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Traveling with AmEx: full guide

If you’re planning a trip overseas, you might be wondering about how American Express® card usage abroad works. Specifically, it’s helpful to understand the American Express travel policy, and how to make sure your card will work when you’re away.

Read on for all you need to know about American Express travel notifications. Before you leave the US, why not also check out Wise as a good way to hold, send, spend, receive and exchange 40+ currencies.

Wise debit cards can be used in 150+ countries with low fees¹ and the mid-market exchange rate, making them the perfect partners for travel.


Do you have to notify American Express when you travel?

The good news is that you do not need to notify American Express of your plans to travel². While many banks and card issuers do ask you to tell them if you’re headed overseas, AmEx is confident that it can keep customers and their money safe without a specific notification requirement.

This works because the American Express fraud prevention processes can automatically detect when a card holder is traveling, picking up suspicious transactions without causing unnecessary hassle by blocking a card that’s being legitimately used.

There’s no specific AmEx travel notification rule – but there are a few things American Express advises card holders to do before going away – more on that when we look at the AmEx travel policy, in just a moment.

What is a travel notification?

It used to be the case that you always needed to notify your bank and card network before taking a trip. Failing to do so would mean your card use being limited or blocked when overseas transactions started to show up.

This process was in place to prevent fraud – but was also a hassle, particularly if you forgot to warn your bank of your travel plans in advance.

If you’re not with AmEx – or if you plan on using multiple cards while you’re away – make sure you’ve double checked the travel policy of each card issuer to avoid stress while you’re abroad.

AmEx travel policy

AmEx doesn’t need you to tell them you’re traveling – but under the advice in the AmEx travel policy you should take a couple of steps before you go away:

It’s also important to remember that, depending on the specific Amex card you hold, you may pay a foreign transaction fee when spending in a different currency. Check through your account terms and conditions before you travel, to make sure you’re aware of any extra fees when you’re abroad.

Check out our full guide of AmEx travel cards

Going abroad? Make sure to take a Wise card with you

Traveling with AmEx: full guide

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Does American Express automatically detect your travel activities?

American Express uses advanced account monitoring processes and software to keep an eye on customer accounts and prevent fraud.

This allows the security team to detect when a cardholder is abroad, and means you don’t need to specifically tell them of your plans in advance.

How to notify American Express of your travel plans

You don’t need to tell AmEx your travel plans before you go – but you do need to make sure your personal details are all set up correctly so that the security team can get in touch if there’s any problem with your account.

Using the American Express website or app

You can update your AmEx contact details by logging into your account online or in the AmEx app, and following the prompts to check and confirm all your personal details.

Contacting American Express customer service

If you have problems with your card, or if you have any questions while away, you can contact American Express customer service by opening a chat in the app, or by phone.

There are different contact numbers for different card issues and account types, so you’ll need to take a look at the AmEx contact page³ online to find the best one to suit your specific question.

What happens if you don’t notify American Express when you travel?

As we’ve seen, there should be no problem if you don’t tell AmEx about your travel plans. However, it’s important to keep your contact information up to date, so the AmEx security team could get in touch if there was any potential fraud on your account.

American Express has advanced automatic and manual fraud prevention tools which spot transaction patterns and can help to prevent fraud. From time to time this may mean they need to contact a customer to verify a payment was legitimate.

If the team tries to get in touch with you and can not, you may still find your account is limited or blocked until they can reach you. Double check your contact information before you leave, just in case.

Traveling with AmEx is easy – but you’ll want to check if any extra costs apply when you spend on your American Express card in a foreign currency.

Compare your AmEx against the low cost international debit card from Wise to see which works better for your trip. Wise cards let you spend in 150+ countries, in 40+ currencies, with the mid-market rate and low fees from 0.43%


  1. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  2. American Express US travel notification
  3. AmEx contact

Sources checked on 08.15.2023

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