Jun 11th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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How prevailing really is this problem?
I do see Europeans having trouble with their bank cards in the US though.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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The problem is really restricted to unmanned kiosks in train stations, gas stations, or toll booths. I travel to various countries in Europe 2-3 times a year and have never encountered a problem using my credit card anywhere a real person can swipe the card. It doesn't mean there aren't waiters or clerks that can't figure out how to swipe a card, but I've not encountered that level of incompetence yet in my travels, thankfully.

Having access to cash is always a good backup. The article mentions having to trek back to the hotel to get cash then exchange currency, which is a really stupid idea. I'm sure there was an ATM machine right near at the train station he could have used in the blink of an eye to get cash.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Also read that article and thought that either the author was incredibly uninformed or it was a very thinly veiled promotional piece for the preloaded debit cards. It is misleading in that the train station scenario depicted in the article is clearly about using a kiosk/vending machine, which is not the only option as there are also human beings staffing the traditional windows.
While I do wish US banks would adopt the chip and pin format, other than unattended kiosks I have never had a single problem using a card with a mag stripe. The clerk either swipes or manually enters the digits.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 10:58 AM
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I am in europe several times a year- granted mostly business - but still need an sopoending money/buying things constantly. I have NEVER had a problem using my US credit cards in any hotel, restaurant, shop or tourist sight.

I can understand this might be an issue in a gas station or toll both - a good reason always to carry some amount of cash in the local currency with you. I typically pull about $300 from ATMs and when it gets down to about $100 pull another $300.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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Sorry - as for going back to a hotel to get US$ to change at a Bureau de change - that;s simply ridiculous. There is an ATM on practically any corner from which you can easily pull cash with your debit card.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 11:01 AM
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No problem at all. My credit US card worked just fine, and for cash used a debit to my account in ATM machine.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 11:02 AM
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I'd read that article and thought this person did not do their homework. We travel to Europe twice a year for 3 week s to a month each year and charge everything. I go to a ticket window at train, metro or tube stations and since we no longer rent a car don't have toll or gas problems.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 11:14 AM
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We have always found it useful to use a cc for tolls, and had no problems in France last fall. I think we'll be prepared with enough cash for our long drives where we may use the Autostrada in Italy this year, but we're also considering opening an account with a local credit union that promotes their use of chip & pin cards before we leave.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 11:25 AM
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Even in the NY Times, I've found that major publications often have goofy travel articles like this one. It's amazing to me how many freelance travel writers there are around who get paid for stuff like that.

But that article claims (who knows if it is true) that the original anecdote was a guy who couldn't use his CC after waiting in line to by train tickets and doesn't say where -- I guess it could well be that he was waiting at an automated machine, I immediately thought of a ticket window just because I've never waited in lines that long for a ticket machine in a train station. I guess you could, though.

But I was curious where the OP (Pomah) is observing Europeans having trouble using their CCs in the US? Why are they having trouble and where are you that you are observing Europeans a lot using CCs? I live in Wash DC where we have more international visitors than most cities (and I actually know an international community more than many people, so I'm around foreigners visiting here), and yet I rarely am standing around observing them using their CCs to notice problems.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Who writes this BS, anyway? More to the point, how does someone so ill-informed get published by the NYT?
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Jun 11th, 2011, 04:05 PM
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We only had some random issues with our CC... In Frankfurt, in more than one place I was asked for my PIN number, which, of course, I don't have, but they accepted my payment.

The other issues we had which was more common, was driving thru southern France's toll roads, when those automatic machines repeatedly would not accept my Visa, nor my MasterCard, but accepted ONLY AMEX (which luckily enough I carried with me too)...

In one restaurant in Provence the waitress kept telling me my CC are all denied, all 5 of them that she tried to swipe... But I suspect they simply wanted our cash...

That's why it's always smart to carry SEVERAL cards, of different kinds...
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Jun 11th, 2011, 04:08 PM
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I agree with the criticisms of the article, but after reading the 90+ comments after the article, some themes emerge from peoples' reported experiences:

1) There were quite a few people who had problems using the Travelex chip and pin stored money cards.

