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Need PIN for general credit card use in Spain Portugal

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Nov 30th, 2013, 07:38 AM
  #1
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Need PIN for general credit card use in Spain Portugal

A friend just returned from France, and said they had to have a PIN to use their credit card to pay for hotel, etc. (not talking about cash withdrawals, which of course need a PIN).

Any of you that have recently been in Spain and Portugal, is this true? Thanks in advance for your input! We are less than a month from departure and getting excited!
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Nov 30th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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If one has a chip and PIN card - then yes. But the vast majority of Americans (like almost all) don't have those type cards. Most Americans have magnetic strip cards that do no require a PIN -- but the merchant has to process the transactions a little differently. And there are some places a strip card doesn't work at all -- primarily some ticket machines and un-staffed petro stations.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 08:06 AM
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ira
 
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HI Nan,

>A friend just returned from France, and said they had to have a PIN ...

Your friend has been misinformed by a lazy clerk who didn't want to go to the effort of swiping a card.

We had no trouble at all with a US cc in France this past Oct, nor in Spain the year before.

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Nov 30th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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oops - typo: >>have magnetic strip cards that do not require a PIN<<
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Nov 30th, 2013, 08:37 AM
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We have a machine and we can enter the numbers without the card being in hands. This is to take off reservation fees. So it should also be possible to do it the same way with the card in front of the person. It does take a long time to punch in all of those numbers!
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Nov 30th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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As noted, your friend was misinformed.

"Most US cards don’t have chip technology because it is expensive and not required by US merchants, so issuers have been dragging their feet on issuing new cards with them" http://thepointsguy.com

American Express's Platinum Business Card is a chip and signature card, with no foreign transaction fees. Bank of America offers several chip and signature cards, but all charge a foreign transaction fee of up to 3%. Chase offers several chip and signature cards without the foreign transaction fee. Citi Bank and US Bank both offer three chip and signature cards with no foreign transaction fee.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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and to note - The cards Robert mentions are chip and signature not chip and PIN.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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What may be even more confusing is that you CAN get a PIN for an old-style magnetic strip credit card. But the PIN is only useful for withdrawing cash from an ATM (a cash advance = very expensive, not recommended). The PIN would not work in a machine that is trying to read a chip that isn't there.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 12:00 PM
  #9
 
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If you don't have a chip card, my advice is to not rely exclusively on your swipe card for purchases. Actually, don't rely exclusively on credit cards at all because you will need cash in many shops and most restaurants.

Even if an establishment accepts credit cards they may not have a swipe reader. We have also had the problem of the swipe reader function not working in our travels through Europe and daily life in Germany. And there are a lot of places that simply don't take cards or want you to spend a certain amount in order to use one.

When traveling anywhere in Europe, it's a good idea to always have some cash on you for smaller purchases and food.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 01:20 PM
  #10
 
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Almost all of the US credit cards with the emv chip are chip and signature cards and there are several threads here that go through the whole thing and the inherent problems that might arise. Just do a search.

However one correction here. Bank of America issues a card called the travel rewards card. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee but as noted, it's chip and signature. Just how advantageous chip and signature cards are over the antiquated American magnetic strip cards for travel in Europe is the subject of a 130 page thread in another blog.

As far as I know, the only US bank issuing a true chip and pin card is USAA and then only for its mastercard, not its visa card but it has a 1% foreign transaction fee. Several credit unions in the DC area offer cards with an emv chip and are advertised as chip and pin but in reality at most pos terminals, they function as chip and signature cards and some ignorant merchants do not take them after the terminal prints out a receipt incorrectly assuming if there's no pin, their liability is increased. However for the most part, but not always, these cards do function as chip and pin cards at unpersonneled kiosks.

