Credit cards in Europe

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Dutchgirl
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Credit cards in Europe

Post by Dutchgirl » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:23 pm

I just heard that in order to use credit cards or our bank's ATM cards, a chip card is now needed in Europe. That is, the card needs to have a chip in it. My bank (Mechanics Bank, a local bank in the San Francisco Bay area) does not issue ATM cards with chips in them, and tells me the regular card works in Europe. (It has in the past.) But I don't necessarily trust my bank's information about what works in Europe, and it would be a great hassle if they proved to be wrong.
Bank of America will issue me a credit card with a chip, but with exorbitant transaction fees. I have not yet looked into American Express. I still have about four weeks till I leave.
If anyone has helpful information, I would be very grateful.
Thanks, Dutchgirl

natureexplorer
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by natureexplorer » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:29 pm

As of earlier this month, my credit card without a chip worked just fine.

livesoft
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by livesoft » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:29 pm

I used my chipless ATM card from WellsFargo in Great Britain and France earlier this year to get cash from ATMs without hassles.

Many vendors will not take American Express cards, but I was able to use my Amex at hotels, in taxis, train stations, airports (ticket counters, not vending machines). I was able to use my Capital One card just about everywhere. You have to tell the vendor "sign for it, no PIN". One restaurant refused Amex and my chipless credit card, so I made my local colleague pay. I imagine that if push came to shove, the vendor would've taken my chipless card as all the card reader devices can read both chipped and chipless cards.

That doesn't mean that things haven't change since last week though.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:29 pm

natureexplorer wrote:As of earlier this month, my credit card without a chip worked just fine.
In an ATM or for purchases?

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natureexplorer
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by natureexplorer » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:40 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
natureexplorer wrote:As of earlier this month, my credit card without a chip worked just fine.
In an ATM or for purchases?
Purchases.

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:45 pm

I returned from Germany two weeks ago and had no issues with my chip less Visa
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stan1
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by stan1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:51 pm

It depends what country you are in and what type of business you are trying to use it at.

If you are in Amsterdam, I can guarantee you will be unable to use your unchipped credit/ATM card in a machine to buy a tram/train ticket. Most stations only have machines so you have to make sure you buy at the airport or main station. You can also buy tickets from many hotel concierges. This is as of Feb, 2011.

If you are in Copenhagen, you cannot use it to buy a Metro ticket at most stations (which are unmanned) but can use it at the full service counter in the Airport. There is one machine that will accept unchipped credit cards in the lobby of the main Copenhagen train station. This is as of Sept, 2011.

You'll have better luck in UK, France, and Italy. In Germany you need to be very careful at parking garages and other self service payment facilities. You can find yourself unable to pay your parking fees, and in a situation where you need to find someone to pay for your parking fees with a European card in exchange for cash.

It is a growing problem as some of these countries go almost exclusively cashless. You can also spend a lot of time in Amsterdam looking for an ATM. There definitely isn't one on every street corner.

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Dutchgirl
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Dutchgirl » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:59 pm

Thanks very much for the reassuring replies. I especially want the ATM card to work, mainly in Amsterdam and in Italy.
Thanks again, Dutchgirl.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:22 am

Dutchgirl wrote: Bank of America will issue me a credit card with a chip, but with exorbitant transaction fees.
Does BoA charge an exorbitant fee for having the card or for using it? If the latter why not get the card as a backup? You can use your other cards for most thing, but if you are faced with a situation where only the BoA card will work you can decide, at that point, if the exorbitant fee is worth it. You might be very happy to overpay for the tram ride you need to catch your flight.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by muhtar1938 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:47 am

Dear Group:

Reading your helpful responses to this post, I'm wondering what is the best route for my wife and I regarding an upcoming trip to England and Poland. I've used debit cards virtually since they have been available, but I've heard that they can be a problem outside the country. I don't want to sign up for a major credit card than have to go through the hassle of canceling it when we get back. Any suggestions for an alternative route? Thanks for any advice you can pass along.

