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Author Topic: Credit/Debit cards and Amtrak
yukon11
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From an earlier post, I think the consensus is that a debit card is not something one would want to use on Amtrak. A credit card seems to be better, but just how safe is it?

https://is.gd/lmTkSA

Also, how safe is it to call Amtrak, for reservations, and give out your credit card number? How about booking on line without a live person? From the link, above, I guess it's pretty safe, especially if you submit the 3 digit CW number on the back of the credit card.

If smart phones are safer than plastic, I wonder if we will see, some day, an Amtrak app that can do everything. Make new reservations, changes and upgrades in a station or on board. Pay for all food services and anything you purchase while on the train.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard, I simply will not have a debit card. If it is compromised, your bank account could be completely wiped out.

While most any financial institution will stand with you and replace the stolen funds, the problem is "getting from here to there", i.e. what do you do between theft and restoration?

How safe is it to give out your info over the phone, if someone has called you, DON'T. If you have called someone, such as Amtrak, and you are satisfied you have reached the intended party, then give 'em what they ask.

Those are my "marching orders".

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yukon11
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Yes, the time it takes to replace stolen funds is a real bugaboo.

You travel much more than I do, Mr. Norman. The only foreign country I've been in is Canada. Years ago, while using my credit card in Canada, I would get a phone call on returning, from Wells Fargo (who issued my credit card) asking if it was "really me" making credit card purchases in Canada. I now call WF, before leaving, to let them know arrival and departure times for Canada, so such phone calls from Wells Fargo would not be necessary. Is that still a good practice when abroad, or is it no longer necessary?

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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It seems as if the major card issuers no longer specifically require notification.

While I've never had issues overseas (they know you're going; you've bought an airplane ticket), but annoying and embarassing are the issues I've had "gassing up" - notably in the Southeast. It seems as if I get declined at the pump, which means I need deal with a clerk for whom English is a "second language" and has a "room temperature IQ".

But at least this one particular BP in Acworth GA does not discriminate, for I observed another out of State with an American Express Platinum get same treatment.

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palmland
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I encountered rude and unfriendly retail personnel on our recent trip to the northeast. We were very glad when we crossed into VA. But that’s a generalization as I’m sure there are many friendly and helpful people in the northeast too.
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sojourner
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I have found it best to inform credit card company prior to any travel out of one's area, whether in the US, in Canada, or elsewhere.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Ms. Sojourner, your immediate suggested to me that I check current policies regarding travel on the three cards I use.

Bank of America Master Charge has a page at their site where a cardholder can (does not appear to be required) set forth the "wheres and whens" of an upcoming trip.

Capital One Visa has no such requirement to notify them - domestic or overseas.

American Express has no such requirement; they say they know where you are - and in this day and age, they probably do!

So possibly your card is BofA issued. For me, the upcoming auto and Auto Train trip to Florida means I'll again have to deal with gas station clerks with their English as a Second Language and their "room temperature IQ's".

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yukon11
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Speaking of air travel abroad, or within the US, I just realized that we are going to need "Real ID", after October.

https://is.gd/C0OhrM

I read that some states will automatically issue an "enhanced" driver license with a gold star, signifying the license can be used as "Real ID". If not, does everyone have to mosey on down to the DMV for a "Real ID" drivers license?

Also, is Real ID necessary for Amtrak trips? If not now, perhaps later?

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard ("Western Star" elsewhere?), I have no plans to get a Real ID until I'm next up for a Driver's License, which is during July '21.

I'll just use my Passport for any flights taken between this October and July '21. If I didn't have a valid passport, then I guess I'd have to get the Real ID on the pronto - unless I plan to join the "never fly club", of which we have a Member or two of such around here.

There appears to be no requirement for one to use Amtrak - there surely would be notice somewhere if that were the case.

Regarding automatic issue of a Real ID, I don't think so. Here are Illinois' requirements to obtain such. Apparently, these requirements have been promulgated by the DHS, so it's likely same applies within other states.

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George Harris
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"Real ID": Why I just renewed our passports, despite thinking it will be unlikely that I will ever leave the country again, and my wife unlikely to even be on a plane again. General thought: It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Anyone here remember when driver's licences did not have pictures, and most were even paper? By the way, neither of my parents had birth certificates. My mother got one in the 1980's. Not sure if my father even had one. How do you think so many guys got in service in WW2 at 16 and some even 15 by lying about their age? There was no formal process of government establishment of birth for their age and older people

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yukon11
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I'm old enough, George, to remember driver's licenses which didn't require a photo.

