American Express

Old Dec 21st, 2014, 11:48 AM
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American Express

My daughter will be studying abroad in Italy & traveling throughout Europe on weekends. She got a pre-autorized Amex Everyday Card which is revolving. Now I'm hearing that Amex is not widely accepted throughout Europe.

It is mostly for emergency purposes. However, is Amex accepted at restaurants, shops, hotels?

BC she was given a decent credit limit, she is unable to get a Visa or MasterCard.

Any feedback much appreciated.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 11:57 AM
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While Amex is less accepted than visa/MC but she won't have any problems using her card.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 12:05 PM
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It depends...it is accepted in large cities at major hotels or chain restaurants. Smaller towns or family owned hotels and rstaurants it will not be accepted...
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 12:08 PM
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True -- I assumed weekend trips to major cities - but if she is going to small villages/mom & pop restaurants it will be less useful.

However - I also assume (maybe wrongly) that she has an ATM card - right? If so she can just get € out of cash machines as needed.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 12:24 PM
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ger a Visa or MasterCard if she can - best exchange rate and every place takes them - mainly upscale places take AMEX which for a student studying may be fairly useless - try not to have t carry lots of cash around and c.c. like Visa and MC and some of these have little or not transaction fees. Oh take the AMEX but don't expect it to be very useful. Like supermarkets McDonalds, cafes, train stations, metro stations all take Visa or MC but rarely AMEX and never Discover cars.

getting cash out of ATMs as needed can be very costly as many banks charge a flat fee of $5 for any amount withdrawn thus you do not want to take out a little a lot. But check the card's bank that issues it for all transaction fees as they can vary from bank to bank.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 01:10 PM
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It's very, very difficult to think of ANYTHING a frugal student would do in Europe in which Amex-accepting suppliers play a part.

The world's largest international airline, Ryanair, for example does accept Amex - but charges a substantial premium for it over debit cards. As PalQ says, most public transport in Europe will have nothing to do, with it. Nor will any real budget hotels, or hostels. And absolutely no restaurants - or student mensas - she should be using. I've never noticed it accepted at museums, art galleries or admission-charging churches.

Unless she's really determined to cut herself off from student life, Amex is useful only for providing emergency access to services no sensible student would ever waste her budget on.

She needs a debit card or ATM card. And, in my view, she doesn't need a mother with no experience of travelling in Europe to interfere with her planning.

If she's not grown up enough to be organising all this for herself, she shouldn't be at a university.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 02:09 PM
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If the AMEX is for emergency purposes, what is the primary source of fund?

When you said,"she is unable to get a Visa or MasterCard", I presume unable to get only in her name? If this is the case, a way to provide her with CC and debit cards is to make them your cards with additional cards in her name. Of course, this is a cosigner arrangement where you are liable for any legitimate charges, but when she signed up to study aboard, how she pays for expenses should have been a check off item before saying yes to the program.

When my daughter did this, I created two separate joint checking accounts with me and gave her a Visa and a Mastercard debit cards attached only to the two checking accounts.

When she needed more money, I just transferred fund from my accounts to our joint accounts in just seconds.

Also read the terms of your Amex Every Card, yes that is the small prints. Pay attention to how much charge they levy on usage, transfers, foreign transactions, etc. Financial instruments for those who cannot obtain full functional products that I have seen are often stacked to siphon off more from those who are least cable of paying like the sub-prime lending.

As other mentioned, students would probably go to cash only budget eateries. Also, with cash if she can keep them from pickpocketed, there is no chance of cards being skimmed. A skimmed card is a headache at home and can be a monumental problem abroad.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 02:39 PM
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it sounds like the OP is saying because she got this one credit card, her possible credit is so high that no other card will give her one. I don't understand saying it is "preauthorized", it is a credit card from what I've read, not just a prepaid debit card, so I don't know what that means.

If her credit limit it too high (and I agree an Amex can be used in quite a few places in big cities, but I would never go to Europe with it as my only CC), if you have enough time before the trip, can't you request it be lowered enough to allow her to get another card? Because ther eis no other solution if you know for sure she can't get a Visa or Mastercard with that Amex (I don't really understand that, I thought it was each individual bank who decided who they were giving their cards to, not Visa as an entity, because different card types have different credit requirements, even within the Visa name).

Are you sure she can't get any other credit card? YOu might try a Capital One Quicksilver One Mastercard as it has no foreign transaction fee, no annual fee, and is also for people with limited credit. Or try that if she gets Amex to lower her credit limit.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 04:23 PM
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We use AmEx as out primary card to get miles and use it wherever possible. It is generally taken in the moderate and up hotels, shops and restaurants. However, more modest places - such as a student might use often will not accept it - but will take only visa or MC.

Note that it is never a good idea to go with just one credit card - since anything may happen. She should also have a debit card to she can pull cash from her checking account for walking around money - anything less than $20 or $25.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 06:43 PM
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...While Amex is less accepted than visa/MC but she won't have any problems using her card......

