In my recent financial travel tip about prepaid travel cards, a reader and fellow nomad brought up an interesting point about renewing cards while traveling:
He was unsure of his ability to renew his credit card after traveling for a few years, since he has no plans to return home, and his mailing address in Canada is that of a friend, who he surmised wouldn’t be able to help.
Concerns about the credit bureau being willing to renew at all given his time out of the country were also raised.
How do I arrange to get my renewal credit card?
There are two ways you can get your renewal credit card while traveling (I’ve used both):
Call the credit card company about 2 months prior to renewal and give them your current address abroad. Sometimes they’ll send it to you, sometimes they won’t.
If you do manage to get them to send it abroad, make sure you call them back as soon as you receive it and tell them to strike that address from their records, otherwise your next renewal card will be sent to that address as well…..which is problematic – trust me!
Have the renewal card sent to your Canadian address, and have your friend (or “designated representative”) forward it to you.
This works as long as the card isn’t mailed in such a way that it requires your signature on receipt. However you can get around that by giving your “designated representative” who receives your mail a Power of Attorney for Property, and this way they can act on your behalf. I’ve done this with my mum – er – “designated representative”, who can sign for special documents and do bank transactions for me, etc. Obviously you need to implicitly trust anybody you give Power of Attorney to (more on this in an upcoming financial travel tip).
Can you renew your credit card if you’ve been away for years?
I’ve navigated a handful of credit card renewals (since I carry a few credit cards) in my 6+ years of traveling and living outside of my home country.
Because I charge the majority of my expenses to a credit card, (for a variety of reasons including frequent flyer mile accumulation), the credit bureau has lovely records of me paying off my balance in full each month, so I’m a star in their eyes.
And though the credit card company doesn’t particularly like prompt full payments (they don’t get to charge interest that way!), I’m still a good customer.
The only reason a credit card might not be renewed – or worse yet, cancelled out from under you – is if you haven’t been using it at all. (I learned that one the hard way, losing the use of a spare credit card the one time I needed it).
Does anybody else have tips for renewing credit cards from abroad?