Speaking of credit, in our little town, you didn't need a credit card. If the shopkeeper was acquainted with you and/or if you lived in town, he or she would write out a little charge slip and give you a copy. At the end of the month, the charge slips would be tablulated and you would get a bill mailed to your home.

I'm old enough to remember a milk man delivering milk to the front porch, in recyclable glass bottles. Also, 4 cent postage stamps and Buster Brown shoes. Also the ability to set up a lemonade stand, in front of your house, without the need of a town permit or environmental impact study.

Richard

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Ocala Mike
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I go back to 3c postage stamps, and the Mom/Pop grocery store guy using a pencil nub to tally the bill on a brown paper bag, then "putting it down" (the total) in a school notebook so my dad could settle on payday.
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Gilbert B Norman
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From Marriott Biscayne Bay Miami--

Well, things are "looking up" in my credit card world.

Can't believe it; at the four fuel stops driving down (Marion Il, Acworth GA, Tiffin GA, and Pompano Beach FL), my Capital One Visa was declined only once at Marion - and there I dealt with a very nice English speaking lady who "took care of it".

Addendum: made fuel stops on the return at Mims FL, Broadview Heights OH, and home - all "pay at the pump" without incident.

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Gilbert B Norman
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I learned from a Desk Clerk that, at least at the Holiday Inn in Akron in which I stayed Monday night, you can't stay there without holding a credit card.

Maybe it is just a local policy, but one wonders to how many other IHG brands or properties that must apply.

I asked her "What if a guy walked in, asked if you had a room open and how much?". You responded affirmatively, then he breaks out a wad and lays it down. She said he could not stay as he had no credit card.

You definitely cannot rent an auto without a credit card anywhere, and I'm pretty sure you cannot purchase an airline ticket or make in-flight purchases without one.

So, Amtrak would be quite "in line" if they inaugurated such a policy - at least for on-board purchases.

Addendum: reviewing the IHG/Holiday Inn site today, it's not some officious clerk making stuff up. It's clearly stated that you can pay your charges with cash if you choose, but you still must have a credit card to stay.

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Gilbert B Norman
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I must wonder to what extent the COVID-19 crisis will "put an end to" currency transactions.

Apparently, this Wall Street Journal columnist had held the size of his "wad" equated to his "manhood". While such thinking is simply foreign to me, I must note others hold differently. For example, I had a client who held that if you have "a couple of twenties" on you to let a "mugger" have, he will take them and be gone.

Another more recent occasion was at Lunch in Boca with a member at another site in which he was quick to say "I got it". He takes one peek at the check, reaches in to a horrifyingly large wad, throws some on the table, and says. "we're gone".

He's probably a better tipper than I - but nobody calls me "cheap".

I'm simply not that casual about financial transactions. How could he begin to account for such?

But back on Amtrak, at such time "it's safe to go back in the water", will the current crisis prompt Amtrak to join the airlines by saying no more currency?

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MontanaJim
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I think the reason hotels/motels require credit cards is so the hotel/motel has a way to charge the guest if the guest causes any damage or has a bill of any kind and doesnt pay before he/she leaves.

As for Amtrak discontinuing use of cash, I am fine with it as I use a credit card in my daily life as a matter of convenience and have done so for a long time. Easier than fumbling around for cash and/or coins. Also can dispute a charge as necessary, get cash back/airline miles etc etc. One thing I dont like though is this pressure to tip--many places including some fast food restaurants, cafes etc have the gratuity line on the receipt for the customer to sign, implying one should tip whether they want to or not.

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Gilbert B Norman
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At a full service restaurant, the gratuity line should be there. Otherwise how else could the tip be added to arrive at the total of the check?

That would mean cash would need be used; and, Jim, I don't you would want that.

Further, I'd like to see the major chain hotels implement the means to tip the Housekeeper with a line item on the bill.

At these restaurants that have at the table check settlements, the "suggested tip" added to the total is welcome to me. It eliminates arithmetic errors made by patrons that "have had a few" and important within the, and even post, Coronavirus era, less chance of others touching your card, and for that matter reducing the potential of "no good".

Finally, back on hotels, the major chains at which I have stayed, had all implemented "contactless" credit card swiping "-pre-Corona". However, a reception clerk still handled your ID. At such time I again stay at hotels (hope to, but my advancing age may have other ideas), it will be interesting to see how the "contactless check in" works.

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