Husband worried about CCard use

May 15th, 2008, 09:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,025
Husband worried about CCard use

Please reassure me that the UK accepts Credit Cards everywhere. My husband has started to worry...

My plans are to take a little emergency cash. Use ATM card to get a few pounds and charge everything else possible.

DOes that sound logical?
joebear is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 09:36 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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Don't worry, Visa and MasterCard Credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere that I can think of here in the UK.

I'd allow a bit of cash for small purchases, not just for emergencies though.

Understandably, given the charges, a few people running small businesses such as newsagents won't take them for very small amounts, but anything over a couple of pounds will be fine.

You do mean debit cards for ATMs? For cash withdrawn using a credit cards, our banks count them as a cash advance and start charging interest from the day of withdrawal. Yours may do likewise.
C2BK is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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MC/Visa are accepted almost universally in the UK as they are in the USA, especially in London and that includes such places as fast food places...most pubs do not accept them at the bar, internet cafes don't accept them and newstands usually don't accept them but that's about it.

But you should be aware that while in the USA part of the merchant's contracts with visa/mc prohibit them from setting a minimum amount for use of a credit card or surcharging credit card purchases, that is not apparently part of the UK merchant agreements. You might find some merchants setting minimums for use of a credit card; I ran into this problem at a subway shop last time I was in London when I bought a sandwich for £3.50 (certainly not a small amount and despite the fact the register was plastered with mc and visa logos, there were no signs telling me there was a minimum which the clerk insisted was 5 quid...I told them I don't walk around with that kind of money...the clerk suggested I walk next door to the ATM and I basically said no way...I said, I guess I won't be able to take the sandwich (it had already been made) and the clerk muttered something under her breath and took the credit card and of course the transaction went through. They should be required to have a sign when they pull this minimum amount garbage but it's as if it's a norm to require a minimum purchase...

The other possible problem in the UK if you wander a bit off the beaten path is that some illiterate clerks try to tell you that credit cards from technologically inferior countries such as the USA are not valid in the UK as they lack the chip and pin technology. That is, of course, not true as all the terminals that accept chip and pin also accept old fashioned, technologically inferior, magnetic strip cards...stand your ground on this and if the clerk insists, ask to see the least in the UK there won't be much of a language problem as English and American are very closely related languages.
xyz123 is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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Thank you, I will reassure him. We have ATM cards and Debit cards. Got the Capitol One so no transaction fees...along with another VISA.

NO danger of ordering one sandwich with five of us...but that was enlightening.

WE use CC for points every where we can so glad to know we will benefit from all that $ we are spending...

Bought the airline tickets for this trip on FF points...Already saving for the next.

joebear is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,618

Call your credit card company tell them you are travelling to the UK (give dates).

They have been known to ``freeze'' a card as part of their fraud-control system, on the theory that an overseas charge is unusual for this account. But if you call them in advance they will have a record and won't freeze it.

Your plans sound fine.
capxxx is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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Visa and Mastercard are used at almost all hotels (but not many B&Bs), restaurants, stores, sights, transit etc - just as they would be in the US. They can;t be used for small random items or in very small local stores (also similar to the US - you can;t charge 2 ice cream cones). (DO check with very upscale restaurants - a few only take cash.)

But - it doesn;t pay to pull just a few pounds at a time. Get the cash you think you'll need for several days at a time to minimize fees.
nytraveler is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 06:29 PM
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Let me make a few practical suggestions. I have been to London several times and never had a problem with Visa or Master Card usage.

However, there are times you may need £s in paper or coin form, such as bus fares.

There are few facts about money plastic to bear in mind.

Some banks hit you with a fixed fee for using their ATM cards or debit/check cards to withdraw money off net.

Bank of America, where I am at present, has a greedy habit of charging $5.00 per usage UNLESS I go to a machine operated by Barclays Bank. If I do that, then there is no fee added on. I do pay a 1% conversion fee, but that is fairly standard. The basic rate is the interbank rate of exchange which is the rate banks charge each other, so you are getting 1% on top of the lowest rate available to us little people.

If you use travelers checks you will end up paying one way or the other. If they are in pounds, you pay to get them. If they are in dollars, you pay to swap them. I don't care who sells them. If some one says that there is no fee, ask what the exchange rate was when the checks were acquired, and then compare it to the interbank rate. Usually the rate is 6% above the interbank rate, which is NOT in the buyer's favor.

Some credit card issuers charge 3% and more as a tranaction add-on.
I use Capital One and so far I have not been charged very much, if anything, above the interbank rate.

One other petty practice is known as dynamic currency conversion. The bill is presented to you in US dollars because the merchant is doing you a big favor. That is not the case. Tell them you want the bill in local currency. If they refuse, either decline the sale, pay in pounds, or write on the charge slip words to the effect: Local Currency Refused. Disputing Charge.
Then when you get back, dispute the charge. Or if you bank on line, get to an internet connection and do it soon afterwards.

bob_brown is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 07:29 PM
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You don't want travelers checks that have been mentioned above. Period.

We've never had a problem with our cards-but make sure you have several different ones (in case one gets "eaten" or doesn't work on a particular machine) and, as has been mentioned, forewarn the card companies of your dates/countries of travel.

I personally like to have some cash/coins of the country I'm going to before I leave. The extra service charge is worth the peace of mind that I can handle any surprise that might arise without having to find a bank/atm.

I think a good rule of thumb is to have enough small cash to get you meals etc for 2-3 days until towards the end of your visit.
klondike is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 11:08 PM
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As long as you have some cash in your pocket you'll be ok. We tend not to use cards here for minor purchases, but they are widely accepted in all but very small shops. Your local independently-run newsagent might not take them (but might) and if you want a doughnut from the bakery round the corner use cash, but all chain shops and larger retailers will take them. As will 99% of tourist attractions. Restaurants will (but greasy spoon cafes won't).

I understand you want to get the points on your card but you will need to keep a certain amount of cash on you for little purchases. It's not going to make much difference to your point total but will make life a lot easier for you. You won't be popular if you hold up a whole queue of people rushing to get their lunch from a sandwich shop by messing about with a card instead of handing over a couple of quid.

My advice is to keep enough cash on you for snacks, small souvenirs/postcards etc, and probably lunch. Then larger purchases, entry into places and dinner can be taken care of by your card.

xyz - sorry but £3.50 for a sandwich is a ludicrously small amount to want to use a card for in the UK - and you seem to think £5 is a lot of money to carry around on you? It is very common here for retailers to have a minimum purchase for card use (this only applies to independently owned shops, the chains don't care) as otherwise the fee eats their profit.
nona1 is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 12:04 AM
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xyz - sorry but £3.50 for a sandwich is a ludicrously small amount to want to use a card for in the UK - and you seem to think £5 is a lot of money to carry around on you?

our banking system is archaic. we have taken strides toward a cashless society with the oyster card, etc. and banks are flirting with mobile banking/payments. however, in 2008, we should have a system where anybody from anywhere can use their existing payment instruments (ie their credit card)to buy a damn sandwich without carrying cash! ...and without the merchant going bankrupt on credit card fees. disgraceful. don't blame the op, blame our archaic system.
walkinaround is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 02:27 AM
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My DH also worries about credit card use.......but he worries that it will be accepted TOO many places and get overused!!!!
Grcxx3 is offline  
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