Citibank Continues to Frustrate | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Citibank Continues to Frustrate

Rich

Intern
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
55
Do we need to set up guide on how to deal with Citibank when travelling overseas? I couldn't write it, as I haven't worked out what to do, but I thought I'd share my recent experiences.

I have a Citibank transaction account with a MasterCard debit card. As annoying as Citibank are, I still find the hassle is worth it to avoid 2.5% commissions from other banks on foreign purchases and ATM withdrawals, not to mention the initial 70000 bonus points I received when I started out with Citibank.

Having read here about Citibank blocking cards due to overseas transactions but not letting you advise them of your intended travel, I decided to follow their advice to give an overseas number so they could contact me before blocking the card. However I didn't have an overseas number until I arrived in USA.

At first I did not update my number as it wanted to send a OTP (One Time PIN) to my mobile in order to update details. Of course the mobile number was Australian and I couldn't receive the OTP. However pretty quickly my card was occasionally declined at merchants and Citibank ATMs, so I wanted to sort it. There was no toll free number to call, but I was at a branch and they put me through to "Australia" and they updated the number over the phone. Maybe activating the Citi Mobile Token option before I left would have helped, but due to previous problems with this feature I had not done this.

All good, but then when I attempted a large purchase, Citibank sent me an SMS asking me to reply back to confirm the purchase. The problem was the SMS was from a premium number, and I did not leave a line of credit for a short trip, so I couldn't sent it. I paid with another card. Then every few days I received an SMS or email asking me to contact them about a possible fraudulent attempt to use my card. Of course thy wanted me to call an Australian number.

I continued to have occasional issues using the card, but at least it was never blocked.

Upon returning to Australia I again couldn't update my mobile number because it wanted to send a OTP back to my US number, so I had to get through to an operator.

I appreciate all this security and it beats fraudulent transactions, but I don't think they have thought it through. Even with a US number, transactions were still getting knocked back so I am not sure updating the phone number did anything.

To top it off, I returned home to find they had sent me a letter with a pages of forms to fill out because they though I might be a US resident for tax purposes. The call centre operator told me it would be because I updated the phone number. Despite explaining I was simply on holiday, which she understood, she insisted I still need to fill out the forms with a covering letter explaining this. I could ignore it I suppose as I am not earning any interest on this account. Has anyone else received this letter?

I know I should close the account but I also know I won't, as I saved hundreds by having this card. What should I do differently next time?
 

theblank

Established Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
1,137
What should I do differently next time?
Don't leave home without your Australian phone number. Enable roaming, and you will be fine.

I use my Citi Plus card overseas a lot and i dont have any problems with it. I think you got yourself dug into a hole because of your sequence of events which wouldnt have happened if you had your own number.
 

Rich

Intern
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
55
I think you got yourself dug into a hole because of your sequence of events which wouldnt have happened if you had your own number.
Not really. My card was getting declined before I had changed the number and only once did I get contacted (by SMS) once I did change the number. That was on a larger transaction. So I doubt they tried to contact me when I still had my Australian number on my account. For goodness sake I would be declined on one Citibank ATM so I would just go to the one next to it and it would work.
 

odysseus

Established Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
1,007
Don't leave home without your Australian phone number. Enable roaming, and you will be fine.

I use my Citi Plus card overseas a lot and i dont have any problems with it. I think you got yourself dug into a hole because of your sequence of events which wouldnt have happened if you had your own number.
Actually, people have issues because, aside from the poor service, Citibank are the most inflexible and have Only One Way of doing things. If you don't prefer to do things that way but in any other way that is more suitable to you, then you will have issues.

Like Rich, I remain with them and deal with their inconvenient approach and service because the deal itself is competitive. However, they are easily the most painful bank to deal with, and the only one that is so inflexible.
 

Mattg

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Aug 21, 2011
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I recently had a problem with Citibank because I changed the mobile number linked to my account while overseas (to my new overseas phone number). I was then blocked from adding new payees to the account for 3 days and they flat out refused to help. The only reason I changed the phone number was because I didn't receive the One Time Pin on my Australian phone when I tried adding the new payee in the first place. Very frustrating.
 

Cryptarcadian

AFF Supporter
Joined
Dec 19, 2013
Messages
408
Ah Citibank… well I guess thanks for the heads-up about not changing your mobile number!

