Notifying one’s bank of upcoming vacation used to be as essential as a passport or a plane ticket. Without a travel notice, banks often flagged purchases abroad as fraudulent, resulting in declined charges or even a locked account, leaving travelers without access to money. Fast-forward to today: Financial institutions are not so insistent customers set travel notices before takeoff. Though this may simplify a traveler’s pre-travel checklist, it does raise the question of how firms have changed this step. How do banks protect users from fraud across the globe without explicit travel notices? As part of our ongoing research into UX trends in the Bank industry, we examined how travel notices are evolving in consumer banking and what it means for customers.

How do firms protect against fraud while you travel?

Banks are always playing a cat-and-mouse game to protect against fraud. They are currently winning: New technology, like the introduction of chip-and-pin cards in the U.S. and advanced AI fraud detection, has reduced the rate of fraudulent charges despite a huge increase in credit card usage. Firms also take advantage of existing technology: In 2016, one potential fraud-busting method firms started to employ was comparing a customer’s phone against their card’s location. However, a lot can change in six years. Banks now have more ways to detect fraud, but whether this is done via location sharing, transaction history or some other means is not always clear to users. For example, firms like Bank of America and KeyBank inform customers that travel notices are no longer required due to enhanced security measures, but do not go into much detail about these enhanced security measures.

This screenshot shows Bank of America's Help Center section on Travel notifications
Bank of America Help Center Travel Notification Result


This screenshot shows KeyBank's Travel Note FAQ section
KeyBank Travel Note FAQ Page

These firms are not alone. Several other banks such as American Express, Truist and Chase no longer require users to post travel notices before departing for their domestic or international journey. The industry has moved away from travel notices. But firms don’t all necessarily explain why.

In a Mobile Monitor update from earlier this year we reported that, while USAA has a traditional travel notice system, it sometimes uses smartphone technology in an intriguing way to implement it. When accessing USAA on iOS or Android, the app automatically prompts users to add a travel notice when it detects logins from outside a user’s home state. A home screen tile includes a map with the user’s current location and a pin representing their home. However, users must opt into location sharing in their device settings to enable the feature. This addition both illuminates how firms can protect against fraud away from home and shows how current technology is helping travel notices evolve.

This screenshot shows the new travel notice prompt in USAA's mobile app
New iOS Home Screen Travel Notice Prompt Tile

Location sharing is not the only way banks are changing travel notice traditions. Chase will sometimes send emails to customers informing them the firm noticed they bought plane tickets with their card and there is no need to post a travel notice. In a related but more everyday example, here is a recent text a CI researcher received from his personal bank, Bank of America, while making a purchase near home.

This screenshot shows Bank of America's
iOS Bank of America Fraud Detection Text Message

This is an example of why Banks now frequently remind users to keep their contact information up-to-date and accurate. With the ability to text users at the first inkling of fraudulent activity on your account, firms now often use this instant connection with customers in place of travel notices. This way, both parties quickly discover if transactions on the account are legitimate.

How do travel notices evolve from here?

While several firms are finding ways to replace the outdated travel notice format, others are innovating in particularly unique ways. Truist informs customers that, while the firm does not require a travel notice, it does provide other supplementary travel protections. Customers have the option of toggling international transactions on or off as well as setting up to three geographic region limits. With these options, customers can protect their account from potential fraud in areas they know they will not be traveling to before the transactions can even take place.

This Truist screenshot shows the My Location tile that helps travelers
Truist Authenticated Site Card Controls Page – My Locations Tile

These are just a few of several ways that bank travel notices are evolving in terms of UX. With technology developing at a rapid pace, it only makes sense for the ways firms protect our personal finances to evolve along with it. If you would like to stay informed of the new approaches banks take to change how we travel, be sure to check out CI’s thorough Bank Monitor service.

Connor Duffey

Connor Duffey is an Analyst on CI's bank and cards team.