I’ve just returned from a holiday in Indonesia (Bali specifically), and I had problems using my Starling card for what I would consider medium sized transactions. I wanted to share my experience in case anyone else is travelling in the same region, and to also ask some questions. I’d like to say that I really enjoyed using my Starling card abroad, except for this very sour point.
One of the hotels we stayed in was payment on arrival, however all transaction attempts were declining. On contacting Starling I was told that this needed to be looked into and they would come back to me. Thankfully the hotel were happy for me to try again in the morning as we’d arrived late at night.
The following morning I received a message to say that there should not be any problem with my card and to try the transaction again. Unfortunately this declined again. I again contacted Starling and was told that the issue was with the size of the transaction and to try splitting it into two separate smaller payments. There was apparently no way that this limit could be removed to allow the transaction to go through so this was the only option. 2 smaller payments also declined. In the end I asked the hotel to try one more time and split the transaction into 4 smaller separate payments. Thankfully this worked.
So - it seems there is a hard limit that is set, in my opinion, incredibly low for Indonesia / Bali? From my experience a payment of up to around £400 GBP worked fine, but £800+ GBP definitely did not. Not a lot when paying for a hotel or something similar, agree? I asked to know what the limit was so I had some idea if a transaction might decline, and I was told I couldn’t know the limit “due to security reasons”. Why, exactly? I spent the rest of the holiday just crossing my fingers that payments in this range would go through. It’s evident you can figure it out roughly just by reducing the payment, so what’s the issue in knowing it? Why is there no way to remove this limit in any way, temporary or otherwise. My presumption is that perhaps these limits are set by country?
This raises another question - what is the point of a limit if you can just make many much smaller payments to the same amount? Whilst in my particular case I was incredibly happy that I could, it seems a little pointless if it can be circumvented in this way. I had concerns that 4 payments in quick succession of the same amount might get declined as suspicious, but thankfully not, at least in my particular scenario.
Some more information on this and any news on improvements moving forward in this area would be appreciated.