On a recent business trip, I had one setback that I have never had before.
It is quite embarrassing, but after logging about 1.4M miles on just one airline, on a domestic trip, I lost my wallet. The last time I remember having it in my hands, was in seat 3C, and definitely when I ordered a Latte at the airport at 4:00 in the morning.
There are a few things that I learned. Some just about our current times, and then some tips so that I could be better prepare in the future if anything like this happens again.
The first one is that financial institutions, even when Fintech is out there after their lunch, have embraced Digital Transformation at least for the features they care about. I had three credit cards, and two debit cards in my wallet. What could have taken me easily an hour a few years back (thinking 10 minute on the phone per card?), I was able to take care of in less than three minutes. Every app (at least the ones I have!) from every bank or credit card, now includes a “block card” feature. Just log into the app, go to the right section, and flip the switch. This feature is great, especially if you are not yet solid on whether if the cards are gone, or just temporarily misplaced.
Luckily, I had, besides these five cards, one more debit card configured in my phone’s wallet. With that, I was able to utilize Uber and get a ride to the Hotel where I was going. At the hotel, I was met with yet one challenge, being the lack of tap sensors on their POS devices, but because I was on a group reservation, they were willing to check me in.
At this point I had already gone through my acceptance phase, and I was able to ask for replacement cards through the apps for all cards, except for one. Like 15 minutes between the 4 app interactions and the remaining phone call, but none of the servicers would commit to delivering a card in less than three days.
I was able to get by for almost three days, using Apple Pay. Actually, some of the cards were automatically updated in the wallet. In addition, I was able to generate a “virtual card number” and use this on Uber, and to fill out a Credit Card Authorization Form for the hotel.
The real challenge was to get through security at the airport on my way back. It happens to be that is possible to travel without an ID. It is just dang slow. First you have to wait, then they ask you questions just like the credit agencies, and then search you for any monkey business.
So how to avoid/mitigate this? Here are my recommendations:
- Take with you any secondary ID, like work badge, an expired Driver’s License, etc. anything with a photo on it.
- Get about $100 cash
- Stash the alternate ID and the cash somewhere in your suitcase, NOT IN YOUR WALLET.
- Do the same with any cards you will not be using during the trip (like the card you use to buy groceries).
- Setup all your cards on your phone’s electronic wallet.
- Configure all applications that you would need for travel (Uber, Lime, Uber Eats, the Airline app, etc.) and set them up with a virtual card that cannot be lost.
- Take pictures of your ID
- If you really want to go fancy, travel frequently, and have money to spare, get “Clear”, they are able to provide positive ID with just facial recognition (and no, ironically, Global Entry, TSA Pre do not help in this scenario).
I asked the TSA agent who helped me through the process, and she told me that about 15 people a day show up with no id during her shift only. So it is more common than we all think.
My main conclusion out of this embarrassing event, is that is much easier to solve for the missing credit cards, and that government IDs are only necessary when dealing with the government.