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a VirtualTourist member from Boston

France

USE OF AMERICAN CREDIT CARD IN ATM OR GAS STATION PUMP

We would like to use our Capital One Visa Card to withdraw euros from an ATM & to buy gas while in France. We were told that American cards will not work in most European machines because we don't have a chip in the card. Does anyone know if there are certain machines that will accept American cards & what we need to look for.



15 Answers


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Bitola

Yes in most European countries you won't be able to pay with your card as there is no chip & pin.
However you can take money out of ATM.
Look for major banks itch visa/ master logo.
I have opposite problem coming into the state, most of the point of pavymant places won't take my card is unreadable, because has chip and pin.
In some big shops like Galerie Lafayette in Paris, you can pay with your card, but they have to swipe it on the terminal, and not in the card ( chip) reader. That way chip is bypassed and voila you can pay!
Hope this helps.




answered by
Mary Smith from Leicester

It is nothing to do with the country of origin, simply to do with the lack of a chip.

ATMs should be no problem whatsoever. ATM technology links directly with your bank, so it 'knows' there is no chip.

Automated machines (e.g. ticket machines), however, are a different matter. Chipped cards are the norm in Europe and have been the norm for a long time. So it is quite possible that you will come across e.g. automated petrol pumps which will not accept chipped cards.

Simple solution: make sure you re-fuel whilst the petrol station is staffed so you can pay at the kiosk/office if the automated pump won't accept your card.

As Valentina says, although 'swipe' cards are regarded as being very old-fashioned indeed in Europe most places still retain the facility to 'swipe' (not least because chips do sometimes fail, as do card-readers). It's best to check that swiping is possible before you start and it's also a good idea (at least where fuel is concerned) to make sure you have enough cash on you to buy at least enough to get you further forward on your journey. :-)




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Boston

Our Capital One Card does not charge a foreign exchange fee & that is why we thought it would be the least expensive way to get euros ,but i don't know what the ATM fee would be & maybe theres someone that has a better idea.




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Nashville

I have used my Visa debit card in France and many other places in Europe without a problem - some stores have a problem but they copy the info by hand and/or phone - It is rarely a problem and has become less of one over the years - I have ATM fees on my American card, but they are the American bank's fees. You won't have fees on the European side. Better to take out a max in that case, but if you have a card without fees, that is great. In any case, simply have a lot of cash with you just in case, and the less you use the card, the safer it is. Some American banks will block your card abroad unless you notify them you will be traveling, check with your bank on that. Mine did at the beginning but now they know I am all over the place! and the Trust Manager enjoys my stories when I see her!! Have a good trip....




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

We're American and have the Capital One card. The company has a wide variety of cards so check with them and make sure you understand any fees or lack of such for your specific card. The ATM, if attached to a bank, will not charge a fee. Your own bank may well have a foreign transaction fee, so check on that too.

We use our debit cards for cash and our credit cards for purchases. Go to bank ATM machines when the bank is open so if there is a problem, you can go inside and deal with it. Gas is cheapest at supermarché gas stations but they won't take your card unless you go when there is an attendant. The lane is clearly marked and you pay the attendant with your card by swiping in his/her machine. If there is no attendant, find another station. Don't run low on gas out in the country on a Sunday evening because stations that have attendants will be closed. (Voice of experience)

We haven't had much trouble in France with our cards. Glisser is the word for swipe and sometimes we've had to demonstrate but it works. Just hold the card and make a swiping motion and they know what to do. They bring a card machine to the table and European cards go in the front, but there is a nearly invisible slot on the side by the window and American cars are swiped through that. You'll get used to it very quickly.

Don't forget to tell banks you will be gone.

Have a good trip.




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Here's a general tip I wrote about money that may help. [original VT link]

Have a good trip.




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Richardson

Just to reiterate what everyone said here (and what I found in 2011 as I went to Europe twice), in most normal tourist situations (hotels, restaurants, regular and tourist stores, etc.) where the business expects to see North American tourists, they will still have the mag swipe reader...because they can't get your Yankee (or Confederate) dollars otherwise...believe me, most such places are motivated to keep the technology going.

