Travel Problems – What should I do if my card is stuck in an ATM, while traveling?

card is stuck in an ATM

Your Card is Stuck

You are on vacation and visit an ATM to withdraw money for your vacation or work trip. But then, the message no traveler wants to see appears on the machine: “Your card has been retained. Temporarily out of service.” Now your card is stuck in a non working ATM and you are vacation or traveling for work.

This happened to me in Bolivia – see my full story HERE. With no prior experience dealing with something like this. Add being in a new country, I found myself learning very quickly how to navigate this situation.

Hope my travel experience dealing with stuck cards in an ATM saves you time, stress and will prepare you for the worst of travel situations.

This step by step guide will teach you what to do should your card be stuck in an ATM machine.


  • How to report the problem
  • How to get your card replaced or back
  • Other ways to access funds while traveling

how to solve this

1. Breath!

Breath in, breath out. Yes, this situation is frustrating, and this will mean extra time sorting out the problem, which no one wants to do on vacation. Trust me, a solution will be found!

2. Take Pictures

Capture pictures of the machine including the telephone number to call and the message that may appear on the screen. These pictures will come in handy to show proof and/or make the report.

3. Take Notes

Write down notes of the location of the ATM, the time and date the incident happened, etc. Use these details to report this to the bank or ATM provider.

4. Call Your Debit Card

Contact your debit card customer service department and request they freeze your account and how to replace said card. Depending on the situation, a bank can expedite sending a card to your travel destination.

Sending a debit card to my home wouldn’t help me was solo traveling for 3 more months and I knew I would need access to cash. My bank recommended I visit the ATM bank provider to see if they could retrieve my debit card as this would be the easiest way to get access to a card based off my travel situation.

5. Call ATM Bank

Call the phone number found on the ATM machine or the bank who owns the ATM. Wondering what bank owns the ATM, most machines have their logo. Explain your situation and ask what steps you should take to retrieve your card.

My bank advised me to visit a branch in the city to report my issue. Every case will be different. My advice is to stay patient and be friendly with staff. This goes a long way in expediting situations like this.

6. Credit Card Withdrawal

Withdraw money from your credit card. Most credit cards provide a cash back option where you can withdraw cash. Ensure this is set up in advance and available to you. Be sure to pay this cash back immediately as most credit cards charge a fee for this service and the interest rate is higher for this cash.

Best of luck and remember to not let this ruin your trip!

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