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Credit Card Troubles to Come for U.S. Travelers

Credit Card Troubles to Come for U.S. Travelers

Aug 9th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Credit Card Troubles to Come for U.S. Travelers

Fodor rules prohibit my copying an article from the September 2007 issue of National Geographic Traveler, but I'll try to summarize:

As some may have heard, banks outside the U.S. are issuing smart credit cards which have embedded chips containing account information. Some countries (U.K. for one) have fully implemented the smart card system. U.S.-issued credit cards don't work on these new systems.

However, global card networks (Visa, MasterCard, Amex) require merchants to accept all cards, even those without the embedded chip. If a cashier, waiter or clerk doesn't want to accept your card, ask for the manager. They should still be able to swipe the card to retrieve account info off the magnetic strip.

Automatic machines, unfortunately, can't defer to the manager for help. So, parking meters, train ticket vending machines and self-service gas stations will be a problem.

The article states that "ATMs should still work without a hitch," but just a few sentences earlier says that "only PINs issued by banks in the local country will work." I would definitely ask your card issuer about this point (and while you're at it ask them why they don't issue smart cards).

So, what's an American tourist to do?

The article suggests considering a prepaid debit card which has chip-and-PIN (not all include the chip). If you decide to use your existing card, a few common sense recommendations: Carry coins and local currency for automatic machines. If driving, don't let gas gauge get too low since the only station nearby might not take your card (or cash for that matter). Be prepared with cash if a merchant or restaurant just can't figure out how to run a charge through your card. And, although not mentioned in the article, remember that this situation is not the fault of the merchant or restaurant in the foreign country.
Jean is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 09:10 PM
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much of this info was also mis-intrepreted in an AARP publication.

US issued cc's work every where except for a few unmanned situations such as petrol stations when there is no attendant.

ATM cards work perfectly well.

Pre-paid debit cards (such as the Amex and Visa travel money cards) are terrible ideas since they have extremely high fees.

that article is poorly researched and plain wrong in some of its assertions . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 9th, 2007, 09:30 PM
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Although I haven't read the AARP article, I think both articles were attempting to alert U.S. travelers that they may increasingly encounter problems in the future with non-chip cards.

The ATM stuff was definitely unclear in the NGT article, but NGT did advise that people do research about debit card fees.

I think the goal of informing U.S. travelers of potential trouble ahead is legitimate. If a person isn't aware of this difference between our cards and those of the rest of the world, he/she might end up in a situation they don't understand and can't navigate through. Better informed than not.
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Aug 9th, 2007, 09:34 PM
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"Better informed than not. "

Absolutely - but only if the information is accurate
janisj is online now  
Aug 9th, 2007, 09:36 PM
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Jean,

If we all report no problems using CC cards or ATM cards, why should we worry about the future potentiality of the problem now? The whole point of a site like this one is that it gives up-to-date information.
Michael is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 09:44 PM
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There is another thread going on the AARP article on the same subject.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35047362
susnobie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2007, 09:47 PM
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Living in the UK I have no problem using a mixture of cards some of which are chip and pin, some of which (AMex gold) which are not.

The biggest warning I can give to US travellers is that Amex is not nearly accepted as widely as VISA or Mastercard particularly in smaller outlets icluding some pubs and restaurants.
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Aug 9th, 2007, 10:03 PM
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It seems odd that the same - wrong - information comes out twice within a short period of time.

I wonder if the Ministry of Fear - sorry Department of Homeland Security - is briefing journo's to discourage Americans from going abroad?
alanRow is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 12:06 AM
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"I wonder if the Ministry of Fear - sorry Department of Homeland Security - is briefing journo's to discourage Americans from going abroad?"


Uhhh..what was that about "accurate information?"
Dukey is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 12:47 AM
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I don't have access to either the NatGeo or the AARP articles. Are they on-line or only in print?

The chip card was recently discussed on Fodor's at http://tinyurl.com/3acjga.

It is my understanding that the chip and PIN work outside the CC system. The merchant gets an immediate deposit from your account which is immediately debited. It's just like an ATM except that you are paying for goods and not receiving cash.

If that statement is correct, A/M/V are not involved in the purchase process and do not make any money.

Could that be why all banks are pushing us to convert our ATM cards to debit cards, branded M or V? Merchants pay the same percentage fee to M and V whether you use a debit or credit card. And merchants accept my debit cards as either credit cards or debit cards. In other words you can either sign the receipt as in credit card or use your PIN as in debit card.

You can only use a PIN, not a signature, with a chip card. Therefore the risk of fraud is virtually zero.

There is no M or V fee with a chip and PIN. Ergo, M and V will do whatever they can to protect their profits and block chip and PIN cards from being issued in the USA.

hopscotch is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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hopscotch, it doesn't occur to most folk outside the US that ATM and debit cards are different things - then again we don't have debit cards linked to savings and cheque accounts.

As for use of a PIN reducing fraud - very funny. All it does it move the fraud to places where PINs aren't needed (eg mail order / internet) and increase the use of attachments to card readers to read your PIN as you type it in
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Aug 10th, 2007, 03:41 AM
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>It seems odd that the same - wrong - information comes out twice within a short period of time.<

Not at all. People surf the web to write their articles and steal from each other all time.

ira is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 03:44 AM
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ira
 
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>It is my understanding that the chip and PIN work outside the CC system.

That is a debit card.

A credit card can also be C&P.

>You can only use a PIN, not a signature, with a chip card. Therefore the risk of fraud is virtually zero.

Unless the thief has your PIN



ira is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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...people surf the web to write their articles and steal from each other all the time..

Too bad they rarely go to a travel site like this one where the info is up-to-date.
Fidel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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Not everyone is reporting "no problems." In the other thread, someone with a Capital One card reported repeated problems. Perhaps the problems are only now emerging, and historical anecdotes are just that. Historical.
Jean is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Jean,

The reports are not historical. They are current. In the other posting I and others reported no problems in our travels this spring and summer. The National Geographic article was probably printed before some of the reported experience.
Michael is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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German credit cards don't have chips.
logos999 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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but logos my friend...

they're coming. Your friendly bureaucrats in Brussels, now that they've done something (not enough of course) about high roaming fees on mobile phones, are cooking up a scheme to standardize and require chip and pin cards throughout the eu. Just wait and see, you'll get them too; while we in the third world USA will not see them for a long long time! (unless of course the eu puts through a regulation requiring the use of chip and pin cards for all credit card transactions..it will be interesting to see how the USA credit card industry would react to that).
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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In the US, they took my credit card and swiped it, no signature, no ID check-nothing. I thought that was pretty scarey. Is that usual now?
Odin is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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odin...

In many of the fast food restaurants, they got special permission from the cc companies not to reqjuire signatures the feeling being the amount being charged at McDonald's would not really create a big fraud problem....

Petrol stations in the USA at self service stations have terminals that don't require signatures either although as noted many require a US zip code but for the most part you can always go in and see the attendant to complete the transaction (in many places in the USA, obviously not the big cities, self service means just that, you fill up and then pay but you wouldn't want to run a gas station in New York City doing that)....in 99% of cases in the USA today the clerks don't bother to check signatures..in many groceries, drug stores, convenience stores, you swipe the card through a terminal in front of you and the card never leaves your possession...you then sign the receipt and go!
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