account overseas and see how they do when you are back in the US. You expect privacy and security with no consequences? Get used to the inconvenience.

    • Bob I’m with you 100%. After 9/11 everyon complained about the inconvenience of airport security. This isn’t the 90’s anymore, there is 10x the ammount of fraud. Who travels with just 1 card? As far as a credit union goes while traveling. I don’t suggest it. A lot of them have limited calling centers, so if something happened good luck trying to get ahold of them. And for wiring money, a lot of them don’t have wire numbers so you have to use 1 or 2 intermediary credit unions just to wire. The us banking system is perfectly fine. In south america only 35% of the population can even get an account.

  22. Like others have said, its not just WF. The entire consumer banking system in the US has been going downhill for the last decade. I had the exact problem with my credit card getting declined at the same store 2 days in a row, despite being told on the phone after the first purchase it wouldn’t be a problem. And this is just a few blocks from my house.

    Not to mention the overdraft “protection” that banks are now charging $30 a pop for, making sure to clear the largest checks first to get the most in fees.

  23. The same thing happens to me with Wells Fargo when I go back to Minneapolis and try to use it as a Credit Card. As long as you use it as a Debit card, you’re fine – since you’re entering your pin.

    Yes, and the fact that the Fraud Line is only open during business hours is incredibly frustrating.

    You might be better off using a boutique banker. (i don’t exactly know how you would do that at this point).

    I’ve heard really good things about Washington Mutual, as well.

  24. I have had the same problems with Wells Fargo. It is incredibly frustrating. I have stopped notifying them when I am traveling, and for some reason that seems to have helped. However, it hasn’t stopped the nonsense completely. I understand worrying about fraud, but honestly…

    I do always travel with a credit card in addition to my ATM card for this very reason. For some reason they don’t get wierded out about travel — just my bank. Oh, and don’t get me started about what happened when my card information actually WAS stolen. Ugh.

  25. Look into joining a credit union. I’ve put my guys through all kinds of logistical nightmares these past fives years while on the road and they’ve performed like champions. And when i returned to the States and no one would give my “no credit” ass a mortgage loan without a co-signer, they tackled that too.

  26. Hate to break it to you but it’s not just Wells Fargo. I’ve had the exact same problem while traveling with my Bank of America cards.

    They continued to flag my card after 3 years of me living in Chile and calling them constantly to tell them NOT to flag me. The address on my damn account is in Chile, yet they STILL flagged my card for being used in Chile.

    I just stopped using it.

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