Chip and Pin Credit Cards in Europe

Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Chip and Pin Credit Cards in Europe

I've been hearing stories of folks having difficulty using USA style signature credit cards abroad now that Europe has switched to the Chip and Pin type. I understand that it can be difficult to use them at petrol stations and in other credit card payment devices. Will be heading for EUR this summer and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has had trouble using their US credit card recently or is it simple enough to ask to have your charge manually entered in their charge devise?
Thanks for your advise.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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You are correct that self-serve machines that look for the C&P credit cards will not work well (at all) with cards that do not have that technology.

When the situation arises, I go the human route. On one of my recent trips I tried purchsing SNCF tickets from a machine, but ended up going to a manned booth. In restaurants and purchasing items at airport, my card worked fine when swipped by a salesperson.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:33 AM
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In Spain you need to show some form of id card (e.g. drivers licence, passport etc.) when paying with a card (credit or debit).
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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This comes up here from time to time...

Visa and mastercard have adamantly claimed that the technologically deficient USA magnetic strip cards remain 100% valid wherever mastercard and visa are accepted...most of the new terminals that were installed are dual mode..that is they can be inserted as a chip and pin card or have a place where the old fashioned cards can be swiped....as noted the only real problem are some self service machines in various places such as petrol stations in France that only take chip and pin but I have never had any difficulty as long as I have stuck to the usual tourist spots...

I have had a few nearly illiterate clerks off the beaten path a bit who when inserting the card have claimed it is not good since it does not have a chip but the manager has quickly come over and shown the clerk what to do.

It should not be a problem and I wouldn't worry....(but that begs the queston of why the USA is so technologically behind the times on this as well as some other things...also I have spoken to my state legislator to introduce legislation that will require dining establishments in my state to use the little portable terminals they now routinely bring to the tables throughout most of Europe when using a credit card to pay for a meal....one of the biggest places where credit card information is stolen and given to the vermin from Nigeria and Eastern Europe who run these identify theft rings are restaurants where when the bill comes and you hand the waiter your card and they disappear into a back room...I now insist that I be allowed to accompany the waiter when paying by credit card (some of them look at me like I'm crazy but like I said, the time has come for the government in the USA to act to require these portable terminals to protect consumers.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:40 AM
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I have probelms with my card in Ireland (not everywhere though). I use my cards all over Italy and have never, ever had a problem with my US cards (AmEx and Visa)
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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travel_buzzing...

We had a discussion on this here before too...that practice is absolutely prohibited by mastercard/visa operating rules...they have no right to ask for another form of identification when using a credit card according to mastercard international.

Now you may think this is a silly rule and that asking for another form of id is to protect you but quite frankly, it actually exposes you to a greater threat to your identity. How you ask...identify thieves operate on the basis of obtaining information from their victims. Stealing a credit card number, while it can be a bit traumatic, is really something that doesn't usually cause a person that much of a problem...a call or two to the credit card issuer usually rectifies the problem; however if in addition to stealing your credit card number, they get your passport number, driver's license number or whatever, this can be used to unearth other information about you and lead to much greater problems.

I know that when I am asked for identification when using a credit card, I take out the mastercard rule on this and tell them they have no right to ask for identificaton; they are required to compare the signature and that's it.

I seem to be a minority of one on this here and have had others tell me that I'm wrong but that still doesn't alter the fact that the more information one of these identify theft rings can get about you, the greater the danger you are in...my passport number, my driver's license number is none of their business...the signature on the credit card protects the merchant.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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Hi P,

> I understand that it can be difficult to use [US CCs] at petrol stations and in other credit card payment devices.

Only on Sundays when the fuel stations are automatic self serve with no staff.

Ditto for other automatic machines.

It will be a rare occasion when a clerk won't accept your US card.

ATMs always work.

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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Thanks everyone - great advice. I'll plan ahead to be sure we're getting petrol at an attended station during the week. And xyz we'll be ever vigilant about giving out extra identity info. Travel safe all!
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 11:30 AM
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"...the signature on the credit card protects the merchant."

Actually, in the UK, and possibly in the rest of Europe, since chip and pun was introduced, the burden of fraud now falls on the merchant rather than the credit card company.

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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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It's worth noting that often the system can be overridden and you can still process payment with just a signature, rather than by entering a PIN. Check before handing your card over for payment, but I'm told (by both Waitrose and my local petrol station!) that it's fairly common for people to forget their PIN and have to pay like this.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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In Denmark, at least, proficiency in processing the swipe and sign is not universal. Most supermarket clerks, for instance, don't know how to do it. Definitely had to run to the ATM a couple of times, when I first moved.

At most better stores, though, if you just say "it doesn't have a PIN", the folks know what to do.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 07:17 AM
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xyz_123:
did you say that in spain?

it is the standard operating procedure here for any card transaction in a restaurant, shop whatever.
they will refuse to accept a card without a form of identification.

im not arguing whether its right or not to do this, but i think it is law here to protect people from just being able to use and sign with your card.

the employee doing the transaction has to validate your photo id with you, as being the name holder on the card.

this is a preventative procedure.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 07:38 AM
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I have had many waiters, salespeople, etc. make comments about my US credit card and ask me if it's Chip and Pin, but they are usually able to run it anyway. The only time I had a problem was in St. Ives, England where the clerk did not know how to process my card and no one else in the store did either. I had to leave and go to an ATM and come back with cash to pay for my purchase.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 08:18 AM
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Another option: There should be a phone number on the back of your credit card to call Visa or Mastercard from other countries if you need help with a merchant who doesn't either want to or know how to process your purchase.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 08:27 AM
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We spent 3 weeks in Germany and Austria in September-October. We NEVER had ONE problem using our good ole' USA Mastercard anywhere -- hotels, service stations, etc.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 08:56 AM
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I'm not 100% sure as I didn't really pay that much attention but I think, as of last August, Germany isn't using Chip and Pin yet.
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Old Feb 17th, 2010, 05:07 PM
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I want to help clarify the situation as I think it will help de-mystify the situation. All our US "magnetic" cards necessitate an "on-line, real-time" authorization before a charge is approved. This means there is a telecom conversation between the device your card was swiped in and the credit card processor.

Kiosks like ticket machines, toll payment machines, gas stations pumps, etc. in Europe do not have telecom access. This means the mag card can not be authenticated and the charge cannot be approved. It is possible to have this same problem with ATM in very remote locations - I had this happen in rural Romania. Plainly put the US cards will not work in these situations. If you see a kiosk chances are your card will not work.

The chip cards work because the pin is stored in chip and the card card be authenticated by the swipe device. (You enter your pin and the device checks with the card to be sure it is correct and then authorizes the transaction.) There is no need for an on-line authorization.

The human operated credit card readers just like the ones you use in the US are normally have telecom access which is why the mag cards work in "human attended" situations.

But this is not always foolproof. For example in France, in small restaurants that are not used to having lots of tourists, your wait-person might be very confused on how to deal with a mag card, be patiently persistent and it will usually work in the end.
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Old Feb 17th, 2010, 05:16 PM
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>Kiosks like ticket machines, toll payment machines, gas stations pumps, etc. in Europe do not have telecom access.

Nonsense, of course they are connected. (for decades!)
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