Cheers,
Muhtar

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daytona084
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by daytona084 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:55 am

Does the Chase Visa card with "blink"... http://www.chaseblink.com ...work as a "chipped card" in Europe, or are we talking about something different?

livesoft
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:58 am

muhtar1938 wrote:Dear Group:

Reading your helpful responses to this post, I'm wondering what is the best route for my wife and I regarding an upcoming trip to England and Poland. I've used debit cards virtually since they have been available, but I've heard that they can be a problem outside the country. I don't want to sign up for a major credit card than have to go through the hassle of canceling it when we get back. Any suggestions for an alternative route? Thanks for any advice you can pass along.

Cheers,
Muhtar
Sure. Get a a CapitalOne credit card and don't cancel it when you get back.

I've never used a debit card. What are they?
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mptfan
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by mptfan » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:18 am

I was in Italy last month, and I used my Mastercard, American Express and ATM cards with no issues. And they don't have chips.

Some merchants were reluctant to take the Amex because it charges higher fees than Mastercard, but that is another conversation, it had nothing to do with chips.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by muhtar1938 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:54 am

Dear "Livesoft":

The debit card I have with Citizens Bank allows me to choose the "credit" option at the cash register to avoid any charge for a purchase. I use it constantly for online purchases. The amount is then nearly immediately deducted from my personal checking account. So I never borrow any money, just have a convenient alternative to cash. I can always get the ongoing balance by phone. I'm part of the averse-to-borrowing generation, so this suits me just fine. I had the regular credit cards in the past and didn't feel they worth the bother or the fee. No fee for my debit card, if I keep a very reasonable balance in my personal checking account.

Cheers,
Muhtar

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by b4nash » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:22 am

livesoft wrote:Sure. Get a a CapitalOne credit card and don't cancel it when you get back.
muhtar1938 wrote:...I had the regular credit cards in the past and didn't feel they worth the bother or the fee. No fee for my debit card, if I keep a very reasonable balance in my personal checking account.
I acquired a CapitalOne credit card (with no annual fee) just to avoid foreign transaction fees.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by tludwig23 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:53 am

I've needed a chipped card in three places (so far):

1. Dutch train/tram ticket machines
2. Danish metro/train ticket machines
3. French gas stations (for pay at the pump).

My non-chipped no transaction fee Capital One card worked fine everywhere else, including at French gas stations if you go inside to pay.

My ATM card (local credit union) has worked fine to withdraw cash at ATMs.
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by mikeast » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:56 am

I used my chipless ATM and Visa in France, Italy, and Spain last week with no problems. Best to get a Visa Card with no foreign transaction fees. Capitol One offers some cards with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:09 pm

Has anybody had a recent experience with using VISA or AMEX in Sweden?

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by gerntz » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:17 pm

Guess I'll find out in France next month. Thanks.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by buster77 » Sat May 19, 2012 7:34 am

We are in the Czech Republic right now - we have been to dozens of ATMs - our American chip-less card will not work. Plan "B", one of those money change places - we stopped at one , they wanted 3% to transact - that was yesterday, we now have no cash... Getting desperate.. 3% is looking pretty good. :shock: :shock:

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by livesoft » Sat May 19, 2012 9:40 am

buster77 wrote:We are in the Czech Republic right now - we have been to dozens of ATMs - our American chip-less card will not work. Plan "B", one of those money change places - we stopped at one , they wanted 3% to transact - that was yesterday, we now have no cash... Getting desperate.. 3% is looking pretty good. :shock: :shock:
So instead of going to an ATM, have you gone inside a bank and asked about this? And "dozens" means at least 24 different ATMs. There may not be that many ATMs in my entire city.

