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Can you "Debit" at stores in France (not just ATM's)?

Can you "Debit" at stores in France (not just ATM's)?

Jun 1st, 2007, 07:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 666
Your card will not work as a "debit"card in stores (grocery or otherwise). If it is a debit card WITH a Visa or Mastercard logo it will work like a credit card (they run it through the machine and give you a slip to sign).

Our cards here in France have a "chip" which allows the use of a PIN number to debit our purchases at all kinds of stores (From pharmacy to grocery to tabac shops to gas stations). However, when I go to Belgium, for example, I cannot use it as a debit card - the PIN won't work, and I have to use it like a credit card. So, basically, the debit cards only work as such in the country they're issued in.

PBProvence is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Now I'm confused, but I guess, like Erin464, I'll find out (July, in my case). Most Canadian debit cards I've seen have a Plus or Cirrus logo on the back (as well as the interac logo, of course). I know they work in U.S. ATMs, but I honestly can't remember if I've ever used them in U.S. stores. With all the horror stories of cc companies which totally ignore calls warning them about overseas trips, I was planning to take both my debit cards, but now I'm not sure. My Bank of Montreal card has a Maestro logo (I had to look, I've never heard of it), so kerouac & caroline_edinburgh say that will work in checkouts, only with a signature rather than a PIN. But PBProvence says it has to have a MC logo, & like several other posters, I've never seen a straight MC logo on a Canadian debit card. Maestro is superimposed on interlocking circles like a MC logo-- does that mean it qualifies? My Royal Bank card has only a Plus logo so I guess that means the only possible place it will work is in an ATM. Oh well -- take all the cards, a deep breath, & hope...
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 04:49 PM
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With all due respect to Padraig, the vast majority of, if not all, US debit cards do not work for making purchases in France. We don't have the chip, aren't on the right network...whatever it is, they do not work, period.

That's why none of us can buy gas at supermarket gas stations.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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I don't claim any respect as my due.

I know that a card without a chip will not work on the chip-and-pin system. It can work on the swipe-and-sig system. I know it to be true for Ireland, and think it to be true for France, that traders are authorised to accept cards from places (such as USA) that have not adopted chip-and-pin.

Not that it is relevant but it serves to illustrate: in Portugal, one shop's cardreader could not cope with my chip-and-pin card. The assistant hauled one of the old "fer a repasser" machines out from under the counter and continued with the transaction.
Padraig is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 06:07 PM
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Canada V - In France you will not be able to use your Debit card anywhere but in an ATM to get money.
Your credit card will be able to be used in stores etc.
I found tht my chipped credit card was successful in untended situations but haven't tried it enough to know if that was common or not.
robjame is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 07:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 121
Canada - Here in the SF Bay area, we can use debit cards and ATM-only cards at most supermarkets. We can also get money out in addition to our purchase. Most of the chain grocery stores also have an ATM inside the store.

(And FYI for you US residents...) Personnally, I use an ATM-only card that is not a debit (doesn't have credit card logo like US debit cards do). I prefer the ATM-only card as if it is stolen and somehow used, the bank is responsible for the stolen funds. If I had a debit card stolen and it was somehow used, I would be responsible for the funds (if they didn't catch the crook).

Whenever my bank sends me a new Debit/ATM card, I return it for an ATM-only card.
suz12 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Suz - I just read the Federal Trade Commission's page (http://tinyurl.com/2pd6xk) and it doesn't distinguish between types of ATM or debit cards.

The important thing with an ATM or debit card is to report it immediately. If you report it before any unauthorized withdrawals have been made, you're not liable at all. If you report it within business 2 days, you're liability is $50. If between 2 and 60 days it's $500. After 60 days, you can lose everything in the account plus any overdraft line of credit.
toedtoes is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 121
Hey - great web-link. Thanks. I also checked consumer reports and searched "ATM liability". (I can't figure out how to do that "tiny url" thing). There is a good user-friendly discussion there. They echo what you said and add another few good tidbits.

suz12 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 08:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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No problem - I got a bit worried when I read your post and thought I better check into it a bit.

To do the tinyurl, just copy the long url you want to post, go to www.tinyurl.com and paste it in. The website will create a new tinyurl and then you just copy that and paste it into your post here.
toedtoes is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 09:08 PM
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Thanks Toed!
suz12 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 09:36 PM
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We do have credit cards in Canada with a chip on them. I don't work in retail, but volunteer as a cashier at a fund-raising sale every year for my ski club. This year we had to learn a new step for cards with chips. The sale was last October, so my memory is fuzzy, but here goes...