I had picked up a Travelex card in the US with a chip in it (unfortunately, the company no longer offers this service) so I would be armed, but I never HAD to use it...I used it only just to see how it worked.

As the others noted, if you avoid self-service machines late at night when no humans are on duty, you probably won't find such a card necessary...even if occasionally someone has to show a young employee of the establishment how to swipe a card ;-)

heh heh, now that I think about, as I was leaving Fiumicino Airport (Rome) to head up to London to go back to the States, I had exhausted all my euro currency and coins...but I wanted to buy a bottle of water at a bar/coffee stand airside...the barista made a face at me when I asked if I could use the Travelex card (it operated as a debit card, but with a chip in it) to buy the bottle of water, but she let me do it...perhaps her bad face was really because she was talking to three good looking Italian guys in uniform (all Italian guys look good in uniform) and didn't like being interrupted... ;-)

Bill




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

We had to buy a new electric toothbrush in a very out-of-the-way appliance store in 2012 and the gal working had never seen an American credit card. She had no idea what to do. My husband politely walked her through it and it worked just fine. You can't see the swipe slot, but it is there even on the new machines. Not everyone knows it so you have to show them. Most people don't get that far off the tourist path so it shouldn't be a problem.

We did run into problems in Germany and Belgium where they acknowledged their machine would take the card but they simply refused to do so. We've not had that happen in France and we've spent a lot more time in France so if it's a problem there, I think we would have run into it.

Bill, you should wear a uniform. Then you'd get super service . . . ;^)




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Richardson

Sadly, it's not just the uniform I need, but the sleek, tanned, good-looking Italian physique to go with it :-(

I am surprised that you had troubles in Germany and Belgium. I take it that this was at places where North American visitors normally wouldn't be seen?

At an Italian restaurant in London not far from Westminster Cathedral (the Roman Catholic one), the waiter asked me if my card had a "codice" (Italian for "pin"), and after I said "no", I asked him if a mag swipe card from the US would be a problem. He looked at me as if I were insane...OF COURSE THEY TAKE MAG SWIPE CARDS...they want our money...simple as that... ;-)

Bill




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

We were a bit off the beaten track in Germany. I'm not sure about Belgium because I know so little about the country. We've just visited once and visited Brugge, Gent, Damme (all very touristy) and then some smaller places that might not see many Americans. Honestly, I don't know about Belgium; not enough experience. They did acknowledge they could swipe a card but simply said they would not do it. We paid cash. After our first week in Germany on that trip, we carried enough cash to get us through the next couple meals and odd souvenir purchase. When we got home, we called our bank to see if they might soon offer a chip and pin card. They said no because cell phones (mobiles) were the wave of the future. Sigh . . .




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Baltimore

I was able to get a chip in my Bank of America card but my Citibank card does not offer pin and chip. We are headed to Europe in September this year and I am hoping we do not have an problems with our Citibank card as that is the one I normally use. I was in Europe two years ago and had no problem with my swipe card at all. But a lot can change in two years.




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Hi. Have you used this card (BoA) in the automated gas stations? Does it work or do you need a special card for that?

We were in Europe a few months ago and as mentioned, had problems in Germany and Belgium but not in France with the swipe card. Most places in all three countries and all places on the beaten tourist path were fine with the swipe card.




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Brisbane

Other places where we go to the manned booth rather than an automatic machine include the toll booth (peage) on French autoroutes to pay cash (rather than use card) - quite often there are unmanned booths so one must be aware to select the manned one.
Same with ticket dispensing machines in Paris Metro - my card (with chip) did not work so I go to the manned window at the station to buy carnet & have my card swiped.
Re purchasing fuel at supermarket - I have some photos of booth/fuel pumps and typical opening times of supermarket at: [original VT link]

happy trails




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Lyon

Chip or no chip, in Germany cash is often more "appreciated", and used, than plastic. Not surprising that some people did not bother making the extra effort of using another method than the already reluctant "chip and pin"...




answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Do check pedroswift's VT tips via the link he gave you above. Excellent and very useful information . . . with photos.





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