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Can I use my ATM/Debit card for purchases?

Can I use my ATM/Debit card for purchases?

Old Feb 27th, 2003, 01:07 PM
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Can I use my ATM/Debit card for purchases?

On several trips to France I have used my ATM/Debit card (Visa "Check Card") to withdraw money from ATM's but have always used my MBNA Visa credit card to pay for hotels, restaurants, gas and other purchases. Is it possible to use my "Check Card" for purchases as well and have the money taken directly from my checking account? Can it be used in autoroute toll booths? (I know from experience that gas station pumps won't take either of these cards.) Are there advantages or disadvantages to using one over the other?
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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I would stick with how you have been doing it. I use my ATM/debit for ATM withdrawals only. I don't feel comfortable using my debit card anywhere else internationally. I don't need my checking account wiped out, especially on vacation.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 01:23 PM
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I agree with Dori, it's safer to use a credit card for purchases. You can easily dispute fraudelent charges on a cc but if your bank account is cleaned out it could take forever to rectify or worse yet, your money might be gone forever.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 02:25 PM
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I had a TERRIBLE experience 9 months ago owning an ATM debit card. My wallet was stollen and the debit card was used for many many purchases. The money (more than $7,000) in my checking account was wiped out before I hardly realized that my wallet was stollen. Of course, the thieves couldn't use it to access an ATM machine because they didn't have my pin but they sure used it for shopping! I was stuck 3,000 miles away with virtually no $ in my checking.

To make a long sad story short....after completing numerous claims (had to do one for each individual transaction) I eventually got all my money replaced but what a hassle! I now ONLY own the ATM card without the Visa/Mastercard type logo so if this were to ever happen again, it wouldn't do anyone any good. I use my ATM card to withdraw cash. All other transaction are made with a REAL credit card where you have the opportunity to review your bill prior to paying it to make sure charges are legitimate.

I would NEVER consider owning another debit card, only an ATM card. I still use my ATM card for some round town purchases but without the Visa/Mastercard logo it will work ONLY with a pin....no "swipe" and go. Don't own the kind with the Visa/Masterdard logo. Do not believe the bank if they tell you that merchants are suppose to have you insert your pin each time it's used as a debit card....this isn't the case as my experience proves. There are smaller business that just don't own the keypads for inserting pins.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 02:30 PM
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We used our debit card for everything.

Usually there is a limit to how much you can charge in a day ($5000 I think) and how much you can withdraw in cash or spend using your PIN.

I went up the chain at Wells Fargo and got my limits raised considerably so we could feel comfortable using that card, and if there was some kind of weird emergency we could also cover that on top of regular expenses.

I prefer to keep all the expenses in one place, so it worked out well for us.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 03:21 PM
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Betty1,
My ATM/Debit worked fine in Europe for charges at hotels as well as for cash withdrawals.
It was used 2 times to pay for hotels and for most meals.
We used credit cards and cash for the rest but did not try any toll booths!

The key seems to be keeping a little of each on hand in case one doesn't work.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 05:05 PM
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OK, let's see if I've got this. I can use my Check card just like a credit card for general purchases but it could be dangerous if a)some unscrupulous person in the hotel or restaurant copies my number or b)I lose the card. In either case they could clean me out by making purchases with just a signature and I might have a hard time contesting those expenditures. I am assuming they couldn't get cash since they wouldn't have my PIN. Please correct me if any of that is wrong.

Still wondering: 1)Do you ever have the option of keeping the card in your possession and punching in your PIN instead of signing a slip? If so, that would eliminate danger a) above, right? 2) Can they be used at toll booths?

Maybe I should explain why I am so curious about this question. I will be traveling to France as the leader of a group of eight. They will have prepaid to me a substantial portion of their expenses for the trip. That money is in a seperate bank account that carries my name and the name of one other member of our group. We each have ATM/Debit cards for that account with different PINS (In case I get hit by a truck, they will still have access to their money! Plus, I like having someone else take part of the responsibility. And maybe that will allow us to withdraw more money in a single day - not sure about that, though - I'll have to check with the bank.)

