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Need PIN for general credit card use in Spain Portugal

Need PIN for general credit card use in Spain Portugal

Old Dec 2nd, 2013, 05:50 PM
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My sister and I just returned from 12 days in Spain. Right before the trip, I received my new MasterCards, which I have utilized on many trips to Europe without the need for a PIN. I had purchased train tickets online and Alhambra tickets online from home, but they needed to be printed off in Spain. Lo and behold, my credit cards, for the first time ever, would not work to obtain these tickets because it required a PIN.

I didn't know my PIN number, called the credit card people, and they couldn't tell me my number. DH called from home requesting the number and was told it would be mailed to us - not much help while in Spain.

That said, I had no trouble using the CC for purchases, just picking up the tickets I bought online. It was a headache and it would have been helpful to know it ahead of time.

That's my recent experience - hopd it's helpful.

By the way, we loved Spain!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2013, 07:15 PM
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"for the first time ever, would not work to obtain these tickets because it required a PIN." The pin they required was one associated with a "chip & pin" card, which yours is not.

If you purchased you train tickets on line through Renfe, then you should have received an email with the tickets. You should have also been able to print them when you purchased them online.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Robert2533: Don't be so sure. I have only U.S., non-chip and pin cards, and many transactions would not be processed without a PIN. This was true in a variety of places, including gas stations - nobody wants to spend a week at a gas station because s/he doesn't know the PIN for the credit card. U.S. banks may not be issuing chip and pin cards, but they DO issue PINs for their credit cards, and any traveler should know his or her PIN before heading for Europe.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:35 AM
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I have no idea what the PIN number is for any of my credit cards, and have never had a need to know. My Amex is "chip & signature".
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:41 AM
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>>but they DO issue PINs for their credit cards, and any traveler should know his or her PIN before heading for Europe.<<

The PINs one has w/ a US issued credit card is for withdrawing cash from an ATM. (Not a good idea but useful in emergencies). One usually gets a PIN sent under separate cover when a new credit card is received and then one is normally expected to change that PIN to one of their own choosing. Many people don't bother since they don't foresee using a cc for cash withdrawals.

None of this has anything to do w/ the PINs used w/ credit cards (Chip & PIN) in most of Europe. With a magnetic stripe card -- there wouldn't even be a way to use its PIN for a purchase.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 05:28 PM
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janisj:

That's just not true -- unless the several dozen credit card slips I have from my recent trip are all a big mirage. They took my plain-old-American credit card and swiped it, then they requested a PIN, which I typed into the machine, then a slip came out. Maybe half the time I was asked to sign, half not -- and the amount being charged was not a factor in that.

I'll stop now -- if someone wants to not do a truly simple thing and obtain/remember a PIN for a credit card, fine. But I don't know why one would take the chance of having a credit card declined on that basis.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 06:49 PM
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Sorry declaw, but I have never encountered this issue regarding a pin when using a credit card, not in the past 40 years or so. Where you actually using your debit card (with the 4 digit pin) and not your credit card? If not, then I would be very interested in knowing which bank you use so that we can stay away from them in the future.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:02 PM
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I agree - have used many credit cards all over Europe every year (last just in October) and have never (ever) been asked for a PIN. Simply isn't done w/ a magnetic stripe card - since in europe the PINs are associated w/ a specific chip.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:48 PM
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I agree with janisj and also haven't been asked for a pin and in theory, the pin used for cash advances is different than a pin used in a chip and pin transaction. However...

I have read elsewhere of situations in Denmark where a credit card was used and a pin requested (don't remember if it was magnetic strip or chip and signature). Some say simply enter 0000 and some have reported that works. Others have said just press the green button and that works. Others have claimed you can enter any pin and that works. Some have even reported they entered the cash advance pin and that worked. Others have reported none of them have worked. (I am just the messenger on this, I don't know what's right and what's wrong). I have no reason to question the op about experiences in Portugal.

