Amex in Europe

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momo54
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Amex in Europe

Post by momo54 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:26 am

My wife and I will be vacationing in Europe next month and a friend of mine who travels more extensively then us suggested we leave our American Express card at home and bring my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and Cap One card .He told me Amex is very "limited" in Europe ! Is this true ? As you probably guess we have never visited Europe.

jebmke
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by jebmke » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:30 am

Maybe it has changed but when I lived there in the early 2000s I used AMEX a lot. I would be sure to take multiple cards. We always carry at least one card each that isn't carried by the other so if a wallet goes missing we can cancel all the cards in the wallet and still keep on.

It may vary by location. In some small towns, the hotels will only take cash.
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02nz
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by 02nz » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:33 am

Amex acceptance is better than it used to be but still not quite at the level of Visa/MC. Most hotels in Europe do take Amex but smaller non-chain hotels don’t all take Amex. I like Amex but never travel in the US or internationally with Amex as my only card. Also you need to be prepared that credit card acceptance in general is lower in Europe than in the US, so be prepared to go the ATM for cash.

E5797
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by E5797 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:35 am

I would agree it is limited. Most often it's MC/VISA. Some places will take AmEx but I would want to have another card as a back up.

straws46
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by straws46 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:37 am

Amex is accepted in most high dollar places, but Visa is much more broadly accepted. Take both if we want. If you have an ATM card that reimburses fees as Schwab does, take it to get cash. We never get much cash since many countries (England, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic countries) aren't on the Euro and it's wasteful to come back with lots of Zloties, Forints and Kroners and pounds.

02nz
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by 02nz » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:38 am

Also, watch out for something called "dynamic currency conversion," where merchants (and increasingly ATMs) will offer to run the charge in U.S. dollars instead of in euros or whatever the local currency is. This is always a ripoff, and you get an exchange rate 5 to 7% worse than running the charge in local currency. Always decline, and if the merchant says they can't change, refuse to sign.

I believe this only happens with Visa/MC and not Amex, but something to watch out for.

jminv
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by jminv » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:40 am

Yes, this is true. American Express acceptance is more limited that Visa or MasterCard. The country and area you are in will also play a role. You can use American Express more in tourist areas although it can still be hit or miss. There are also establishments in certain countries particularly away from popular tourist areas, mainly restaurants but also stores with low dollar transactions, where cards are not accepted, only cash. This is due to the card fees eating into slim margins and/or a culture that prefers cash rather than a paper trail for certain reasons (tax).

I live in Europe and only use Visa plus my local bank card since certain things don’t run on Visa network in my area (parking street machines, some trains). I used to have an American Express but I prefer paying in something that’s regularly accepted.

When paying with the card machine, Always pay in euros or whatever currency you are in at the time. Never choose to pay in dollars! The machine gives you a chance to do either and theres a big profit from the spread if you choose to pay in dollars. Really irritating, they must get so many people with it.

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Didymograptus
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by Didymograptus » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:42 am

I use Amex when traveling in Europe for their Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance. Most car rental places will accept it.
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KT785
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by KT785 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:42 pm

Didymograptus wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:42 am
I use Amex when traveling in Europe for their Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance. Most car rental places will accept it.
While it's true that most car rental places in Europe will take AMEX, OP would still be better off using his Chase Sapphire Reserve card for car rentals (if applicable) as it provides primary coverage unlike AMEX which provides secondary coverage; you'd need to pay extra for primary with AMEX through their "premium car rental protection."

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whodidntante
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by whodidntante » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:45 pm

I've had luck using AmEx in Europe. Maybe you know already, but you cannot assume universal credit card acceptance in Europe. It depends on where you are going and what you are doing. And there are still issues that show up if you do not have a chip and PIN priority card. For example, I could not buy a high speed train ticket in Italy from the automated kiosk, but I was able to work around that by using their mobile app.

denovo
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by denovo » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:28 pm

momo54 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:26 am
My wife and I will be vacationing in Europe next month and a friend of mine who travels more extensively then us suggested we leave our American Express card at home and bring my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and Cap One card .He told me Amex is very "limited" in Europe ! Is this true ? As you probably guess we have never visited Europe.
Your friend is smart. Most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee when using abroad. Your chase sapphire and all capital one's do not. Don't forget to set up a travel notice with chase (cap one doesn't do that anymore). Leave AmEx at home.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

paramedic
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by paramedic » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:26 pm

straws46 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:37 am
Amex is accepted in most high dollar places, but Visa is much more broadly accepted. Take both if we want. If you have an ATM card that reimburses fees as Schwab does, take it to get cash. We never get much cash since many countries (England, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic countries) aren't on the Euro and it's wasteful to come back with lots of Zloties, Forints and Kroners and pounds.
This is exactly on point. I found AMEX to be well-accepted at hotels and high dollar places. Visa was far more widely accepted at restaurants, especially casual restaurants. I agree with the idea of taking an ATM card and withdrawing a small amount of local currency as a backup for places where no credit cards are accepted.

