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RENFE says I MUST use a spanish credit card?

RENFE says I MUST use a spanish credit card?

Old Aug 15th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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RENFE says I MUST use a spanish credit card?

I seem to have a new problem buying RENFE tickets that other posters haven't reported - I tried all the tips to buy AVE tickets from Madrid to Barcelona for our trip this September. Online I kept getting error messages. I called RENFE and they said that their website just flat out does not accept foreign credit cards and I could not use a foreign credit card over the phone either. I must wait until I am in Spain and purchase at a station. Of course, by then all the discounted tickets will be gone.

Any suggestions!! Is there a consolidator or other company where I can pay a fee and get the tickets through them?
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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The RENFE personnel are not correct, but there are few permutations which will get you past the post, as security control is, (no offence), laxer in the U.S. than in Europe and the controls set up in RENFE software.

Do you or any member of your party have a VISA card? Are they enrolled in 'Verified By VISA' or can they be?

If not, or if even that does not happen for you, I will look for the agencies info. which has appeared on another forum thread recently (or more likely I will give you the links).
It will cost an agency fee, however there appears to have been success in receiving web or estrella fares as indicated on the site plus agency fee.

Come back.

Best wishes.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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As noted, whomever you talked to at Renfe fed you the wrong information. You shouldn't have any problems using VISA, once the card is verified, as mentioned above. If you're trying to purchase more than one set of tickets, then you will have to contact your bank each time. It's a security issue that tends to be annoying most of the time.

Renfe's been a mess since it installed it's updated software more than a year ago and who know how long it's going to take them to straighten everything out.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 11:31 AM
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The RENFE person is wrong. You can do this. However, getting your credit card company to follow through and getting RENFE to work just takes some patience.

I'm just going to copy some information I posted on a former thread if you don't mind, washingtondc, after I successfully but not that easily, booked tickets on RENFE. Wade through the non-essential at will. I'm posting all of it because you might bits that I don't know about:

"I used every nugget of info about RENFE I could find on this board and I printed out and read through these three tutorials:

http://tiny.cc/p8d7Q

http://maribelsguides.com/mg_renfetickets.pdf

http://www.seat61.com/images/Spain-renfe-home.jpg

Here were my most valued pieces of advice and/or lessons learned:

1. Don't sweat working the website in Spanish or worry about trying to keep it in English. The site switches languages on you seemingly at will, and most of the terms are pretty easy to figure out even if you never took Spanish 101. When in doubt, consult the above tutorials for their lists of terms.

2. If the site wipes out your search entries when you hit "continue", don't worry. Just do it again! You're probably in a different language again--or perhaps you are even in the homestretch of buying and you just didn't know it! It's sort of the "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" of internet purchasing.

3. If the schedule isn't posted 62 days out yet, just keep checking in periodically. In early January, not even 31 days were loaded into the system but then suddenly, ta-duh!, I could see my dates in March. Use that time to get more familiar with the vagaries of the site and do a few dry-runs of ticket purchases with dates that are on the same days of the week as your future trip.

4. Register for an account BEFORE you get your tickets. That way, you have the opportunity to get a confirmation from RENFE that you are part of the ordering system (just don't check the box for YES, I WANT EMAIL PROMOTIONS).
and now...

5. I'd like to recommend, "Call your credit card company and let then know you are buying online with the website" but that actually didn't work that well for me. . I hope you guys have better luck! Here's my saga, and maybe it will give you heart when you encounter a problem....

I called my credit card company 10 minutes or more before I attempted my RENFE transaction with the EXACT specifics of my transaction. I then completed the info on the RENFE site, had my mastercard special verification code at the ready, entered that, and you guessed it--I got the GU001 error.

I logged out of RENFE and signed in again, and looked for My Journeys. Nothing. I waited ten minutes to see if anything came through my email. Nothing. So I called the credit card company, and the first thing they did was give me an automated spiel about "an attempt has been made"...and I pressed the number that said I had authorized that transaction.

I then spoke to an agent, who again asked me about this attempt on my account. I explained (and by this time, I was no longer sweetness and light) that not only had I authorized the transaction, but that I had CALLED the company beforehand to authorize it. She looked at the records and said, "Oh, I see that that transaction has gone through now." And I said, "But I don't have a confirm of that transaction and now I can't print my tickets unless I call Spain, and I don't understand why I have to spend extra cash for a phone call when I did everything right as a card holder."

She put me on hold and I made sure to refresh my email in case anything surfaced without my knowing. Nope.

When she finally got back on line, she said, "You'll have to repeat the transaction (so much for "that transaction has gone through"). "I won't be charged twice?" I asked. "No--and if there's a problem, just call us and we can remove any duplicate charges."

I repeated my steps again (almost making the reservation for the wrong day), entered all the payment info again, and wonder of wonders, I received the confirmation screen AND a confirmation email almost simultaneously.

