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Are Visa and Mastercard equally accepted everywhere in London?

Are Visa and Mastercard equally accepted everywhere in London?

Aug 16th, 2009, 01:37 PM
  #1  
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Are Visa and Mastercard equally accepted everywhere in London?

We have a student in our family going to study abroad for the year in London. We have decided to get a Capital One credit card for student expenses since there are no foreign transaction fees. Does it make a difference if we get Visa or MasterCard? I vaguely recall reading on forums that Visa is more accepted, but I have had no issues using either on my past trips. any thoughts or experiences? thanks.
JamilaZ is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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no real difference. a few companies may charge extra for using one vs. the other, but there's an even split.

either should work. if chip and pin is possible, that would help.
ssachida is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 02:16 PM
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No real difference. Both are accepted just about everywhere. Amex slightly less so.
janisj is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 02:17 PM
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was posting the same time as ssachida . . . .
janisj is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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I've absolutely NEVER found ANYONE accepting one but not the other. Or at any rate not since Access started calling itself Mastercard and Barclaycard started calling itself Visa (there was a city called Bombay back then and a country called Czechoslovakia)

No "a few companies may charge extra for using one vs. the other". There simply isn't a way I've discovered a merchant can obtain a "we accept Visa" decal that doesn't include Mastercard.

There are subbrands (like Electron and Maestro) some people refuse. But mainstream Visa or MC? If they take credit cards and are public spirited enough not to charge you extra for the free credit they're giving you but not cash customers (as they'd be perfectly in their rights, in a country like ours that believes in free trade, to refuse to), they'll take both interchangeably.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 05:44 PM
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Get either but as ssachida said get chip and pin. It is still possible to use a signature in the UK but not all shop assistants know this and it will save time and explanations / arguments.
sashh is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 07:33 PM
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Though chip and pin cards are the norm in the UK and elsewhere, I've never had a problem using my non-chip cards in London. I think I couldn't use the self checkouts at a grocery store once, but otherwise, I just tell the cashier up front that it has no chip, and they swipe it. No big deal, and I've never run into a cashier for whom it was an issue. If it will be a hassle to get a chip and pin card (as I assume it will, with a US account), I wouldn't worry about it.
jent103 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 08:06 PM
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"Get either but as ssachida said get chip and pin."

If you are from the States - chip and pin is not an option. US cc issuers do not use that technology. So don't worry about that. Our non-chip/pin credit cards will work 95+% of the time.

(I did run into a wine bar in Warwick in May where their card reader could not process a non-chip card. But that is the first time in my experience, other than the occasional ticket machines. Not to worry - there is usually an ATM w/i walking distance of anyplace if you need emergency cash)
janisj is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 09:42 PM
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Note that some shops - especially smaller ones - only accept cash, they do not accept any form of plastic
alanRow is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 09:53 PM
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I recommend that the student open a bank account and get a chip type bank card on arrival in Britain. That chip is mighty handy now and then. Some places do not accept credit cards but do accept chip cards. After the student opens an account, wire a bunch of money to it at a cost of about $35 per transaction. This puts the student on a budget and you don't need to pay a CC bill every month.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 12:24 AM
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Note that some shops - especially smaller ones - only accept cash, they do not accept any form of plastic>>>

This does happen - but it's pretty rare. It's usually the one man band convenience shops that don't. In fact most do, but have a minimum transaction level to make it worth their while. So don't plan on buying things like bottles of water and sweets with your card.

Incidentally AMEX is pretty rare here. Dunno why - but it is.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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"Are Visa and Mastercard equally accepted everywhere in London?"

Yes.
Martian is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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thanks everyone. We are going to get the Capital One cash back mastercard and also get a local bank account with debit card.
JamilaZ is offline  
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