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Credit Cards - Is VISA as accepted as Master Card?

Credit Cards - Is VISA as accepted as Master Card?

Jul 12th, 2005, 04:24 AM
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Credit Cards - Is VISA as accepted as Master Card?

Daughter will be in Findland and Sweden soon. She has a VISA card, but not MC. Should she get MC, too? She has an ATM card through her bank, part of the Cirrus network.
MIWinnie is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 04:33 AM
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Both cards are widely accepted, with Visa is probably accepted a little more, but it wouldn't hurt to have both!
HowardR is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 04:48 AM
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A curious note: in one experience, the word "visa" was used generically to refer to any major credit card.

My brother-in-law had the experience of asking whether Master Card was accepted, and being told, "No, Visa." He didn't have a Visa card with him. But as he was going through his cards to be sure, the merchant saw his Master Card go by, and pointed to it, and said, "Yes! Visa!"

I'm afraid I've forgotten which country he was in at the time.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 04:59 AM
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My own view of the situation is this:
Even in the US I carry a backup credit card for several reasons.

First, an individual card may fail to work for any number of reasons. Second, one brand or another might not be accepted when I want to use it.

Only twice have I had a problem with my primary card not working. Once was in the US, and once was in France. In the US incident, my wife had mistakenly used the credit card in an ATM and, realizing her mistake, aborted the transaction. The bank blocked the account and we did not find out about it until 4 days later. (No notification sent.)

The other incident was in a small Paris restaurant. The waiter said the card was "no good" and was very agitated about the situation. Had I not had a backup, the whole thing might have gotten more agitated because neither of us spoke the other's language. It was not a Visa problem because my backup card was also Visa at that time and it worked.

Subsequently to that little incident I used both cards elsewhere with no problems at all. So I never knew why the first card was not accepted.

I suppose it is a question of personal preference, but in those two instances, having a backup readily available made a big difference. Therefore, I carry a backup card.
brookwood is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 05:10 AM
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Neither VISA nor MC will work in Findland.
kswl is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 05:19 AM
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If they won't work in Findland, will they work in Lostland?
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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My partner carries Visa. I carry Master Card. Several times over the years, places in Europe have refused to take my Master Card, but gladly took his Visa. No one has ever refused his Visa but willing to take a Master Card.
Also worth noting is that a very nice restaurant in Stockholm refused both our cards and said they would ONLY take American Express. That was UNUSUAL to say the least.
Patrick is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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There's another obvious reason to carry two cards, if you're traveling as a couple: backup in case of theft.

I carry one card, and my wife carries the other. Then if, for instance, my wallet were to be stolen, I could immediately cancel my card, and we would still have the other card available for use. This has never happened to us, but it seems like a reasonable precaution.

A friend recently traveled to Spain, and before she left, I advised her to be sure to record the numbers of her credit cards, and to have with her the phone numbers you need to call to report theft of the card. She took my advice, and then her purse was stolen on her first day in Spain. She immediately canceled all the cards, and the trip went on without further disruption.

Of course, carrying a list of your credit card numbers is in itself risky - the list could be stolen. I encrypt the list; nothing heavy duty - just a simple code.

This may all sound a bit paranoid. But it's a lot easier to deal with a stolen card at home. I think it's worth planning ahead for an incident, take reasonable precautions, and then don't worry about it.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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Larry, in the interest of taking proper precautions when we go, how did it happen that your friend got her purse stolen in Spain? I'm sorry that happened - I hope they didn't get her passport!
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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I don't know any details. I'll ask her about it.

My sister, in an entirely separate incident, had a wallet stolen in France, on her last day before returning home. She was INSIDE a restaurant, but one that opened to the street. In a classic ruse, a woman came in with a baby, and passed alongside. While my sister was distracted by the baby, her wallet was lifted out of her bag, which was on the floor alongside her chair.

Her passport was not taken, which was fortunate, because she was leaving the next day. It used to be that the State Department looked upon passports as primarily a service provided to US citizens to allow them to travel freely. It was pretty easy to replace a lost passport in one day. Now since 9/11, I suspect it's much harder.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 12th, 2005, 02:45 PM
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A good reminder from Larry, do not leave your pocketbook on the floor of restaurants or hanging over the back of a chair.
suze is offline  
Jul 13th, 2005, 04:45 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for the information and for sharing your own experiences. Larry, Ive passed along your suggestion about encrypting credit cards numbers to my daughter. We thought it was a great idea. I plan to use it on future trips, too.

On two separate trips to Europe several years ago, we saw a few incidents. In Rome near the Coliseum, we saw gypsy children take a man's wallet. He was quick, though, and grabbed the child's hand. I never found out whether the police were called. On the same trip, gypsy children "targeted" my MIL. The kids were standing off to the side of a walkway near the Coliseum and came up on her from the rear. MIL had her purse hung loosely over her arm and was not paying attention. I saw the kids approaching her and yelled at them. They all took off running.

In Nice, DH and I were dining on the patio of a very nice restaurant. The wife of the couple next to us left her purse on the floor next to her. The thief reached through the hedges separating the restaurant from the public sidewalk and took her purse - money, credit card and passports. She kept saying over and over, "At least it was my CitiBank VISA, as if that made a difference. (CitiBank had a TV ad that summer about lost credit cards.) Her husband, on the other hand, was beside himself over the loss of their passports.

Generally, I do not carry a purse when I travel. I use a safety pouch - the kind that goes around your neck for my credit card and passport. I carry a small amount of cash in a secure accessible pocket. I try to discourage potential thieves by making it difficult to get my valuables.
MIWinnie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 07:16 AM
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I've finally been able to get more information on the theft of my friend's wallet in Spain. I'll pass it on now, since I was asked for more details.

I erred in saying her purse was stolen. Rather, her wallet was stolen out of her purse. This was in Seville. She's not sure exactly when it happened, but thinks it happened at the table of an outdoor restaurant. Her purse was in a nearby chair, and she was distracted getting instructions from someone about how to use her digital camera. As usual, there were a few people wandering around the tables begging, so one of them might have been responsible.

Prior to sitting down at the restaurant, she was wandering around a market area, so it's possible the wallet was lifted then. She didn't notice the theft until she went to pay at the restaurant. Her passport was not taken.

When I travel, I'm usually carrying around $900 worth of electronics in a "fanny pack" ($400 PDA, $400 digital camera, $100 telephone). But I'm pretty careful with it, and have never had any problems. I wear the "fanny pack" in front, not in back. It's from the TravelSmith catelog, and has a cut-resistant steel cable in the strap. The compartments zipper shut, and the zipper slides are held in position by a clip. All critical data in the PDA (such as account numbers) are encrypted.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 03:44 AM
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Larry, it's unfortunate that your friend was robbed of her wallet; at least the thieves were "considerate" enough not to take her passport. Thanks for sharing your friend's story. Did you notice the common theme in these incidents? Each person was inattentive or distracted.
MIWinnie is offline  
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