Don't leave home without your Australian phone number. Enable roaming, and you will be fine.
Sadly this isn't always possible, even if you're prepared to swap between your Australian and local SIM, as there are countries where some or all of the Australian carriers have no roaming agreements.

Maybe activating the Citi Mobile Token option before I left would have helped, but due to previous problems with this feature I had not done this.
Maybe, maybe not! Not sure if you've had the same experience, but I've found it keeps deactivating itself for reasons that are seemingly random. I've read reports that it's when you change SIM cards, but also when you manually change timezones — but I haven't been able to reproduce the reason consistently.

Anyone know of a reliable way to keep the mobile token generator working internationally, and avoid the SMS issues?
 
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Ausbt

AFF Supporter
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
1,217
30+ year Citibanker here. Your experiences are my experiences. They have done some good things over the years ($25K bridging finance really got me out of a jam once) but banking overseas has been a continual nightmare for me as well. On one NYC trip after having advised them of my dates, all it took was one withdrawal from an ATM at their own mid-town branch for them to freeze my account. "But that's your own branch?" I cried. One Time Pin access in order to transaction online? Forggedaboutit. Occasionally you get the thing working and then they will update the app mid-trip, necessitating a PIN to be texted to your non-existent number.

ING's Travel Money account has been rocking my world lately, with all fees rebated.
 

Rich

Intern
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
55
Maybe, maybe not! Not sure if you've had the same experience, but I've found it keeps deactivating itself for reasons that are seemingly random.
Exactly what happened to me in Australia with the mobile token so I stopped trying a long time ago and didn't think about it before my recent trip (and haven't travelled in between).
 

CaptJCool

Active Member
Joined
May 31, 2012
Messages
853
Thanks for the heads up on this.

I got a 2001 account with this mob and the OTP and forever app updates are a PAIN IN THE A...

Don’t recall I got free commission on international transactions. Which was in 2016 in Belgium, France and London. Is this part of a specific card package ?

PS Perhaps I ought move cards (And I don’t like Qantas Cash cause of the lousy earn rate but also the rare expensive exchange rates......
 

Rich

Intern
Joined
Oct 29, 2008
Messages
55
Don’t recall I got free commission on international transactions. Which was in 2016 in Belgium, France and London. Is this part of a specific card package ?
The Citibank Plus transaction account with Mastercard debit card (i.e. not a credit card) does not charge commissions on purchases or ATM withdrawals and the exchange rate is competitive. There are also no fees for using Citibank branded ATMs overseas.
 

theblank

Established Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
1,137
Sadly this isn't always possible, even if you're prepared to swap between your Australian and local SIM, as there are countries where some or all of the Australian carriers have no roaming agreements.
If there are such countries like that, ( i dont know which ones they are, just saying) then those are the same countries where atms and credit cards are not likely to be easily used either. And travellers to these countries would know that already.

if you dont have your AU number with you travelling overseas its going to bite you, from getting locked out of emails, net banking and any other online services you might have to access whether routinely or in an emergency.

Roaming can be somewhat expensive, but it doesnt mean you have to turn it on, make calls, or watch youtube and its always free to receive TXT
 

theblank

Established Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
1,137
Not really. My card was getting declined before I had changed the number and only once did I get contacted (by SMS) once I did change the number.
Ok, i agree that kind of sucks, I dont know how citibank work it, but I have used mine countless times overseas and never had issues like that.

I have even got one card that permantly lives overseas, in a third world country for about 5 years now, and the 3rd person that uses it has never had an issue either.
 

tlam

Intern
Joined
Apr 19, 2016
Messages
79
ING is now the best for travelling overseas instead of Citi Plus.

I always travel with my BankWest World MasterCard for the purchases and ING for cash withdrawal. Earning points and fee free at ATMs
 

theblank

Established Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
1,137
ING is now the best for travelling overseas instead of Citi Plus.
Sure thing, but if ING detects transactions that their fraud dept is concerned about they are going to try to call or TXT the Cardholder, if they get no response they will block the card, and the same goes for every provider.

