US consumers are used to being required to only enter billing address, credit card number, expiration date and CSV (3-digit code on the back), and not giving much worry over fraud due to protections included in cards. Much of the world is quite different, such as chip and pin cards familiar to travelers to Europe. Visa and MasterCard both have additional security programs, and India is one country to mandate an additional layer of security for all online transactions (see the 2009 Reserve Bank of India notice and eBay’s plainly worded statement; in 2011 India added one-time passwords to phone transactions).
Visa’s program is called Verified by Visa, and the faq says it is ‘designed’ to work with any Visa card. ‘Designed’ is the operative word and in previous attempts to activate his cards, The Rapid Traveler was directed to his card issuers who could not produce people with any knowledge of the program. This situation may have improved.
MasterCard’s is SecureCode and they have a helpful list of participating financial institutions. There are 794 ‘C’ institutions that will please Chasewood, Capital View or Cinti card holders but not Chase, Capital One or Citi.
Air Asia, along with Indian airlines, requires this extra security, so what are customers to do? One option is to try booking engines like Expedia or Orbtiz, which can be good for tracking down many airlines. But many budget airlines, Air Asia included, only sell from their own websites.
The answer is surprisingly simple: use AmEx. AmEx’s security verification works by verifying billing address as this Indian blog explains:
What about American Express cards?For Amex cards the ‘extra level of authentication’ will work slightly differently. On the payment step at Cleartrip, you will be asked to enter you billing address, which will be passed on to the bank. This will be checked against your billing address the bank has on its records. If the addresses don’t match your payment will be rejected. This technology is called AVS – Address Verification System. Please check your credit card statement if you don’t remember your exact billing address.
Many AmEx cards unfortunately have foreign exchange fees, but paying those is a lot better than battling with Visa or MasterCard or not booking at all. The Rapid Traveler has used AmEx cards for Air Asia and several Indian airline (such as SpiceJet) bookings with no problem. Finally a case where AmEx is happily accepted and the others not!