If I pay for hotel rooms, restaurants meals, etc. with my own credit card, I will then have to reimburse myself from that account and it could get complicated. Whereas if I can pay with the ATM/Debit card the money will come directly from the group account. And since we will be traveling in two cars, if I use my credit card to pay tolls and someone in the other car uses his, I'd have to reimburse myself and him. (I know it would be simpler to just use cash for the tolls but I would have to guess how much that other driver would need or else let him use his own cash and reimburse him with cash from the group account.) Something tells me I have made this harder than it needed to be!
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 05:11 PM
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At restaurants, etc. they have these little handheld gizmos that they process your credit cards/debit cards on (not with PIN though). They do it right in front of you so the card is never out of your sight.
No big deal.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 06:49 PM
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both visa and mastercard checkcards/atm cards have the same ground rules. unlike a credit card where you have 30 days to protest a charge to your card, the check cards have no true protection time built in. once the money is gone, good luck. the banks want you to use only a signature (whether false or not) because they get an extra 1.25 dollar charge for a source of revenue if your check card is used without the pin. not nice but true.
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Old Feb 27th, 2003, 10:36 PM
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Betty,

I, too, recommend using ATM cards and credit cards, not debit cards, for the same reasons the previous posters have stated. However, your situation is more complicated than the usual questions regarding debit card versus credit card.

You have undertaken the role of tour guide/director, and that has legal obligations and consequences that you should consider.

Putting the money for the group in a separate account was a good idea. But if you use your personal credit card to pay expenses and then reimburse yourself from the group account, you have "commingled" the funds, something you should try to avoid.

Since the group has entrusted their money to you, you are legally obligated to deliver the travel services for which they paid. If you don't, you must reimburse them for their out-of-pocket costs or return their money to them. If the debit card is stolen and the group account cleaned out, you still have a legal obligation to do so. Unless you can afford to pay all the expenses of the group should the account get cleaned out, I wouldn't use a debit card.

From the informal way you are handling the money, I assume the group you are leading is composed of friends and family. Friends, family, or strangers--legally, you're still obligated to deliver the services they paid for and can be sued if you don't. And yes, friends and families do sue each other in situations such as these. Too often, families are torn apart and relationships irreparably damaged when money is involved. I urge you to minimize the chances of losing the group's money as much as you can.

Have you considered getting a separate credit card for you and your partner and using it exclusively for the group? See if you can get one at the bank at which you have the group account. Or, if you're like me, you probably get 3 or 4 credit card solicitations a week. Choose one with no fee and a low interest rate and then cancel it when the trip is over. This is still a "personal" credit card and you will still have to reimburse yourself, but at least the only expenses on it will be those associated with the group. I think the advantages of credit card protection far outweigh the convenience of the debit card.

In any event, it is vitally important that you keep an accurate and detailed account of the group's expenditures. Please keep all receipts and make note of all expenses for which you did not receive receipts. You may want to keep a running ledger--nothing fancy, just a record of what you spent and where. This is important in case there is any dispute.

This may seem needlessly complicated, but when you are dealing with other people's money, it pays to be meticulous about your record-keeping. Anyway, good luck and enjoy your trip to France!


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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 12:51 AM
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Betty1:

This is part of one of your postings earlier.

I can use my Check card just like a credit card for general purchases but it could be dangerous if a)some unscrupulous person in the hotel or restaurant copies my number or b)I lose the card. In either case they could clean me out by making purchases with just a signature and I might have a hard time contesting those expenditures. I am assuming they couldn't get cash since they wouldn't have my PIN.

I may just be super optimistic, but this sounds exactly like having an ATM/debit card anywhere, including at home. An unscrupulous person at the mall, for instance could copy your number, or you could lose your card at your kid's little league game -- or some equally benign place. My point is, I don't think you have much to worry about that you don't have to worry about at home.

I used my ATM/debit card as a credit card in shops and at restaurants and hotels in France in 1998, and I had no bad experiences.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 03:38 AM
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Well that's the point...you shouldn' use a debit card at home for the sme reason. Anyway, I just don't see the advantage of a debit card. Even laying aside th issue of fraud, and you really can't, why would you want to use a payment medium that immediately takes the money out of your account, thu taking away the possibility of disputing the transaction if the merchandise is defective? If youhave a debit card, as it requies a credit check for the most part, you can get a realy genuine credit card.

