About a month ago I found myself on the phone with the bank, frantically trying to figure out why my debit card was being declined.
As a budgeter, I know how much money is in my checking account at all times. So when I swiped my card at the Dollar Tree and it came back as declined I knew something was up.
Had my account been hacked? My card number been stolen? Was there a problem with the system at the Dollar Tree. No, no and no.
When I called my bank I was told that my card had been canceled. Um... what?
My plain Jane debit card had been canceled in favor of a new type of card that contained a super nifty security chip. These cards are supposed to be extra secure and protect consumers. Great! That's great. No for real, I am super excited... but where is the card??
The bank assured me the card had been sent to me months ago and all of the old cards were canceled. Without warning.
Needless to say, I was a little irritated. Why had no one called me to let me know my card would be canceled and where was this new fancy one they had sent me?
I mean come on! Who has more information about you than your bank? Someone could have sent a letter, an email heck! Even a text message. But nope.
I was told it must have been an error on their part. They apologized and told me it would be three days before a new card arrived. But they were expediting it at no charge to me. How sweet.
Real quick side note: I just want to say that I went out of my way to be super, super, super nice to the costumer service representative at the bank. It wasn't her fault. She didn't personally do this. And you always have a choice in how you treat people. ALWAYS. It doesn't matter if you're having a bad day. It's not that person's fault. Don't take it out on them.
Here is the thing, my bank is really far away. This was the bank we had when we lived in Atlanta and when we moved we just didn't switch banks. We liked their higher interest rates and the fact we could earn sky miles through a debit card (since I don't use a credit card). So we just stayed with them.
But the closest branch from where we live now is two hours round trip. And I didn't have any cash with me and my husband travels a lot. Also, it's 2016, so the gas station doesn't take checks.
I was a little fearful of how I would go for three days with two small children and no access to my money.
But I also had to recognize that I am not blameless. This was the perfect storm for bad banking business and I had an equal part of the blame.
Lesson 1: I need to pay better attention.
When my husband got a new debit card with a shiny chip and I didn't I probably should have realized something was up.
I have the tendency to go on autopilot, to only focus on what's in front of me and not worry about small things like my bank card looking different. While this is often a blessing, not sweating the small stuff, sometimes those small things need to be assessed.
Lesson 2: I need to have cash on hand.
I hate carrying cash. When I was in college I worked as a hostess and waitress at a local restaurant. One day my wallet was stolen. At the time, Alabama still put social security numbers on driver's licenses so the thief had ALL they needed to steal my identity. (I will write a post all about that later.)
But the more distressing thing at the time was that I had lost two days worth of tips. As a broke college kid that stung and it's kind of put me off carrying cash forever.
But I still need to do it. I need to keep a small amount of cash with me to cover things like gas or a small emergency with the kids.
What about you? Have you found yourself in a similar situation?