BeneIRA
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by BeneIRA » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:53 pm

You need to be more specific on the countries you will be visiting. Austria, for instance, is very cash heavy. Italy is all Visa and Mastercard and they typically want something to cost at least 10 Euros before using a card and their terminals are “down” sometimes. United Kingdom? Accepts Amex and also heavy on mobile wallet. In France, they do accept Amex. Does the Amex have foreign transaction fees?
Last edited by BeneIRA on Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TNL
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by TNL » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:18 pm

Amex acceptance really depends on the country and city that you're in. In Ireland, I found Amex to be very widely accepted in Dublin and the busy areas of Galway but aside from that, it was harder to find places that would take Amex. In Rome, it mostly was just hotels and the shuttle company we used, and the train tickets. Greece, hardly anyone took. When I am in Europe, I try my Amex first, then the Citi Costco Visa (no foreign exchange fee as of this year) and then I also have my Fidelity Visa (1% exchange rate) as a backup.

criticalmass
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by criticalmass » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:12 pm

Amex may be accepted in fewer places, it is widely accepted at major rental car chains and hotels in Europe. If you enjoy the extra coverage with Amex premium rental coverage, it may be worth it.

Beware any FTF that your Amex may have.

There is one major reason to use Amex, especially at hotels: Amex PROHIBITS dynamic currency conversion (DCC). Some merchants and hotels e.g. certain Marriott locations refuse to charge you in Euros/Pounds/Kroner/Francs etc. so they can gouge you with a terrible conversion rate to US dollars.

Technically MasterCard and Viss rules say you have the right to be charged in local currency, but these merchants don’t recognize this right.

Use Amex and voila! No more DCC. That savings can exceed any FTF cost.

Some have had success disputing DCC with Visa and MC. Many have not.

02nz
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by 02nz » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:12 am

criticalmass wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:12 pm
Amex may be accepted in fewer places, it is widely accepted at major rental car chains and hotels in Europe. If you enjoy the extra coverage with Amex premium rental coverage, it may be worth it.

Beware any FTF that your Amex may have.

There is one major reason to use Amex, especially at hotels: Amex PROHIBITS dynamic currency conversion (DCC). Some merchants and hotels e.g. certain Marriott locations refuse to charge you in Euros/Pounds/Kroner/Francs etc. so they can gouge you with a terrible conversion rate to US dollars.

Technically MasterCard and Viss rules say you have the right to be charged in local currency, but these merchants don’t recognize this right.

Use Amex and voila! No more DCC. That savings can exceed any FTF cost.

Some have had success disputing DCC with Visa and MC. Many have not.
Yes some merchants are really bad about this, and you have to get persistent. In a few cases I refused to sign the receipt until the merchant changed the currency. I also now snap a picture of the receipt clearly showing I declined DCC, which should help with the card issuer if there's a dispute.

Amex's premium cards (e.g. Platinum) generally have no foreign-transaction fees, but many Amex cards charge 2.7%. This seems to be changing for the better though - Amex recently introduced a Hilton-branded card that has no annual fee AND no foreign transaction fees, which I believe was a first for Amex.

TravelGeek
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:50 am

KT785 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:42 pm
While it's true that most car rental places in Europe will take AMEX, OP would still be better off using his Chase Sapphire Reserve card for car rentals (if applicable) as it provides primary coverage unlike AMEX which provides secondary coverage; you'd need to pay extra for primary with AMEX through their "premium car rental protection."
That would likely make no difference unless the OP has another insurance to which the Amex card could be secondary. Personal domestic automobile insurance policies tend to not cover international rentals, so most people don’t have coverage through them and any credit card coverage is the only one, thus primary. I love my CSR and used it just today for a domestic car rental for the primary feature, but abroad my Amex will do, too (I still use the CSR for 3x points).

TravelGeek
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by TravelGeek » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:53 am

OP - take all three credit cards (more, if you have more). A credit card weighs between 5 and 12 grams, so it isn’t going to cause you to exceed your baggage allowance and it never hurts to have a spare (kept separately from the primary) in case a card gets stolen, damaged or lost. Then see for yourself and use what is accepted and suits your needs.

criticalmass
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Re: Amex in Europe

Post by criticalmass » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:09 am

TravelGeek wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:50 am
KT785 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:42 pm
While it's true that most car rental places in Europe will take AMEX, OP would still be better off using his Chase Sapphire Reserve card for car rentals (if applicable) as it provides primary coverage unlike AMEX which provides secondary coverage; you'd need to pay extra for primary with AMEX through their "premium car rental protection."
That would likely make no difference unless the OP has another insurance to which the Amex card could be secondary. Personal domestic automobile insurance policies tend to not cover international rentals, so most people don’t have coverage through them and any credit card coverage is the only one, thus primary. I love my CSR and used it just today for a domestic car rental for the primary feature, but abroad my Amex will do, too (I still use the CSR for 3x points).
Amex has optional premium rental car coverage available that is superior to other cards, besides primary/secondary status.

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