When the credit card was swiped, the display would say something like "enter card into chip reader" and we would have to also slip the card into another slot on the machine and it would have to stay in the machine until the transaction was complete. I don't recall if the person had to enter a PIN as well. I think it the machine will only ask you for this extra step if the machine supports it. We rent ours for the few days of the sale, so had the latest models. Retail stores may take some time to upgrade theirs.

Not very many people had cards with the chips, probably less than 5%. I don't know why they would be issued instead of the regular ones. Maybe only the platinum cards had them?

I've never heard of debit cards having a chip.

This is my understanding of the different types of cards (in Canada):

debit - allows you to do ATM transactions and make payments at retail outlets, all transactions require a PIN. Not affiliated with a credit company (e.g. Visa) so no logos on the card

credit - can get cash advances from ATMs (with PIN), make retail purchases which require a signature. Charges go against your credit card and you get a monthly statement. Card has Visa/MC/Amex on the card.

cheque card - works like a credit card when making purchases (requires signature, not PIN) but money is deducted directly from your bank account. Has both bank and credit company logo on it.

There may be ATM only cards here as well, but I have no knowledge of them.

If you would prefer to have purchases come directly out of your account instead of on your credit card outside of Canada, your best bet is to get a cheque card. I don't know if there offered by all banks/credit unions. I have one from my credit union.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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My Dutch debit card can be used throughout the world - I have indeed used it in the US to pay for things in shops. It has a chip but also a magnetic swipe. (The chip is used as an electronic purse here in Holland to pay for small sums of money, car parking and the like, instaed of carrying stacks of coins around.) I use my pin code, the same as I do at home. It has a Maestro symbol on it. The reason you cannot get cashback by a transaction is because it is up to the retailer whether they allow that or not. Most don't.
My Visa credit card is still a swipe card, but when it is renewed later this year it will have a chip on it.
As far as I can find out any debit card with a Maestro symbol will work pretty much anywhere. (Some unmanned petrol stations excepted).
Within the euro zone I pay nothing for using my debit card, outside the euro zone I pay 15 eurocents to pay for things and a whopping €2.25 at an ATM!~I can withdraw €500 a day from an ATM whilst abroad, and pay in shops for a further €500 a day.
hetismij is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 01:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 222
I live in Paris and have an American Visa debit card, which I use in ATMs and in grocery stores, hardware stores, etc. You do have to sign a slip, and they will sometimes require you to show identification.

Most of the credit card machines (at the checkout of grocery store, for example) here in Paris have two slots. One is for the European style card with a chip. They stick it in the bottom of the machine. Then there is also a slide area on either the top or the side of the machine. Sometimes the cashier will look at you funny when they notice the card doesn't have a chip. You may have to point to the area to slide the card, or do it yourself.

In any case, we've had no problems using our cards here in the last 14 months, or on vacations here in the past.

Enjoy your trip!
Lutece is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 08:01 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 49,415
my husband signed up with Bank of America and opened a small account to cover our travel expenses. When you have a B of A card you can do debit/ATM

WITHOUT ANY FEES OR PROBLEMS. BofA "partner" bank is Barclays in England, BNP in France, etc. It is like you have an account at those European banks and you will have no problems and like I said no bank fees. We only use the BofA card for this purpose as we prefer to use other banks for our home purposes.
nanabee is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,000

I used my Union Bank of California debit card for purchases in Holland, Germany, Sweden, and Czech Republic last year. The bank added a fee of 1% to 2% and showed it as a separate line item on my statement. I figure that's reasonable.
hopscotch is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 400
Well, bank of America won't help the OP since they are Canadian.
Photobear is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 06:43 AM
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I just wanted to add that my TD Canada Trust Access Card (debit card) works in the US. I am asked to key in my pin number. I go cross border shopping in Buffalo, New York every year and have never had a problem.

I'll be in France this summer too and am interested in whether or not our cards will work there. In Italy I used my debit card to withdraw money from bank machines with the 'plus' logo but paid by cash or credit card in stores.
italiangirl is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Every ATM in France will accept a 'Plus' card.
kerouac is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 08:20 AM
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Posts: 400
Italiangirl, that is so neat. Is it available at all stores or just some. I would love to not have to use credit cards or find a bank machine to take out cash. I tried to use it once at a store and they could not get it to work so i went to the bank next door and got cash from the ATM...Glad to hear that is changing.
Photobear is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 08:43 AM
Join Date: May 2007
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I agree that 1-2% seems fair, but if you have a total of several thousand dollars over the course of your trip (lodging, food, entertainment, gifts, etc.) you could be giving the bank an extra couple of hundred dollars in fees. We were able to eliminate that problem with the B of A recripicole bank arrangment.
Although it is moot, as P.Bear mentioned that they can't open a BofA account in Canada.
nanabee is online now  

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