2) More than a few people reported problems with American magnetic strip cards while trying to make purchases in places other than unattended ticket machines, etc. (On my last visit to Paris, a Franprix grocery store in the 4th refused to take my Visa, saying they didn't accept magnetic strip cards. That was the only incident we encountered.)

3) Many people reported problems with authorization even though they had notified the CC issuer of their travel plans.

4) Some Europeans reported difficulties using their cards in automated machines (NY subway ticket machines, gasoline pumps) that require a zip code to be entered before completing the transaction.

Wouldn't you think that in this day and age that these problems could be solved. Why can't US CC issuers give us a card with chip and pin AND a magnetic strip that could be used everywhere?
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Jun 11th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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"For backup, also consider carrying a preloaded debit MasterCard from Travelex" - this is where I stopped reading, sorry!

But then, I don't make large purchases that I wouldn't be able to cover with cash. Never had a problem with ATM cards, of course I call in advance to make sure which card will work in which country.

But I never had a problem with my MasterCard also! Except in some small places it was cash only, so what?
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Jun 12th, 2011, 06:54 AM
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It is the unmanned machines that caused the problem for us-never places with people. Hub and I first experienced it at the ticket machines in train stations in France. Some of the ticket lines for a person kept us from just grabbing a ticket and hopping on a train.

Not mentioned in the NYT article is the American Express card we got with what we were assured has chip tech (supposedly-hub got ill so we didn't get to try it out).

uhoh_busted, where are you located? I'd sign up.

Except for the debit card the author mentioned (I just didn't know about it), my initial response to the article was "Finally!"
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Jun 12th, 2011, 07:18 AM
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I DON"T travel to Europe several times a year or decade for that matter. However, I did my homework and knew well before I left for our trip this spring to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Paris what I had to do for seamless use of my cards.

I planned ahead and opened Capital One accounts for banking[to get ATM card] and credit card. In fact, I opened one for myself and a separate one for DH. I also took my AMEX card just in case.

I notified them where and when we would be traveling, got 4 digit PINs for the credit cards and had some US dollars for when we returned home.

We used are credit cards for almost all purchases and got cash from ATMs for smaller purchases. I wasn't going to us the credit card for incidentals, but I did see everyone doing so and figured why not?

The issue of having to much cash in foreign currency at the end of each stay in Sweden, Denmark and Norway was solved by using what ever cash we had for our last meal and putting the balance on the credit card. It was hard having 3 different currencies with similar names and just slightly different exchange rates, but it all worked out fine.

FWIW - We stayed in the 4th in Paris, and had no problem using our credit card at Franprix.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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Christina, Maine GG explains where Europeans can't use ccs. It's almost the reverse of the US problem with automated machines. Any gas station near a Canadian border can illustrate the problem: you have to have an American zip code to use the machines.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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Cristina , why do you say even in the NYT.....I believe times have changed and not only regarding travel articules, sadly,

I used to love the Times while living in NY, now I lost faith in it.....I cancelled my suscription , frankly I do not trust it anylonger. Sad.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 07:42 AM
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>>>The problem is really restricted to unmanned kiosks in train stations<<<

The kiosks in Rome accept US credit cards.

You might have a few random problems, but I never have.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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>>>The problem is really restricted to unmanned kiosks in train stations<<<

√and the auto bicycle rentals and unmanned gas stations.

We had no troubles in Italy in 2008 but the next year had woes in France in 2009 for the first time. What year were you there, kybourbon?

Again, the unmanned machines were the problem for us.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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DebitNM - The Franprix store where my Visa card was refused is located at 16 rue de la Cerisaie. When this happened, the cashier summoned the store manager who was apologetic, but reasserted that they would not accept a card without the chip.

Again, even though the article was flawed in many respects, it was pretty stunning to see over 90 comments from all over the world, many of which reported difficulties with CC use even after making careful preparation prior to travel to avoid problems. The CC issuers need to do more to make international usage seamless.
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