Of course we could fix this whole mess by having the USA enter the 21st century; but that doesn't seem to be particularly imminent.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 05:23 AM
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If I call my credit card company, I should ask them for a pin to use for charging. Is this correct? Like others I have never had a problem using the American credit card in all of our travels. Have gotten stuck without a chip and pin card at unmanned gas stations, but that's about it. However, I will be traveling to Portugal in the Spring and don't want any unexpected surprises. I appreciate the info.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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Your bank will not give you the 'pin' over the telephone. They will mail you a new pin for your credit card, but since we travel to Portugal occasionally, I've never encountered the situation regarding needing a pin number.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 08:06 AM
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>>If I call my credit card company, I should ask them for a pin to use for charging. Is this correct?<<

no. (dedlaw is the only one reporting using a PIN w/ a magnetic stripe credit card. I have never experienced that)
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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In rereading dedlaw's posts, he/she seems to have been in a (strange) situation that the rest of us have never experienced. Spending at least a third of the year traveling in Spain, Portugal and France, I have never encountered this 'pin' situation with a credit card.

We accept credit cards as part of our business and the only number the merchant is concerned about when using a credit card is its security code. When swiping a card, there is no option for entering the cards security code, it's included in the magnetic stripe. The card reader then gets an approval, or denies the transaction.

When entering a card number (not swiping the card), then yes, the merchant would then have to enter the cards security code (3 digits for Visa or MC, 4 for Amex). This happens occasionally when the card reader can not read the magnetic stripe and the account number has to be entered manually.

As xyz123 mentions, it will be a long while before American banks are ready to change the system. Amex is supposed to have the chip and signature incorporated into all of their cards by the end of 2014, and Barclays (because it's a UK based bank) may have some of their American credit cards ready for the rest of the world sometime in the near future, but one never knows.

There are a few other American banks currently offering a chip and signature card (which works fine in most situations), but as far as I know there are only a few Credit Unions (no banks) offering a chip and pin card at this time.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 09:58 AM
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The State Dept Credit Union offers a chip & pin card. I think you just need to open up an account and anyone may do that.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 10:11 AM
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The card I primarily used -- a credit card, not a debit card -- is a Chase United Club Card. I.e., a perfectly typical U.S. credit card. The card was swiped as usual, and then I was handed the machine to insert my PIN. Because I knew it, I put in the PIN, and as mentioned earlier, in many cases, I didn't need to sign (even on bills of 100 euros or more). If I had said "I don't have a PIN," maybe the card would have worked, I don't know because I never tried it. And at some places, it was clear that without a PIN I couldn't have processed the transaction (particularly gas stations). In the past in Europe, I have only rarely been asked for a PIN, this trip was very different because the request was universal. I always make sure I have the PIN in case my bank card won't work at an ATM and I need a backup). As I say, you may be fine without a PIN as most others here report, but since it is free and absolutely painless, why choose to not know your PIN just to make a point?
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 10:17 AM
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well, I've been to France quite a bit in the last few years and have never once encountered any kind of establishment that refused a regular US credit card with only a magnetic strip. That would be really odd for any place in the tourism business or used to handling travelers (like hotels). I could understand it for some real small mom and pop store or something. And I've been in smaller towns, also.

I have PINs for every credit card I have, I always make sure I get one just in case I have to use one for emergency cash at an ATM and my ATM card doesn't work. I've never had to use it, though, but it's my backup plan.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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oh, sorry, I forgot the question was about Spain -- well, I was in Spain last summer and no, I never needed a PIN to use my credit card in any store, restaurant or hotel.
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Old Dec 4th, 2013, 11:13 PM
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This an article from the BBC illustrates how things are changing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25202904
This devise is available for use in a lot of countries. The only minus point is bank charges so will it take off?
https://www.izettle.com/
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Old Dec 5th, 2013, 01:23 AM
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Perhaps I'm not interpreting the above precisely and if that is so, my apologies. In the USA, we have such devices. I have one from a company called square.com. I install the card reader into the headphones jack of my smartphone and voila I can take credit cards without going through a lengthy approval process or paying a whole lot in bank fees (I have a small accounting practice in my retired days and do income tax returns for clients and most pay with their credit cards). Works perfectly and the money is in my account the next day.

So, and again if this is what the above poster is getting at, this is not a revolutionary thing. However, it uses magnetic strip cards. I wonder and I am sure the product will be upgraded to accept chip and pin card when the day arrives (wishful thnking perhaps) when the USA enters the 21st century on this.
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Old Dec 5th, 2013, 03:59 AM
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I think versions of this have been available for some time, but this one presumably combines functions that may not be available elsewhere. The big question is how much the device itself costs, and how much do you pay in charges to the service provider. I am also surprised that it does not appear to accept the "wave and pay" cards which are now popular for paying small sums (under £20/$30) in coffee shops, etc. They dispense with the need to enter a pin, and make the transaction much quicker.
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