Such is the sorry state of affairs in the USA credit card industry today as, with so many other things, the USA is totally out of touch with the rest of the civilized world!
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Nov 30th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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Yes indeed, BofA offers their WorldPoints® Travel Rewards for Business Visa® with no yearly fee and no foreign transaction fee, but the business card's interest rate is a minimum of 5 points above what I pay on my old Harvard Card (now a Barclays Rewards card), thus making it somewhat less attractive for my use. Their non-business Travel Rewards card is a minimum of 3 points above that, starting at 14.99%.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 02:30 PM
  #12
 
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I just heard about this:
http://www.travelex.com/US/For-Indiv...Passport-FAQs/

It's a prepaid debit card with chip and PIN, which can store multiple currencies. However, there are some fees involved, including withdrawal fees at overseas ATMs. I can see it might be handy though. I think there was a review on FlyerTalk but I can't find it back again.

In Australia Qantas has just released their new Frequent Flyer Card (like, a month ago) which can be converted to a prepaid MasterCard debit card (chip and PIN) with 9 currencies. Everybody has just got one (and in Australia it's linked to the loyalty scheme of a major supermarket, so that would be a lot of people in Australia). It's called QantasCash.
http://www.qantascash.com

So maybe there's something in this for someone here.

Lavandula
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Nov 30th, 2013, 02:34 PM
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I think this thread is full of much inaccurate information. The machines used to process credit transactions have two different slots -- one is used to insert chip and pin cards, the other is used to swipe non-chip and pin cards. HOWEVER, in many places in Portugal (as in, almost all), we still were asked for a PIN for our US credit cards. It is for security, so should not be a big deal. Contact your credit card issuer, make sure your PIN works and then go to Europe without this little thing to be concerned about. I tested this by withdrawing $20 at an ATM here at home -- and in one or two places, my bank's ATM card didn't work, so it was good to be able to get cash with my credit card. And you WILL need cash -- note that at restaurants, it is usually difficult or impossible to include any tip on a credit card charge.

xyz123 is way off base -- US credit card transactions are more secure because of better fraud prevention services employed by the issuers (who don't want to be on the hook for bogus charges), and they don't want to also spend a ton of dough on re-issuing hundreds of millions of credit cards (which would also require merchants to get new machines). We may join the rest of the world on this someday, but maybe not.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 03:03 PM
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New machines do not have slots, only a chip reader.
In the Netherlands many places now have new machines, or have machines where the slot is disabled. This will become the norm throughout Europe in the not too distant future.

I have no idea how the Dutch chip pnly machines cope with a chip and signature card, but I suspect the person taking your payment will be very unfamiliar with such a card anywhere but the most touristy of places. You can't use a Chip and signature card in a ticket machine or at an unmanned pump.

Most Dutch banks do not allow use of their credit cards outside the EU without permission - the reason? Fraud, usually in the US where signatures are not checked on cards that often, and it is too easy to have things ordered on a card and sent to a different address to the card holder's.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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dedlaw...in all due respect, most of the world's card is present fraud occurs in the United States (chip and pin admitedly can do little about on line fraud). The fact is the banks make so much money on their credit card programs that they are willing to put up with the fraud simply as a cost of doing business. Of course, I could care less about what % rate banks charge for interest as I use my credit cards the proper way i.e. paying my bill in full each month and never incurring interest charges.

While yes it is true, and this is discussed elsewhere, converting the US payments system to 100% chip and pin would be costly, the fact is most merchants have to get new terminals every couple of years, they wear out. Also, rather than getting into a nasty broo ha ha about whether emv chip and pin is more secure (it clearly is at least for card is present charges), the fact is like it or not emv chip and pin for the most part has become the world standard as of right now. Why should I be at a disadvantage and not be able to use my credit cards which is the only way to travel in this day and age?

Of course, there is the advice given to me by the Cap One rep when I inquired if and when they would be issuing emv chip and pin cards in the near future. The customer service rep, reading from the script they provide, piously told me that it is not a problem not having an emv card because visa and mastercard regulations require all merchants to take all valid visa and mastercard credit cards. Try telling that to an automatic fuel pump in France on a Sunday afternoon when your card is refused. I wonder what the response would be.

There is no earthly reason, none whatsoever, that US banks do not issue emv chip and pin cards which would also have magnetic strips for use in the USA. USAA has done it and its card works (unfdrtunately with the asinine foreign transaction fee) in both the USA as a magnetic strip card and in the rest of the world as a chip and pin. That problem has long ago been solved.