I do not agree. As a Amex card holder, I find that the card is rarely accepted except at higher end hotels and restaurants. For run of mill charges it has to be a MC or Visa. Sorry that is just the way it is.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 06:56 PM
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I was just on the Am Ex site and cannot find a pre-authorized Everyday card offered by Am Ex. There is an Everyday card which appears to be a standard, no fee, American Express card. The card does charge 2.7% on foreign transactions. There are better cards available. For example the Capitol One card that does not charge any transactions fees and is accepted everywhere.
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Old Dec 21st, 2014, 07:34 PM
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When DD was studying in Madrid, we had a joint account at my credit union for her to access cash. With both names on the account, if there were any problems, I could stop in and deal with them. The credit union also issued her a low limit credit card (her name only).

She also had an ATM card from her college credit union account. It was frozen not longer after she arrived in Madrid (something mailed to her at her dorm was returned since she was no longer living there). She was unable to access that account the entire 6 months as she was unable to straighten it out long distance.

She needs a back-up plan (or two).
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 12:33 AM
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My son also just returned from Madrid and my older son studied in Florence, so we looked into this just a few months ago. Citibank now offers a chip card for college students which charges no foreign transaction fee, plus offers 2500 miles. Most of my son's friends used this card everywhere in Europe. Previous credit shouldn't matter for this card, as long as you daughter is a full-time student.

https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/cr...preferred-card


Amex is fine for a backup card because Amex tends to provide good emergency servicee. But what is even better is a supplemental CC in your name (assuming you trust your kid, of course). Chase BA (also no transaction fee, with chip) provided a free card for our son.

Make sure you tell your daughter to keep her cards in different places. And, of course, have her call the banks to let them know she'll be abroad.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Why not give her an extra card on one of your Visa or MC accounts. She can save it for the places where AmEx is not accepted and give you access to her checking account to pull the funds to cover any charges.

Also - this will give her a second card which IMHO everyone needs.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:50 AM
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Amex isn't useless, just next to useless and also costs you more to use where it is accepted. Dump it.

Get your daughter a credit card and ATM/Debit card that do not charge foreign exchange loading. If you have to get the cards in your name with your daughter added as a secondary card holder then do so. Follow the advice above of those who are parents and have already dealt with this including the 'chip issue'.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:54 AM
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I've never paid extra to use my Amex in Europe or anywhere. FNAC stores in Paris and Spain accept it, for example, and I was glad as the entire Visa/MC network was down in their store once when I was there, and they would only accept Amex.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 02:57 PM
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You never pay extra to use an AM Exp except for the currency exchange fee. Our experience is exactly the same as kybourbon's daughter in Madrid when our son was in Madrid (wonder if they were there the same time?) Our son's university credit union froze his debit card. Which cause all kinds of problems since he did not have a backup debit card. The big issue was that I was prevented by the privacy policy from "discussing" his debit card problem. But final talked at great length with the head of the credit union, inundated him with personal information relating to my son - student id #, ss#, date of birth, enrollment info, etc., etc., until he final caved in and said, "Just this once," and solved the problem.

But that drove home the point that we needed to be listed on his credit and debit cards so that we can address any problem that might arrive. We have taken that a step further based on that experience and now have both sons authorized to discuss our credit/debit cards accounts if problems arise during our travels. Far easier and more convenient for us to send an email or make a call to a son, and let them resolve any problem we might have.

So make sure your are an authorized personal to discuss her accounts.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 03:05 PM
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Christina, I'm sorry to see that you really don't understand how you 'pay extra' for using an Amex card. I find it a sad state of affairs that so many travellers do not understand how exchange works and how banks and/or other credit card issuers make money of them.

In brief Christina you need to know that there is an exchange rate called the Interbank Rate. That is the rate at which banks exchange money between themselves. That is the rate of exchange therefore that you want to get if you can.

Most banks as well as Amex add a percentage on top of that rate. Amex charges you 2.7% on TOP of the Interbank Rate, so yes, you are 'paying extra' every time you use it in a foreign country.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 05:33 AM
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For me, it's worth only carrying my AmEx and dealing with the occasional fees and ATM stops because the perks are great with my card. Yes, AmEx is less widely accepted than Visa, but I've never had more than a 2 minute hiccup in finding an ATM when a retailer or restaurant didn't accept my AmEx. I've never found a hotel that didn't accept AmEx, but that's just my experience. For me personally, the fees are worth it. For you or your daughter or the other posters, the fees may not be. It's all personal opinion. On my first solo trip a couple decades ago I was nervous about only taking my AmEx so I took a pre-paid Visa as backup...came home with all but $20 on the card. Everyone's take is different, but if the priority is no fees, take the advice from crosscheck. Otherwise, she'll lean into herself a bit and troubleshoot along the way - AmEx isn't *widely* accepted but she'll be fine.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 06:42 AM
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It's not the user who pays more with the American Express card, it's the supplier. That's why many businesses, such as mine, prefer not to accept them.
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