Ijust have never understood why people use a debit card. Please somebody explain to me the advantage over usig a credit card the normal way and at the end of the month sending the credit card company one cheque?
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 07:18 AM
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To clear up some confusion regarding whether you use a pin number with your check card-
They can be used with or without a pin number--However, many merchants (Sam's Warehouse, Cotsco) insist on a pin number along with the check card. With a pin there is no charge/lesser charge to them from the issuing bank. Without a pin, there is a charge. Banks try to use the argument that if using your pin, it can be seen!! What they really want is for you not to use your pin so they can generate more income.
 
Old Feb 28th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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There are 2 other options.
1- Get a pre-paid credit card. I believe AAA offers them. They work just like a credit card with all the protection of a credit card. Do a search for AAA on the net.
2- Why not get Travelers checks. You could change one every few days for the incidentals and pay with the rest for all the major expenses. With the checks you are also protected.
Have a great trip!!!
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 03:19 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your advice, suggestions, cautionary tales and general input. You have given me a lot to think about.

I did find this tidbit on the Bank of America Online Banking site (refers to a "Check Card"):

"Please contact us immediately if you realize that your card is missing or if you notice any unauthorized transactions. This is the best way to minimize your potential losses. You may not be responsible for unauthorized card transactions that are reported promptly." (Gives a number to call)

Not quite sure what that means. I plan to sit down with someone at my bank in the near future and see if I can decide what I should do about all this. If I learn anything new, I will post it. Thanks again.

P. S. I guess no one knows about using debit cards to pay tolls?
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Old Feb 28th, 2003, 04:33 PM
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If the debit card has a visa or MC logo on the front then as far as the merchant's equipment is concerned, it is a visa or mc card. Therefore if the motorway toll booths take mc or visa, the debit card will most assuredly work.
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Old Mar 1st, 2003, 06:27 AM
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Betty1, be very careful what the bank tells you. Bank of America also assured me that I had nothing to worry about. Don't believe this!!

Yes, I EVENTUALLY got all my money credited back into my account but like I said, it was a huge hassel filing a seperate claim for each and every purchase made by the thieves. It is a very sick feeling to be thousands of miles away with all your money wiped out. It is like "locking the barn door after the horses are already out".

There really is NO REASON you need a Debit card, an ATM (without logos) works just great and will give you peace of mind. Have an ATM as well as a "real" credit card and you'll function just fine whether abroad or in the USA.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2003, 03:27 PM
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So, I went to the bank today and ordered a new Platinum Check Card that has both my signature and picture on the front of the card. It carries what they call "Total Security Protection." According to the B of A website, and verified by the woman I spoke to, there is zero liablility. B of A will, in case of loss or theft, reimburse "any unauthorized card transactions up to the amount of the loss, when reported within 60 days from the statement date." Also "your account will be credited by the end of the next business day for unauthorized transactions if your card is lost or stolen. (Claim is subject to verification and dollar limit.)" Hmmm...Is this their "out"?

The card also "provides password protection to prevent others from using your card online."

Surely with my (very Anglo-Saxon)name and face on the card, it would be unlikely that anyone would dare to use it if it was lost or stolen and they can't use the number without a PIN or a password. (Except, maybe, over the phone?)

Anyway, the new card and the assurances from B of A have made me confident enough to use my check card in France for hotels, restaurants and other expenses as well as cash withdrawals. And I will, for the first time, use a money belt or pouch.

I will also transfer to the travel account my share of the expenses so that everything can be paid directly from that account (with the exception of the car rental).

There may still be some risk but I now feel that it is small enough to be tolerated.

Hope some of this may be helpful to others. Again, I thank all of you for your input.

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Old Mar 3rd, 2003, 03:59 PM
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Glad it has worked out for you Betty. I guess I don't see the reason you need a debit card ??(yes the banks LOVE it when you have one because of the money they make). I travel through out Europe with only 2 credit cards and an ATM card with no problem. I like making purchases with a credit card incase the merchandise is defective and knowing that I will find this out BEFORE it is paid for. There was an article in the Wallstreet Journal about 18 months ago addressing this very topic & warning people about debit cards. Maybe you could access it through their website (archives). It was an eye opener.

To each his own....hope it all works out for you. Enjoy your trip. Tom
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