a VirtualTourist member from Chicago
1st question, I'm having a hard time picking where to spend my last two nights in London, we're arriving at 22:31 on the Eurostar from Paris into St. Pancras. I originally thought to book the Ibis Euston which I could walk to from St. Pancras. But then I started looking again and found the Premier Inn on Old Street, it's slightly cheaper, has tremendous reviews on TA and is only 8 minutes by tube from St. Pancras. It says it's just a 2 minute walk from the station to the hotel, would there be any reason to worry about us 2 ladies walking with our luggage at 23:00 or slightly later? I'm also looking at the Ibis City Center(Aldgate East, I'm familar with the neighborhood), same price as the Premier Inn, the only advantage is that we are probably going to the Tower of London the next morning and it's very close.
2nd question, I got all excited when I heard that my credit card had Chip and PIN cards for it's US customers. Except it arrives and it's not chip and PIN, it's chip and signature, still has a swipe strip on the back. Do European chip and PIN cards still have the swipe strip? (if so I'm curious as to how they are used in the US, maybe it's used like a debit card?) Do I just need to get a PIN for my new credit card (I think I have one for cash advances but I've never had to do that)? Or is does it still have the same problem as my swipe card? To be honest, I have only had problems using it for gas at unattended stations and certain ticket machines in Paris' metro. And I'm guessing I still will.
In my opinion, if there are two of you, it should not be a problem walking from the station to your hotel.
Yes, European debit cards (chip and pin) do have the swipe strip, which can be used on at least some hand held card payment terminals in case the chip does not work. I am not sure about self service machines though or whether it will be possible to sign the receipt instead of using the pin number. The pin has become really widespread now and is required almost everywhere in the UK.
I asked the Europeans not long ago about whether they could use their chip-and-pin cards in the US (because of the mag stripe), and they all said "yes"...
As for your chip-and-signature, VTer kathymof recently had your exact same experience - the bait and switch by a credit card company - and if you find her posting, you will see that she's found at least one US based company that will sell you the real deal. Sadly, Travelex, which would sell you a debit card in pounds or euros that was a true chip-and-pin card (but you could buy it at US airports), has discontinued this card...too bad, I used it and it worked fine...
Hi Kristi, safe enough at 2300. Old street, like most of the fringes of "the City" is becoming a bit gentrified now. The Aldgate East hotel is no more than fifteen minutes easy walk to the Tower if that is of any use. Did we go into my mates pub, the Aldgate Exchange, I can't remember. If so, it is 100 yards from there. Very safe area if you fancy it.
Yes, our cards still have a signature strip and a magnetic swipe on the back but I really don't know how your cards work. You know what I am like with technology!
Thanks, I figured we would be fine but I always like to check. Now I just have to decide which one to stay at, all are about the same price if pre booked, the Premier Inn gets the best reviews, the Ibis Euston is a straight shot to Heathrow for Tuesday and doesn't require the tube on Sunday, the Ibis City is the closest to where we are going during the day on Monday.....And I don't think we went into the Aldgate Exchange, if you are in town when I visit, maybe we can give it a go!
I guess I'll just have to test the card once we get to London or Paris and make sure I have a PIN just in case. If it doesn't work at the Gare du Nord in Paris at the machines, at least I know that I can go to the Relay store at the station instead of standing in that huge line!
Agree with the others that you'll be safe enough at Old Street at that time.
I reckon you will feel the need for a PIN enabled card here. Yes, ours do all have the magnetic strip, but most places use chip and pin and may not be set up to accept a signature instead. If you have a PIN at least you'll be able to withdraw cash so that should be the minimum you aim to have
Actually the signature cards work just about everywhere, I think until the US gets on board with the Chip and PIN cards that you'll still be able to use them in Europe. I have gotten weird looks from some young hotel clerks outside the main cities but then an old timer steps in and shows them how to use it :-)
The only places I've had problems thus far are unmanned gas stations and in Paris trying to buy metro tickets from a machine at Gare du Nord (but it worked in other stations, figure that one out).
