Visa’s Emergency Card Replacement a Boon for Travelers and Issuers

Recognizing the popularity of both travel rewards cards and digital wallets, Visa introduced its Digital Emergency Card Replacement, a new service that delivers a digital card replacement to travelers who have lost their physical credit or debit card.

Digital wallets have become an essential part of the travel experience for many, with 74% of U.S. travelers now using them on their trips,according to 2023 data from Visa. Separate data from WalletHub noted that half of Americans plan to use credit card rewards points to pay for a vacation this year. The new Visa offering leverages these two trends to align with how people travel today.

The service highlights the increasingly blurry distinction between physical cards and their digital counterparts. The traditional method of replacing a card—sending it via U.S. mail—doesn’t work when the cardholder is traveling. Through the Visa service, travelers who lose a card can receive a digital replacement via text or email within minutes. The cardholder then authenticates and adds the new card into their digital wallet, gaining the ability to use the card right away.

A Boon to Issuers

While Visa is touting this as a tremendous convenience for travelers, there are important benefits for card issuers as well. This service ensures that cardholders maintain their purchasing power even when their physical card is lost.

“This is a great service that leverages the power of digital wallets to create peace of mind for travelers,” said Ben Danner, Senior Analyst, Credit and Commercial at Javelin Strategy & Research. “For the consumer, losing a card on vacation could be a disaster, and having the ability to have it back in digital version is a great value-add. For the issuers, this is a way to capture spend that otherwise would be lost to other payment methods during the gap of time between replacement.”

These travel expenses are especially valuable to card issuers, especially as Americans continue to spend more on travel in the post-COVID environment. According to a Bankrate survey, 42% of respondents earning at least $100,000 plan to spend more on travel this year. Additionally, 27% of respondents indicated they would be willing take on debt to fund their travel plans.