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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 3rd, 2007, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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The way I "debit" when in France is that I prepay on my VISA card; that is, I go in and pay $2000. (or whatever amount I think I'll need) then when I use my card it comes off automatically because my account has a debit amount on it. I've done this for travel in France as well as the Caribbean. Our bank tells me that our banking debit card is supposed to be able to be used in Europe as well as long as there is an Interac sign (which can vary by country). I like prepaying because I hate those horrendous bills when I get home; stuff is already paid for. I keep envelopes with me...one for purchases and one for hotel, restaurant charges... and put my bills in and record what each is for and the amount. That way I know how much I have left on my prepaid amount.
baker is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Is it still worth it to do that if the CC company still charges the % (is it usually 1-2%) for their fee? I guess credit card points will make up for that.

Photobear is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 04:28 AM
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Interesting stuff!
I will be very interested in the reports back from those Canadians who are travelling this summer, and how they are able to 'debit'.
The other 'tool' is on-line banking (which I know not everyone is comfortable). I will be curious which gets a better exchange/service charge rate - cash from the ATM, or a credit card purchase (taking the in store debit out of the equation for similicity). We don't tend to 'carry' a credit card balance, and use them only when it is the most convenient way, and use on-line banking to 'pay of the credit card' right way.
Canada_V is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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Canada - As far as exchange rate - CC or ATM from a Canadian bank, trust company are identical. It is 2.5% above the prevailing rate at the time of transaction. What you pay for the ATM fee (the fee for using an ATM in Europe) will vary depending on your bank package. I have 0 fee with RBC VIP service at Plus or Sirrus locations. There is another thread about this.
Our American friends don't have this collusion among banks and can get 0% above bank rate with certain credit cards.
robjame is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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thanks to all - a related question (which I'll research, but I imagine someone who is popping into this thread has already researched and knows On a given day, will I get a better exchange rate buying Euros at a Canadian bank, or getting them out of an ATM machine in Paris (or does that depend on my individual bank's charges?)
Canada_V is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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It does depend on your bank, but I would be amazed if the answer weren't using an ATM in France.

This thread was confusing because because were talking about debit cards working/not working and then only referring to ATMs (where I think they always work). And then some folks say they used their debit cards in Europe for purchases, but without PINs and signing, in which case, it really wasn't a debit card but operating as a credit card.

That's the problem with debit cards (or asset, I guess, but is confusing when you talk about them) -- they can function as three different types of cards---ATM, debit for purchases, and also a regular credit card.

I'm not surprised a clerk at WDW wouldn't take a debit card that did not have a MC or Visa logo and looked just like a bank ATM card.
Christina is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Christina: In Canada, a debit card is just your bank ATM card with no credit card logo. Maybe it's different in other countries and part of the confusion.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Christina's clarification confuses me!

I'm in Ireland, and I have two types of card.
- One is a credit card, and I think we have general agreement on what that is.
- The second is sometimes referred to here as a bank card (more often it is referred to by a generic name adopted by a particular bank -- mine being a PASS card). I can use it to operate ATMs or to make payments in retail outlets using chip-and-pin. In either case, it debits my bank current account and does not connect to my credit card account, which is entirely separate. I have used that card in France with no difficulty.

Is this setup the same as in North America (US and Canada)?
Padraig is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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In the U.S. you have your regular credit card. When you make a purchase, it goes through the system (Mastercard, Visa, Amex, etc.) and the purchase amount is added to your cc balance to be paid off at the end of the month.

Then you have a "straight ATM" card - it can only be used at actual ATM machines, does not have a cc logo on it, and is usually issued to access a savings account when there isn't a checking account at the same bank. Unless it's attached to a checking account, it cannot be used at stores with ATM pinpads. Straight ATM cards aren't that common anymore - the majority of banks and credit unions use debit cards.

Then you have a "debit card" - it does have the cc logo on it, you can use it at ATM machines, at participating stores using your pin, and at stores using the credit card process.

The Star, Cirrus, etc. represent the systems that the store and/or bank ATM computers use to communicate with the issuing bank. The symbols of these systems are on the back of your card so you will know if the card will work at that machine, etc. Most store computers in the US are connected to all of the systems commonly used. This process is practically instantaneous as it connects you directly to your bank account - if you check your balance upon leaving the store it will have already deducted the money.

