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American bank cards in Paris (euro mastercard issues)?

American bank cards in Paris (euro mastercard issues)?

Jan 18th, 2014, 06:06 AM
  #1  
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American bank cards in Paris (euro mastercard issues)?

I just got to Paris for a 4 month stay as a student and had a not so great start at the CDG airport when both my MasterCard and Visa debit cards were refused by the automatic ticketing booth when I tried to purchase my RER ticket. I am planning on using the metro a lot while I am here, so should I expect this problem again since I don't have a chip and pin card or one based in euros?
artemislife is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:14 AM
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It likely didnt work because it didn't have a chip and pin. Yes, that is likely still to be a problem. The fact your account isn't in euros wouldn't have been the issue.

They will work in bank machines (you said they were debit not credit cards) so just pull out some cash and use that in automated machines.

If you meant credit cards they should work if you go up to a manned ticket booth and they will use the swipe and signature to do the transaction
jamikins is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:46 AM
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What jamikins said

In Paris and Normandy last June we had no problems at all using our 2 different debit cards at ATM's and didn't have any trouble with our 2 different non-pin (they say they have "chips" but it's not the technology that Europe is using) credit cards for MAJOR things, like hotels, car rental, and some restaurants. But in the Louvre we couldn't use our cards to rent headphones and I think there was some other time. I'm pretty sure I bought Metro tickets with a credit card, but I was in a rush and surrounded by my students so it may have been with cash. I did not try to use our debit cards for anything except to get cash.
texasbookworm is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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It is the lack of CHIP and PIN on your (and most of the US) credit cards.

A good primer on this subject is here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/credi...nature-34.html

This is a hot issue as well as in Fodors forum.

You will also have the same problem with the SNCF, the French national railroad system. You would also need to go to a manned ticket window and buy tickets with cash or a US card. The lines can be very long. Don't go to the station just before the departure always expecting to be able to buy a ticket at the last minutes. Either stop by days ahead of your travel, or go early.

Are you going to France on your own or with an agency? If with an agency, did they warn you on the CHIP and PIN problem?

France is not the only country with the issue. You will also have even more problems in the Netherlands.
greg is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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There are two issues here:

debit card
chip and pin

as greg noted, this is a hot issue here, one that often generates more heat than light.
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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Hi...for some strange reason, the ticketing machines at CDG RER station are run by SNCF, the French national railroad and for the most part they do not take cards without the emv chip, whether debit or credit. However the good news is the machines run by the metro (RATP) will take magnetic strip cards or at least they did the last time I was in Paris which was last June. For the most part, most merchants still will take American credit cards sans emv chip but the operative word there is most. The further you get from major touristy things, the more likely you are to face some problem. Of course, there's always cash.
xyz123 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 08:33 AM
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The RER B is operated by the SNCF from Gare du Nord to points north, just as the RER C & D are entirely operated by the SNCF.
kerouac is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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Well you're there now so the only question to be answered is how best to handle things given the facts as they exist today.

So you know your non-chip and pin cards will be problematic in some cases. The only reasonable answer is to use your debit card at ATMs to withdraw cash and not rely on your credit card or debit card being accepted by merchants or machines.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 10:09 AM
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Your cc will be accepted by almost all merchants and at any staffed ticket windows . . . But not in many self serve ticket machines. Your ATM card should work in every cash machine.

So it may be a slight inconvenience because of the ticket machines - you really shouldn't have much problem.
janisj is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 12:00 PM
  #10  
 
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Just use cash, metro tickets or passes don't cost that much that this should be a big problem. And if you are there four months, you should be buying monthly passes, it sounds like you don't even know about them (Navigo cards).
Christina is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 12:03 PM
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oh, I think if you have a regular Navigo card, you can even reload it online, not sure but you can check. see http://www.navigo.fr/
Christina is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 01:03 PM
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Where I've tried last summer, the American CC was accepted by the dispensing machines in the métro stations.
Michael is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Firstly, ATM cards are never an issue.

The problem is with magnetic strip credit cards, those without a chip. At CDG, the ticket machines in the Terminal 2 station only take credit cards with chips. The ticket machines at Roissypol, the second RER B stop at CDG, will accept magnetic strip cards. In either case, the attendants at the service windows will accept your magnetic strip cards.

The pin itself is rarely an issue because chip and signature cards usually work at these terminals.

Navigo or Navigo Découverte cards can be recharged on line using a 7€ USB adapter connected to your computer. That's the theory anyway. I have such an adapter but I has never been able to recharge my Navigo as all of my attempts have ended in my card's being rejected, even when using the Verified by Visa approval sequence. I can recharge my Navigo at a kiosk with the same card (it's a US hybrid chip and pin/signature card), so I have no explanation why the on line process never works (and I have tried it a number of times).

Many of the ticket kiosks still accept cash so if your credit card is rejected, you still will be able to purchase any needed tickets/passes.
Sarastro is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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You can purchase carnets of t+ tickets and purchase or recharge your Navigo pass in many shops in Paris. Find those locations here by arrondissement:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/achat_ti...departement=75
MaineGG is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 05:41 PM
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You haven't touched on another possible problem with both credit and debit cards -- the service charges. I assume your cards are foreign, not French, so there likely will be a fee imposed by your bank back home on each and every transaction. Policies vary, so check with your bankers. Casually pulling out the plastic for every purchase, as you may do at home, could end up wasting a tidy sum over the space of four months. Use cash for everything except large purchases.
Southam is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:09 PM
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>>Casually pulling out the plastic for every purchase, as you may do at home, could end up wasting a tidy sum over the space of four months. Use cash for everything except large purchases.<<

But the bank likely adds a fee to ATM transactions too. IME - cash out of an ATM w/ a debit card, and charged purchases w/ a credit card end up costing about the same.

So I'd personally charge as many or more things than I'd pay cash - though I regularly use both. But it probably ins't a great idea to be carrying large amounts of cash, and cash isn't necessary except for the few places where your card won't work.
janisj is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 09:12 PM
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Correct. The fees to obtain cash in euros are just as expensive as the fees to use a credit card. There are probably more no fee credit cards, i.e. PenFed, Andrews, Capital One; than there are no fee ATM cards.
Sarastro is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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The OP should have asked about WHICH cards to use before leaving home. Too late for that now. Four months of paying fees, makes me shudder to think of all that lost money.

Janisj has got it right that if you are using cards from a bank that charges for foreign withdrawals, both are likely to be the same. The US banks did differ in that regard with most debit cards not having exchange loading fees while CCs did, but in recent years that has changed.

Of course the real answer is to use cards that do not charge fees. But, too late now for the OP.

You WILL run into problems and so it is best not to RELY on your credit card. Any advice that says you won't have much problem or inconvenience, gets you nowhere when you DO. Only cash will help you then.

It is entirely possible that during a 4 month stay you will wallk into a little restaurant off the tourist track and your card will be refused. That you will go into a little shop to buy some fresh vegetables or a magazine and your card will be refused. etc., etc.

We aren't talking about a tourist who never wanders off the tourist track are we.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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Frankly, living in Paris for 4 months without a chip and pin card is going to be a pain in the butt.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 09:46 AM
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Frankly, living in Paris for 4 months without a chip and pin card is going to be a pain in the butt.

Not really. I travel in Europe for two months every year and rarely have problems with the card. Adding a couple of months to the stay will not change the conditions that much. That said, I was surprised on how many large customer capacity restaurants in Germany take cash only. But I have not come across any ATM problems.
Michael is online now  

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