Somewhat dumb credit card region lock

Visa has a neat feature where you can determine in which regions the card can be used. In my case, it’s “internet”, “Sweden”, “Nordic countries”, “Europe”, “North and central America”, “South America”, “Africa”, “Asia”, “Oceania”. You can set these through the credit card app (mine is from Volvo, of course).

So I disabled all regions except “Internet” and “Sweden”, planning on enabling other regions when I travel. 

Today I got a message from Netflix that they couldn’t charge my card. No explanation why. I called the card issuer and after some digging they explained to me that since I disabled “Europe”, Netflix got refused. Turns out that Netflix charges from region “Europe”, not “Internet”. More specifically from The Netherlands. Once I reenabled “Europe”, the charge went through.

Now, there are several problems with this. First of all, an internet based service like Netflix should be in the region “Internet”. Secondly, if it isn’t in “Internet”, they should at the very least tell us from which region they charge. I had no idea Netflix charges from The Netherlands. How could I? It’s not reasonable to expect us to check with the card issuer every time this happens, and have them go dig through logs (took them 10 minutes to find, so it wasn’t trivial).

Worst of all, this kind of thing implies that you’d better open up a lot of regions you’re not travelling to, since you don’t know from which regions different internet based companies do their charging.

Having the card processor issue meaningful error messages, not just “sorry we failed”, would definitely help a lot, too.

1 thought on “Somewhat dumb credit card region lock”

  1. We help a lot of people with credit card processing software; its worse than that in that most gateways don’t have a way to designate a transaction as being “internet” based – you might be able to set that at the M_ID level, but these days its pretty common for people to use the same channels for online and offline sales until they’re really big.

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