If the store does not have ATM pinpad ability (is not connected to the above systems), you can use the debit card just like a credit card, processing it the same way and signing the receipt. Then when the charge is processed through the credit card system (MC, Amex, Visa, etc.), it will be sent to the issuing bank who will deduct the money from the account (rather than add it to a balance that you pay off later). This can take several days as the charge winds it's way through the cc system.

Note, the debit card is not connected to your credit card, instead, it simply uses the credit card system to process the purchase.

I hope that makes sense...
toedtoes is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Who'd a thunk I'd learn so much about personal banking from a travel site!
SO... I think it boils down to whether or not the network my debit card (aka bank card aka ATM card NOT aka my credit card is on talks to the network the French vendors credit card is on. In Canada I use my debit card (aka aka aka) exclusively with a pin (never a signature, and it doesn't have a chip). So my guess would be that I WONT'T be able to use my debit card at retailers in France (Padraig, I would imagine that there is some sort of European Union connectivity and/or consistency with the banking network that facilitates your Irish card working in France), though I will have not problem getting cash from an ATM with the same card...
Thanks again for the interest and input!
Canada_V is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 01:18 PM
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I haven't read everything on this since yesterday, but your & Christina's post show this has to be said again: Canadian & US banking systems are not identical.
Canadian debit cards do not necessarily have a cc logo.
Whether Canadian debit cards can be used for anything other than ATMs in Europe...we'll see!
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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Okay, I'm getting there. A bank or debit card never operates as a credit card. It may use some of the processing systems, but that is background stuff. Use the card, and it is your bank current account that covers the transaction. Just because cars and trucks might use the same piece of road, it does not follow that a car is a truck.

My bank card does not have any credit card logo on it. It has Maestro and Cirrus logos. These are, I believe, associated with Mastercard -- but they are not Mastercard logos. Does anybody's bank card or debit card have a credit card logo?

nfldbeothuk, give me some credit. While I mentioned North America, I also specified the US and Canada just because there might be two separate answers (at least!). One thing I know about Canadians: they do not like to be regarded as being the same as Americans -- even though, geographically, they are Americans.
Padraig is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 03:03 PM
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In Canada, the "debit card" system for Point of Sale (speaking of this independently of ATM's) is run on the Interac network. In the US, the network is run through quite a few regional networks, although these are all (for the most part) linked through agreements to accept each other's cards. A Canadian debit card can work at a US point of sale system due to these agreements.

In Europe, the POS system is run through either the Visa or Mastercard network and is not linked to the Canadian Interac or US regional networks. If your Canadian debit card has a Maestro (mastercard) or Visa logo, it *should* work at a French POS. My debit card, on the other hand, does NOT have a Maestro or Visa logo and therefore will not work at POS's (it does, however, have the "Plus" logo, so it will work in european ATMs with that logo).
BikerScott is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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Just to add to the confusion:
1. As a Canadian I have never been able to use my Canadian bank card (debit card) in stores in Europe
2. ATM withdrawals, credit card purchases and bank currency exchange (going into a Canadian bank and buying Euros) seem to be all pegged at an identical 2.5% above the exchange rate
3. ATM withdrawals will trigger an additional ATM fee (=/- $3) depending on your plan (agreement) with your particular bank - my RBC VIP plan gives me free ATM withdrawals
4. RBC Visa gives me a chipped Visa CC which has worked for me in unattended situations in France (gas bars)
5. The only way I have found to beat the 2.5% currency fee is by buying free (with my RBC VIP plan)travelers cheques which for some reason gives me a preferential 1.5 currency conversion rate, BUT now you have the problem of cashing the TC. I only mention this as a possibility if, for some reason, you had to transfer a large amount of money to a someone who would cash them.

I have found that by raising the daily limit I can withdraw $800 cdn equivalent from an ATM.
BTW alert Visa (MC) and bvank before your trip. They will give you phone numbers for emergency plus theis should make them aware of unusual activity on your cards.

