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First Chip-and-PIN US Debit Card Available-Stiff Price

First Chip-and-PIN US Debit Card Available-Stiff Price

Old Dec 19th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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First Chip-and-PIN US Debit Card Available-Stiff Price

http://www.newsday.com/travel/foreig...rice-1.2548008
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Hi JC,

Rather high cost for little utility, and you still have to have a CC to rent a car.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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These are now available at about every bank in France. The purpose is for parents to provide teenagers with travel or holiday money before they start really managing their own accounts. Most banks charge about 5€ for the cards, which you can then load and reload as required. I would imagine that visitors to France could easily purchase them as well, since they are even sold in the finance section of hypermarket chains.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Link seems to take a long time to open. Here's the story...

Travelex, the leading foreign-exchange agency, has introduced the first chip-and-PIN debit card available to U.S. travelers. Because you can't always use traditional magnetic-stripe American cards at European banks - many merchants have switched to the embedded-memory-chip card system - this card could come in handy.

HOW IT WORKS The Travelex card is a stored-value debit card that the buyer loads with money before traveling. It carries the MasterCard logo and is available in euros or pounds. Carriers can use the cards for most payments overseas other than a few, such as renting a car, that require credit rather than debit. It also be used to withdraw cash at foreign ATMs. Once loaded, the card imposes no transaction or exchange fees, and you pay extra only when the operator of an ATM adds a local fee. If you have a remaining value, you can reconvert to dollars without further penalty.

THE DOWNSIDE The convenience of Travelex can come at a stiff price - the lousy exchange rate. Storing $500 worth of euros costs 1.52 to the dollar, compared with a bank rate of 1.32. That's an exchange premium of more than 15 percent, far more than you pay with any credit card, most ATM withdrawals and exchanging cash or travelers' checks at most locations. You have to store $2,500 or more before you get a decent exchange rate, currently 1.38 to the dollar, still worse than many other options.

If you think you'll need it, buy a Travelex card with a bit more value than you expect to charge, but use it only where you can't use your regular cards. For now, that's mainly automatic merchandising machines.

Travelex's Chip and Pin Cash Passport cards are sold only at retail locations - including Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City and JFK International Airport, Terminal 9 (American Airlines). Details at travelex.com.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 10:56 AM
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Ira, this would at least allow people to use all of the automatic machines like petrol pumps or ticket machines. I would absolutely not pay the Travelex price, though.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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Because you can't always use traditional magnetic-stripe American cards at European banks - many merchants have switched to the embedded-memory-chip card system - this card could come in handy.

This is misleading. I have yet to find a bank or merchant in Europe who could not accept my credit card. It's only the automatic machines that are a problem. But generally I never use my debit card. Why should I pay immediately when I get a float on my credit card until the next payment is due, and more importantly, can check the charges as accurate before making the payment?
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Interesting news - bookmarking to see if anyone writes in on whether or not visitors to France can indeed purchase the ones kerouac mentioned. (5 euro clearly being the preferable fee!)
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 12:53 PM
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If one looks at the issue only from the cost point of view, the Travelex or Kerouc's solutions don't seem to have value.

However, if one looks at the whole story across different transactions, there are cases where these types of products have a compelling value for the added cost.

Buying tickets at SNCF is one example. The SNCF accepts magnetic strip only cards. But the relevant context is that you have to deal with a human attendant. My train leaves in 20min and I don't have a ticket, but I have a magnetic only credit card and cash but not all in coins. I see a long line at the ticket window and none at ticket machines. I grudgingly wait at the long line but miss the train and have to wait an hour for the next one. I would have paid some Euros more using Kerouc's solution to be able to arrive at the destination earlier.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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The Travelex price is outrageous, but at least this is a crack in the wall. Maybe some card issuers will catch on and generate some competition to get the price down. C+P is also accepted in many restaurants, in the luggage storage at Haarlem train station (the only way you can pay), and probably many other places that do not accept V,MC,or Amex. My ABN ATM card with C+P comes in handy quite often.
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Old Dec 19th, 2010, 04:30 PM
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Kerouac - Are you saying that one can purchase these at banks or hypermarkets for a flat 5 euro charge no matter the amount you load on the chip and pin card? If so, what would one ask for at the hypermarket or the bank? It would be good to have available for gas purchases or autoroute tolls.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 01:39 AM
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You would ask for a "carte de débit prépayée" or to make it even clearer "une carte Visa prépayée."

Here is a commercial link from some bank explaining the system (in French):

http://www.carte-bancaire-rechargeab...de=USD&lang=fr
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 02:14 AM
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UK versions of Travelex cash passport are cheaper and can be obtained at any Travelex exchange offices and certain travel agents (such as Thomas Cook) and other outlets in UK.
http://www.cashpassport.com/1/en/uk/...Cash-Passport/
It's cheaper to buy online, but only available to UK residents.
Current euro/stg rate is 1.15 (which is 2.5% worse than interbank).
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 02:39 AM
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The importance to have a C+P card gets a bit blows out of proportion.

I have a C+P CC (and DC) issued by a German bank, and have so far experienced:

C(hip)+PIN in Germany
C+S(ign) in Spain
S+S in Germany
S(wipe)+PIN in Spain
S+S in Belgium
C+S in Ireland
C+S in the UK
C+P in Spain
C+P in Switzerland

Even when you have a C+P card, it does not necessarily mean that any merchant's C+P reader can access the foreign data base for running the PIN-based identification process.

What I have experienced is that a foreign C+P card can cause confusions in countries where C+P is the norm.
Some merchants or cashiers get irritated when the card works with the chip reader, but the machine tells them to get a signature from the customer instead of prompting the PIN.
This has led to a few awkward situations when the expert college kid running the cash had to call the manager because there was "something funny" with the card. I think I would have been better off if I had handed him the old swipe+sign card.

With the exception of automated gas pumps in France, or vending and ticket machines elsewhere, I still have to find one point of sale in Europe which does not offer the swipe and sign option as well.

And in some countries, you cannot even use foreign DCs with the Maestro logo with those machines because they only take the local banking cards, like the ticket machines in Belgium.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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For larger purchases, every merchant has a limit over which a signature is required in addition to the PIN.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 06:20 AM
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DH and I experienced what greg describes. Before the chip technology, we just used the ticket machine at the train station in the a.m. and hopped right on the train. To return, we did the same thing. When our cards no longer worked in the ticket machines, we had to change our strategy: bought to and from tickets from a person the day before and hoped we'd timed things correctly.

Thanks for the info, joannyc.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 10:46 AM
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I'm just wondering if these new cards would finally allow our poor cousins the Americans to use the Vélib machines in Paris without an American Express card.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 05:38 PM
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poor cousins the Americans

Us *poor cousins* can use Amex if we want to pay only 3%. The Travelex card seems to be an order of magnitude higher. Rip off does not begin to describe it.
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Old Dec 20th, 2010, 09:18 PM
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I am still confused about Kerouac's advice - can one get a chip and pin card in France as a visitor? We're arriving there on Dec 26th and it'd be great if supermarkets carry them.

Help much appreciated.
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 01:22 AM
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From what I have read, these new cards are even being marketed as "gift cards" for people, which means that absolutely anybody can buy them.

However, one of the principal uses is for immigrants to bypass the charges of things like Western Union. They send the card to their family in Africa (for example) and transfer money to the card from their bank account over the internet. Then the person at the other end can just go to an ATM and withdraw the money.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 03:19 PM
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Amit, do let us know if you tried to get a c&p card, and how it worked out!
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