Credit Cards

“I” Bought Someone $7,000 In Airline Tickets For Christmas – Apparently

Christmas is certainly a time for giving and I always enjoy doing that. However, I always prefer that am the one that decides to actually do the giving! Instead, “I” apparently bought someone $7,000 in airline tickets for Christmas this year!

Apparently, “I” Bought $7,000 In Airline Tickets As A Gift…

Backing up, here is what happened. I got an e-mail from Chase fraud alert system yesterday informing me that there was a suspicious purchase (on my Sapphire Preferred) and they wanted me to verify that I made it or did not make it. It was for the amount of $35 to a charity. Well, of course I start wondering if there was some donation I made at some point that I forgot to uncheck for recurring donations or something like that. Chase includes in the e-mail big YES or NO buttons that allow you to just quickly clear the potential fraud risk out of the way.


Since I wasn’t sure what it was and did not want to leave some charity hanging because I forgot about some donation, I gave Chase a call. Quick tip – often, the organizations that may process payments for all sorts of things may have a different name entirely from what you remember it being. So, always check the purchase amount against your transactions instead of just getting nervous at not recognizing the name. Anyway, I spoke with a nice lady at Chase that helped me out with that. She gave me some more info about the “donation” I had made and that it had been keyed in the other day – so not a recurring item. I told her it was not mine and, as is standard procedure for fraud issues, she began to go back through my most recent purchases.

The Airline Tickets

As she was going through throwing out payees and amounts, she mentioned a couple of airlines. I had recently booked some tickets and paid some taxes on award tickets so nothing jumped right out until she said “Emirates – $3,4xx.xx.” The funny thing is that I had just been checking out some tickets with Emirates so it stopped me for a moment to think if I had actually bought them and the amount settled into my brain. I asked, “Did you say $3,000 with Emirates?” She confirmed and I told her no, that was not me! She ticked that one off.

Next one up was for $3,7xx.xx with Qatar Airways. Again, I had been looking at some flights with Qatar but never booked anything – and certainly not for $3,000+! So, I told her that was not me also. She then asked about a small charge at the same time from ebookers. Again, that struck me as funny because the only time I ever used ebookers (an online travel agency) was a year ago today – to book my $20 Delta tickets! Apparently, this individual had a preference for them as well!

When it was all said and done, it was just the 4 purchases – the charity, the tickets from Emirates and Qatar, and the ebookers fee. All told, it was quite a bit over $7,000. The funny thing was that the tickets did not set off any fraud alert warnings – it was a $35 donation to a charity! Since that card is my go-to card for airline purchases, maybe the system didn’t find it abnormal, even though the costs were waaay higher than I ever book my tickets for.


To be honest, I was kind of surprised that someone had stolen my credit card numbers to use on airline tickets. Airline tickets show all of the ticket information on the credit card, so it would make it very easy to track the person down. The only thing I could think of was that someone bought refundable tickets in a fictious name and was going to try to get the charge credited to some other form of payment later – I’m not sure since I really have not thought too much about how one would commit credit card theft. 🙂

I was honestly just kind of amused by the whole thing. Chase, of course, takes these charges off my card and runs their investigation into these thefts so I am not responsible for any of it.The irony just hit me – it took someone stealing my credit card information to get a charge that big on it for single airline tickets. That is in spite of the fact that I have flown many times in airline seats (even on those airlines) that cost many more times the amounts charged on my card – but I was able to do it all with miles! Ahh, one more reason to be thankful for miles and points!

Finally, in case this ever happens to you in a foreign country. That card is our main card because it has the chip in it (though it is chip and signature, not chip and pin). Our other cards often get declined – even though the issuers never even see the attempt – because the credit card hardware here does not work so well if the card does not have a chip. Currently, that is our only Chase card with a chip in it with us (other cards are back in the USthough we do have a couple of other cards with us as well). Since that is our card that we never have an issue with, it was going to be a problem to have the account closed and lose access to that card.

The good news is that you can request for Chase to keep the card active for swipe transactions – it will still work for that, but not for keyed in transactions (like any transaction on the internet). They can keep that active for up to 21 days if you ask them. So, if you are in a foreign country and do not have access to other cards – don’t worry. Just ask Chase to keep the card available for in-person transactions and it will remain active until you are able to get home and activate the new card.

Now I am going to have to memorize a new card all over again…

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Funny thing is the airlines know there is fraud and they won’t do anything about it. If your lucky they will mark the tickets bought as fraud but 9 out of 10 times they will not do anything. Most of the tickets bought with stolen credit card info is for close in travel so by time the credit card company advises the airline of the stolen credit card the theif has already flown on the ticket – or they have exchanged the ticket once or more times into new tickets and it’s hard to follow the exchanges.

    • Good points. I’m just glad that I do not even have to worry about any of it! Thank you, Chase! Now, what would be really awesome is if I got the 14,000 Ultimate Reward points for those tickets… 🙂

  • One thing to add about the CSP is that they will normally overnight you a new card anywhere in the world. So if you are traveling, you can use the above process to keep you card active for swiped transactions and get a new CSP sent to the next hotel on your trip.

    • Good point. They did offer to send mine to me but the mail here can be remarkeably unreliable and I have had some things disappear. I will be able to get the new card from family in a couple of weeks. But, it is nice to have that as an option from Chase! Definitely better off having it sent to a hotel or something.

  • Not sure confining the charges abroad to “swipe only” offers enough protection. I used my credit card only one place (ticket office at the Louvre and was ONLY in Paris) and then soon thereafter had 17K in charges being made in Italy – which Citibank said were all “swiped” charges – and I had my credit card in my possession………..

  • Organized criminals can make fake cards easily. It’s getting the valid numbers, CID and exp. date that is the hard part.

    So I guess Chase won’t be giving you the 2x miles for those airline purchases either 🙂

  • Good to hear you got it nipped in the bud early. I have been down that road with my CSP. Thankfully Chase is true to their word on fraud.