You know, while I can see it'd be inconvenient, I think those soft limits are really good things.
My experience has been that my bank anyway (Wachovia/WF) has been really good at notifying me of questionable purchases using my card number and especially on fixing the very few small bad situations that have cropped up.
I would think the banks losses from having to fix these ID thefts is hefty and I can sure see them wanting to limit their exposure. I can also see $500 as a good general amount for them to start questioning.
I wouldn't think it'd take more than a minute or 2 to call them up ahead of time, ID yourself and tell them you were expecting to make such and such large purchase in the next 48 hours. It seems pretty easy, cheap and effective insurance to me. Insurance for both the banks AND you.
(There are times when I take motorcycle trips that cross several states. I can see those purchases ringing bells at my card carrier. I usually call ahead of time, give them the dates of the trip and states I'll be in and that always helps a lot in reducing/eliminating them holding up a purchase as being possibly questionable.)
Bruce in Ocala, FL