I do carry some cash with me for smaller things but I've never had a problem at a hotel or car rental agency or anything else that requires a lot of money.
I have a separate debit card that I withdraw cash from, I'd never do it on my credit card as I'd have interest due on it since it's a cash advance.
I'll call my credit card company and see what they say about the PIN, I can't fathom why they'd have a chip card if it offered no benefit....
2 summers ago, I ate in an Italian restuarant in London near Westminster Cathedral (yes, the Catholic one). The waiter asked if my card had a "codice" ("pin" in Italian), and I said "no"...so I asked him if it would be a problem to bring US style cards to Europe...he looked at me like I was nuts...of COURSE, so long as North Americans are coming to Europe to spend tourist dollars, places that cater to tourists will find a way to take our cards...dabs, your take is still pretty much correct...our cards will be a problem at self service machines, but not with tourist-oriented places that have live cashiers...
The chip on your card goes with a PIN, you should ask your bank for one (4 or 6 digits, no matter) as they do issue one.
And yes, all europrean chipped cards have a magnetic stripe and signature stripe. Many automats read only chips, but when the system is "doubled" with humans, magnetic stripe can usually be used.
It was quite weird for me to use my chipped card with the handheld magnetic readers in the US, as I don't even remember when we went to smart cards (in the eighties?)
I'm sure there's a reason why the US has been so resistent to issuing these cards but I'm quite sure I don't know what it is!
For a long time, US banks were reluctant to spend all the money to change/upgrade the card readers (now you have to have an RFID reader and a keypad), when they didn't feel that the system was any more secure than the swipe and sign system (NOTE: people are 'supposed 'to ask for your ID with swipe and sign, but too many people don't). And I seem to recall reading about hackers who have already claimed to have broken the codes in the chips...but, no matter, the sheer pressure of the free market is forcing the US banks to change anyway...hurray (I think) for the free market! ;-)
And meanwhile here we've introduced PIN-free touch technology ;-)
Do you mean where you wave a card at a card reader and (when close enough) it automatically cherges the purchase to your card? We've had those for years in the US, but mostly at gas stations...er, "locations where they sell petrol".
Our bank informed us that they were not going to do chip and pin cards because the "next" thing was cell phones instead of cards of any type. It's all very interesting and I suppose now we all have to get a smart phone.
I finally broke down and got a smartphone, seemed like I was the only one who didn't have one. It comes in really handy locally when we are driving around Chicago but I still don't utilize it the way most people do. I have a couple of friends who just should have them surgically grafted onto their hand :-)
We just got a cell phone (1) year before last. I use it mostly as an alarm clock. I guess a smart phone might work just as well for that. If you live long enough, you see everything. It's odd watching young couples in restaurants sitting there poking at their phones instead of talking to each other. What happened to romance? ;^)
I'm not sure that the Ibis Euston is a "straight shot to Heathrow"... I'm not sure what you mean, but the train at Euston doesn't go to Heathrow, the Paddington station one does, however, have the Heathrow Express. Either hotel would be good for transportation links and if you are a bit nervous walking with your luggage that late at night, a cab would be a short ride to either.
The Ibis Euston is a short walk from Kings Cross/St Pancras, I figure we can walk and catch the Piccadilly line there which is a straight shot to Heathrow :-)
Oh and if you ever travel from Paddington in the future, the Heathrow Connect is just as convenient as the Express and 1/2 the cost. Takes a little longer, I think it's 15 vs. 30 minutes or maybe slightly less difference.
Maybe too late now but have you checked Premier Inn's own site? There are Premier Inns at Euston and Kings X too (have stayed at Euston and it's fine). They very often have deals if you book non-flexible and pay in advance.
Thanks, yes I did see that they had two hotels in the area but the Ibis is 160£ for 2 nights and the Premier Inns are 207£ and 224£ for the 2 nights, all of those rates prepaid with no changes. The Premier Inn Old Street is 150£ for the 2 nights. I almost booked the Ibis Euston last night but since the prices haven't changed since I started looking I figured I could wait a bit and see if something else better popped up.