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Debit Card for Purchases?

Old Sep 18th, 2003, 05:00 PM
  #1  
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Debit Card for Purchases?

My husband & I traveled to France in summer of '01 and had no trouble using our debit card as an ATM card. We are now going to London in October. I'm not worried about using our debit card to get cash, but I wonder if we can also use it for purchases -- hotels, etc. which will eat up a lot of cash. All of our credit cards now charge a 3% "conversion fee" for charging in a foreign currency. Has anyone had any experience with using a debit card for purchases?
KathyM is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2003, 05:19 PM
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Does it have a Visa or Mastercard logo on front? It probably has both a Cirrus and a Plus logo on back.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 05:26 PM
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Depends on the bank but..

several months ago there was a rather lengthy thread regarding using a debit card. Credit card number theft is rampant in London and if the number of the debit card is stolen, your bank account can be wiped out in a short time turning any outstanding cheques to rubber.

You will eventually get your money back but it takes time.

I just don't understand the advantage of using a debit card as opposed to a credit card. With a debit card, the purchase is immediately debited from your chequing account...with a credit card you have a grace period. In addition, with a credit card you have a great deal more chance if something is defective of getting your money back.

Perhaps I am missing something as to why people prefer using debit cards to credit cards..the additional 2% surcharge on some credit cards is easily avoided by using a credit card from MBNA or Capital One solely for the foreign trips.

IMHO of course.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:18 PM
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I agree with xyz123. In all my years as a road warrior and now foreign travel I have never had a debit card. I use a credit card from Capital One for everything I can and use cash the rest of the time.
I understand you can get cash from an ATM with a debit card but I prefer to simply bring enough cash. I have never had a problem and YES I use a money belt.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:45 PM
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Here's another recommendation for getting a credit card without the pesky "conversion fee".

I've used a debit card successfully in Paris during several trips.

You MUST be careful with it, as pointed out above. You do not have the same rights of recovery as with a credit card. If lost or stolen, your balance can be quickly wiped out - without your PIN.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:56 PM
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Debit cards were introduced so that you wouldn't have to write cheques out. Money is taken straight from your bank account. A lot of people prefer them in day to day life because you only spend what you can afford and therefore never owe a credit card company.
There is a scam in the UK at the moment called the "Lebanese Loop" where gangs place plastic sleeves into the ATM. When you put your card in, the ATM cannot read the magnetic strip or chip. A "helpful" person comes along and tells you that they had the same problem and invite you to try again with your PIN (whilst they watch and remember it). The ATM does not give your card back because it is caught in the sleeve. The helper suggests you go into the bank and inform them right away that your card has been kept by the ATM. In the meantime, the helper pulls out the sleeve and your card comes out along with it. This time they re-enter it and use your PIN number. They then empty as much cash as they can from your account..
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:57 PM
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We don't want to get an additional credit card as multiple cards can have a negative effect on your credit rating.

We like being able to pay for things without the conversion fee so many banks charge.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 11:11 PM
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Your question was "can I use debit cards to buy things in London"

The answer is almost "yes, of course. Why would you imagine you couldn't?"

BUT, in London, as in many other parts of the world, there is one proviso: Some traders can't or won't accept debit cards as a guarantee. In Las Vegas recently, for example, Avis insisted on a credit card upfront to act as security, although they volunteered to tear up my credit card receipt at the end and put the completed transaction through onto my debit card. I've heard similar stories about car hire elsewhere.

As anywhere, debit cards need to be used with care. Don't let them out of your sight when buying goods or services: use ATM's in busy, supervised areas, and preferably during banking hours outside banks, have a spare or two and beware of people trying to be helpful while you're using it.



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Old Sep 19th, 2003, 07:42 AM
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Thank you all for the information. Although I had called just about all of our credit card companies and had been told that there would be a 3% conversion fee for foreign purchases, coincidentally, the one I had not called was Capitol One! I just called and was assured that Capitol One does not charge a conversion fee for foreign purchases. That's the card I will be using!
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Old Sep 19th, 2003, 08:17 AM
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I just spoke with Discover for the same reason and they also do not charge a conversion rate. Just not sure how accepted they are in Europe.
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Old Sep 19th, 2003, 08:30 AM
  #11  
AR
 
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Cards widely accepted in the UK ATM's (Cashpoints) are Visa, Mastercard and ones showing the Link logo. Diners card carries this logo in the UK. American Express is not accepted that widely. Stores will only accept Visa or Mastercard and very rarely American Express.
Try to use ATM's at banks or building societies. Do not use any of the new stand alone style (usually found in convenience stores and mini-markets) machines as they add £1.50 - £2 charge every time you use them. They don't usually accept Visa anyway.
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