And how are your credit cards working for charging?
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by allsop » Sat May 19, 2012 10:08 am

livesoft wrote:
buster77 wrote:We are in the Czech Republic right now - we have been to dozens of ATMs - our American chip-less card will not work. Plan "B", one of those money change places - we stopped at one , they wanted 3% to transact - that was yesterday, we now have no cash... Getting desperate.. 3% is looking pretty good. :shock: :shock:
So instead of going to an ATM, have you gone inside a bank and asked about this? And "dozens" means at least 24 different ATMs. There may not be that many ATMs in my entire city.
Must be a small city that you live in :sharebeer

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Lon » Sat May 19, 2012 12:18 pm

Just returned from Spain, Portugal and France and had no difficulty using Schwab Debit Card to access my checking account and obtain Euros, and no difficulty using Capitol One Credit Card (no foreign transaction fees) for any purchases.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Valuethinker » Mon May 21, 2012 8:20 am

buster77 wrote:We are in the Czech Republic right now - we have been to dozens of ATMs - our American chip-less card will not work. Plan "B", one of those money change places - we stopped at one , they wanted 3% to transact - that was yesterday, we now have no cash... Getting desperate.. 3% is looking pretty good. :shock: :shock:
have you tried a bank branch?

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Valuethinker » Mon May 21, 2012 8:23 am

muhtar1938 wrote:Dear "Livesoft":

The debit card I have with Citizens Bank allows me to choose the "credit" option at the cash register to avoid any charge for a purchase. I use it constantly for online purchases. The amount is then nearly immediately deducted from my personal checking account. So I never borrow any money, just have a convenient alternative to cash. I can always get the ongoing balance by phone. I'm part of the averse-to-borrowing generation, so this suits me just fine. I had the regular credit cards in the past and didn't feel they worth the bother or the fee. No fee for my debit card, if I keep a very reasonable balance in my personal checking account.

Cheers,
Muhtar
Muhtar

Not sure I fully understand your situation BUT

- legally a credit card gives you more protection when buying online etc. than a debit card-- by providing credit, the issuer has taken responsibility in law for providing good or service, for fraud etc.

- Most of us have a credit card and only use it when we have to (I never use my debit card, because if it is hacked, the hacker has complete access to my bank account) and pay off the bill at the end of every month

- generally you are better off in Europe paying for everything you can with a credit card, although some merchants do charge an extra fee (Amex is not popular)

Make sure the CC machine is in front of you when the waiter etc. clears the bill so they cannot insert anything additional.

I assume (but do not know) to make bank machine withdrawals (ie ATM) then you need a chip and pin card. Don't know.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Valuethinker » Mon May 21, 2012 8:24 am

VictoriaF wrote:Has anybody had a recent experience with using VISA or AMEX in Sweden?

Victoria
I don't know about the chip and pin angle but I believe almost every merchant and restaurant and hotel in Sweden will take Visa.

It's smaller family run places in Italy and Germany that have tended not to take credit cards. Germans don't use a lot of credit cards, historically, and neither do Italians.

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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Alskar » Tue May 22, 2012 1:36 pm

stan1 wrote:If you are in Copenhagen, you cannot use it to buy a Metro ticket at most stations (which are unmanned) but can use it at the full service counter in the Airport. There is one machine that will accept unchipped credit cards in the lobby of the main Copenhagen train station. This is as of Sept, 2011.
This is not completely accurate. When using a "chipless" Visa card in the metro ticket machines, one needs to enter the PIN number associated with that card. Since most American's only associate PIN numbers with ATM cards, they often don't know the PIN number for their credit card. I know this to be a fact, as I just spoke to somebody that did it a few weeks ago. I confirmed it with a young man I know that was studying abroad in Copenhagen last fall. Both said, you REALLY need to know the PIN number for your credit card or you WILL have issues.

OP: I would take a Capital One credit card (with PIN) and an ATM card (with PIN). This will get you through the vast majority (but not all) of CC transactions throughout Europe. Note that there are no foreign transaction fees on Capital One credit cards.
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Alskar
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Re: Credit cards in Europe

Post by Alskar » Tue May 22, 2012 1:41 pm

tludwig23 wrote:I've needed a chipped card in three places (so far):

1. Dutch train/tram ticket machines
2. Danish metro/train ticket machines
3. French gas stations (for pay at the pump).
I can't speak to #1 and #3, but the Danish metro machines take chipless credit cards if you enter your PIN as part of the transaction. Knowing your PIN number will allow you to complete many, but not all credit card transactions in my experience.
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