As far as using the cash advance pin number, sometimes it works but not always. It doesn't hurt, obviously, to have it available just in case as the claim is in Portugal. I have no reason to question that but overall as a whole, it is a completely different issue and set up.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 03:54 PM
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xyz123: There is no earthly reason, none whatsoever, that US banks do not issue emv chip and pin cards which would also have magnetic strips for use in the USA.

The reason is probably cost. Presumably it costs more to make a credit card with a chip. There's also more overhead for the credit card companies: they have to store a PIN, allow a customer to change it, train their CS reps to deal with it, etc. And for most US consumers, because the chips are not used in the US, there's no real value in a chip unless they go overseas.

Of course, that is finally, gradually changing as more and more companies move to chip and signature cards - at least, they figure the chip is cheap enough to add in and/or they are losing too much money from travelers who can't use their magnetic strip cards overseas anymore - even if they don't yet want to add the extra cost of handling a PIN that would work in Europe.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 04:36 PM
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andrew...good analysis and of course cost is always a conideration but then again the question becomes how much the banks are losing due to fraud and the fact that their customers are getting upset at not being able to use credit cards overseas.

As far as chip and signature, the jury is out as to just how useful this is. I have chip and signature cards but my travelling haunts are usually reserved for France, the UK and cruises to Spain and Italy (of course that's me). While I use the B of A chip and signature card for the 1% rebate (I have the cash rewards card which was grandfathered in without the foreign transaction fee when BofA discontinued the Charles Schwab card) I cannot truly say there has been a single instance where having a chip and signature card worked where a magnetic strip card wouldn't. Many blogs have advice from people in Scandanavia and Holland, for example, that chip and signature cards are useless. But for some reason, one gets the feeling that some of the US banks under pressure from their customers felt they had to do something to ameliorate the feelings of their customers and it was easier to just issue chip and signature cards and say see youhave an emv card. Too bad if it doesn't work at unpersonneled kiosks, just go see the cashier.

Now the point is this has been going on for years and the excuses have become sort of tired. The high cost of converting, the fact is some claim Americans would rebel if they actually had to remember a pin (you can't make this stuff up), something better (contactless?) is about to hit the streets and emv is dated. Yada yada yada.

Whether it's a big problem now is a matter of opinion. It is clearly a bigger problem in some countries than others but then again not every country has the same mentality about credit cards as we do in both the USA and the UK where they are taken everywhere for most everything (at least that's my experience). But as more and more travellers find their cards don't work when most they need them, the resentment grows so much so that you can go say to the flyers talk forum and find a 130 page thread on emv cards in the USA.

In any event, both visa and mastercard claim that by 2015, emv will be the norm in the USA although whether it will be chip and pin or chip and signature is still open to question.
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Dec 2nd, 2013, 08:58 AM
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xyz123:
I generally agree with a lot you (and Andrew) write here. Converting to chip and pin in the U.S. will be expensive, and if the cards won't work until there is a full conversion, well, it is sort of like all-electric or hydrogen cell cars: A great idea once critical mass is reached, but nobody wants to spend on the chicken and egg game.
I absolutely agree that this mostly impacts Americans traveling abroad AND that we can see the not-too-distant future when lack of a chip and pin card will mean we're out of luck. It is certainly the case already that some merchants in out of the way places have a hard time with our credit cards.
I disagree about the fraud part, though. I have read many, many articles explaining why the conversion to chip and pin happens in different places at different times. But I guess it all boils down to which "cost of doing business" the banks are willing to eat.
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Dec 2nd, 2013, 09:42 AM
  #19
 
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Note that if you use your credit card and pin to get cash, interest will be charged starting immediately. So use this option only as the last resort.
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Dec 2nd, 2013, 05:46 PM
  #20
 
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Mimar -- that really depends on the card. But I agree it's better to use a bank ATM card if it works (on our recent trip, once or twice it would not work).
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