Citibank do make it clear that for overseas travel that " it is important that you ensure we have your correct mobile number that you will be using whilst overseas."
Travelling Overseas - Citibank Australia
 

Ausbt

AFF Supporter
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
1,217
Sure thing, but if ING detects transactions that their fraud dept is concerned about they are going to try to call or TXT the Cardholder
My wife and I had two ING cards on the same account. I self-reported a suspected fraud, had great telephone service from ING, they blocked my card but my wife's card was left operational thankfully. Subsequently discovered it wasn't a fraud at all, just paranoia. But, take your point that if it's the bank detecting the fraud they will block and if you have no local number you may be unaware. Wonder if they block one or both cards on a multi-card account? Hopefully just the one.

The other thing I learnt on my last trip was never to tap-and-go/pay-pass. It's much better to just withdraw the same amount from ATMs on a regular basis and pay cash - that is, much better from a paranoid-about-skimming or dodgy-merchants point of view. When reviewing transaction histories with much tapping, you really don't know what you are looking at. Pretty easy to reconcile the number of times you've been to an ATM though.
 

tlam

Intern
Joined
Apr 19, 2016
Messages
79
Sure thing, but if ING detects transactions that their fraud dept is concerned about they are going to try to call or TXT the Cardholder, if they get no response they will block the card, and the same goes for every provider.

Citibank do make it clear that for overseas travel that " it is important that you ensure we have your correct mobile number that you will be using whilst overseas."
Travelling Overseas - Citibank Australia
I notify them in advance using the ING app, “Use Card Overseas” feature, and they never block any transactions.
 

theblank

Established Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
1,137
I notify them in advance using the ING app, “Use Card Overseas” feature, and they never block any transactions.
Thats actually irrelevant. Do you realise that just because you advised them you are travelling overseas doesn't make you immune to having your card compromised or doing transactions that may appear suspicious. If they detect suspicious transactions they will try to call/txt you. If you are not not contactable your card will be blocked.
 

Legoman

Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2015
Messages
198
Yes Citibank are annoying, but to be fair to them, your biggest mistake here was having the wrong mobile phone supplier. If you had simply left Australia with a Telstra reseller mobile phone simcard (such as Aldi mobile pre-paid, $15 lasts an entire year), then you would have received whatever SMS were required without having to remortgage the house and put the funds in credit with the telco just to receive an SMS internationally.

The other thing you did wrong was not requesting a Digipass hard token RSA generator thing for their stupid OTP bizzo before you left. Do not rely on their mobile OTP token thing. That thing breaks everytime you swap sims, they update the Citibank app (which is incredibly frequently) and basically everytime you restart your phone or make a phone call. It is unreliable to the point of dangerously useless. Get the Digipass hard token instead and leave the mobile OTP thing disabled.

Citibank do not advertise the availability of a Digipass token, so you'll have to ask for it directly by name and probably justify why you want one too. They try and steer everyone to their mobile OTP thing instead because it's obviously cheaper for them, but don't be swayed. Get the Digipass device.
 

Legoman

Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2015
Messages
198
ING is now the best for travelling overseas instead of Citi Plus.
I have a mortgage with ING and as such am exempt from all the 5 x paywave transactions/month nonsense they now require for fee-free international card use and even I don't think the ING card is better than the Citibank Plus for debit transactions (if required) overseas.

The Citibank card actually got better when they moved allegiances from Visa to MasterCard. It's a fact that MasterCard is more widely accepted worldwide than Visa, but that's a very minor thing since both schemes are so widely accepted, that you'd really have to be off the beaten track to find someone who accepted one but not the other. Of greater benefit is the fact that some hotels + budget airlines who as a matter of course surcharge for every card use they can, are compelled to offer at least one method of card use by government legislation to enable people to make online transactions. For whatever reason (I don't know), the choice they always come up with for surcharge free is a MasterCard debit.

I went SQ to Singapore and stayed at the Pan Pacific. Both bookings were going to be surcharged for card use except if using a MasterCard debit. My Orange Everyday card wasn't any use here. I had to use my freshly minted, renewed Citibank Plus MasterCard instead.

Oh and of course you definitely will come across genuine Ciitbank owned ATM's all over the world to withdraw cash from for free with not even an operator/owner fee. Unless you're travelling to Netherlands, it's highly unlikely you will come across an ING owned one.
 
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