So I get some € from the bank before I go. I use my bank card to withdraw € and my CC to buy things and the exchange rate is the same(2.5%).
However if you buy something with Visa and then return it the amount credited to your cc will be 5% less (2.5% each side of the real exchange rate = 5%)
Now you should be really confused.
robjame is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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To contribute to confusion (I've enjoyed this thread!) although I stick with the credit and debit cards are different, it is possible to add "debit card" functionality to your credit card!
And Padraig - my read was that you were being sensitive to the "Canada is not the US" dimension, and I didn't feel that you had 'lumped us together' when you refered to North America (US and Canada!) Thanks again to everyone who is participating!!
Canada_V is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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I thought Padraig was European, not Canadian.

Ok, in the US, ALL debit cards have Mastercard or Visa logos on them that I know of. At least I've never seen one that didn't. That's the main difference in a debit card and an ATM card. I know for a fact my bank's debit card has a VISA logo on the front (they call it a "check card"). ATM cards do not have a VISA or MC logo on the front (I know because I have one and all it says is "ATM Card" on the front).

As to whether a debit card can function as a credit card, I'll step back from that one -- I thought my bank told me theirs did, but since I rejected it as I didn't want a debit card, I'm not sure and perhaps I was wrong in saying that. But I thought others were saying that, also, maybe not.

I do know none of my credit cards can have "Debit card" capabilities. These are two different things in the US. I have never heard of a credit card that functions as a debit card, although maybe someone has one. My bank has a credit card, and you definitely cannot make it function as a debit card. Obviously, in order to do that, you'd have to have the CC from the bank where you had your checking account.

Are you by any chance calling a credit card a debit card just because you can stick it in an ATM and get out cash? Because that isn't a debit card (which means it's taken out of your checking account directly, not charged on a bill as a loan that you must pay off by the end of the billing period). Maybe you have different types of credit cards in Canada, also, but I"ve never heard of that in the US.
Christina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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OK Christina - Now I'm really going to mess you up...
In Canada we are issued a card from our banks and the actual name of it is a Client Card.
This Client card has the name of the bank on it (Royal, Toronto Dominion, Montreal, etc) as well as the ATM servers that it is programmed to work with for sure(usually for free). On mine it has Plus and Interac.
Now this Client card accesses our accounts with the bank be it chequing, saving, credit line, etc. So this Client card is used to withdraw money from an ATM as well as to pay for items in a store by debit to one of our accounts (debit).
Sometimes we generically call these debit machines Interac machines.
This Client Card cannot be used for credit (card) purchases and never (in my experience) has a Visa or MC logo on it.
Our credit cards - Visa, Master Card or Am Ex or Discovery function as yours do in the States and may or may not be issued by our home bank. Lately even the grocary stores have gotten into the banking game - our Loblaws stores has a PC (President's Choice) financial institution with cards, etc.
Clear as mud?
robjame is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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I explained the differences in Canada between debit, credit and cheque (Canadian spelling) cards above.

However after re-reading, I noticed that I forgot to mention that all purchases, ATM transactions on a debit card affect your bank account directly.

This could be a chequing or savings acount, our swipe machines make you choose one. If you only have one type of account, the bank can set up your card to access it via either the chequing or savings account button on the keypad. This applies to both swipe and ATM machines.

I think what you refer to as a debit card in the States, Canadians would only refer to as a cheque card as you state "they" call it. Not sure who "they" are in your context.

Padraig stated earlier he's in Ireland.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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What I meant by the credit card acting as a debit card is that the bank is the front end to both the credit and debit services that I get (I have a TD bank account and a TD Visa card). The bank can program access to my debit services onto the physical piece of plastic that is my credit card, so that when I put it into the ATM, I have the choice of using my debit services (take cash out) instead of my credit services.
Did you know... the US has over 8000 active financial institutions, while Canada has essentially 6. (The US has approx 10x the population). Interesting stuff? (or at the very least trivia you can use at your next dinner party!)
Canada_V is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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"Did you know... the US has over 8000 active financial institutions, while Canada has essentially 6."

We definitely noticed this on our California/Oregon coast trip in May - every town we drove through had a "Bank of Larry" or "Big Tree Bank"...you *never* see independent banks in Canada (okay - there are independent credit unions around...but not banks)
BikerScott is offline  

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