In summary, RENFE actually wasn't that bad if one expects it to be goofy. And expect things not to go smoothly the first time with the credit card/bank dealings no matter what you do!"
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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As others have noted, it's not true. I booked two sets of tickets over the past little while without an issue. I'm in North America. I got a verified by visa screen and it went through (and I've been charged) with no issue. Good luck
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 02:52 PM
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Nope and nope. I have been using a verified visa card, no problem buying stuff on other Spain websites. Already followed all those tips outlined in this forum and elsewhere. Contacted the bank, used different computers, everything. Still getting error messages.

I will try calling RENFE again tomorrow and hope I get a more helpful agent. I swear you'd think they dont want US travelers to visit.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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It has nothing to do with not wanting your business. If you've gone through the verification process, then it's your bank/credit card company that's blocking the purchase.

Calling Renfe is a waste of time. Right now the site is down for scheduled maintenance.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 10:33 PM
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Sorry if you do not get it - I repeat and echo - it is a failing of your credit card company.
You may want to purchase in Spanish and receive a different coded and more precise error message (to translate), which will confirm this failing.
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Old Aug 15th, 2010, 11:07 PM
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I had no problem buying RENFE tickets online last year with an Australian issued Visa card.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 01:45 AM
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washingtondc: Even though Spanish rail "redesigned" the website just a few months ago, the problem you are having is more or less SNAFU for Renfe. You can read posts here from 2008 or older with almost the exact same experiences.

People over the years have tried everything to get the purchase done, and when they call Spain, are told only a Spanish card or AMEX will work OR that only a Spanish credit card will work. Yet if they keep trying, one day the charge goes through without a hitch.

Persistence--trying at different hours over a week, contacting your credit card company to see if there was even an attempt to get the transaction on their end--usually is key. As I put in a previous post, after my own successful but problematic purchase, I helped a friend purchase her tickets on line. Again, I did the good little customer "alert" to the credit card company, and STILL got the error message on the RENFE website. Sure enough, the credit card company was the block, even though we had been assured in person by the credit card company rep with our pre-purchase call that the charge WOULD be authorized.

In the meantime, I am sure someone posted the name of a local and very reliable agent who can buy the tickets for you at less than RailEurope price. It's somewhere on this board! I hope someone can find it.

Good luck.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 04:05 AM
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Just a word of warning to others - apparently something has changed at Renfe in the past year. I have been told by three different Renfe agents, as well as the helpful concierge at my hotel, that the discounted tickets can ONLY be purchased by those with a european Visa or with a Spanish credit card. Despite repeated calls to my credit card company, repeated trys on the website, and calls to Renfe, I cannot purchase these tickets. Absolutely absurd.

The concierge is going down to the station to get them for me, for a fee.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 04:14 AM
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I'm happy you found a solution, washington dc. Good work!!!!!
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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I don't know what problem is you're having. It has to be your bank. Nothing's changed at Renfe lately and the three different Renfe agents you talked to were wrong. The discounted tickets can be purchase by anyone as long as they are offered and the credit card is verified.

We purchased discounted tickets from Madrid to Cordoba three days ago for travel in late September without any problem except that we had to have the new credit card verified first before we could complete the purchase.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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"Just a word of warning to others - apparently something has changed at Renfe in the past year. I have been told by three different Renfe agents, as well as the helpful concierge at my hotel, that the discounted tickets can ONLY be purchased by those with a european Visa or with a Spanish credit card."

Interesting comment ... maybe this is the case as I write this very comment (now!), but I can assure you I had no problems purchasing estrella tickets a little earlier this year with my Canadian-issued Visa card. BTW I have never experienced any problems with the RENFE web site in the past and always obtained what I wanted on the first try (and have done so several times). I am trying to figure out what would be different in my case. I also never had to call my card issuer to authorize the charge coming from the web site. I do, however, always get the "Verified by Visa" page every time. Perhaps my spending patterns on the card have been consistent enough.

One thing on a slightly different topic, since the RENFE site was re-vamped earlier this year, there does not seem to be as much a prevalence of web and estrella fares available as before. Not only do fewer trains appear to have them, but I have yet to see any such fares for the Preferente class since that time. (and I have tried a number of times going through a purchasing "dry run") Maybe it is simply because the summer/early fall season sees a high demand regardless and that there is less of an incentive for RENFE to offer such. We'll see what happens in the slower winter season I suppose ...

kanadajin
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 09:16 AM
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Out of curiousity, I was thinking of creating a new post titled: Who has bought Renfe tickets with an American credit card in the past two weeks? So Robert, that's great you answered before I could post.

WashingtonDC: Back to my assertion: "the problem you are having is more or less SNAFU for Renfe". What seems to be consistent if you look back to posts from 2006 is that everyone's experience is different: some cards go through right away; some cards stall; some people get error messages; some people get nada EVER.

The important thing is, DC, that you found a way to get tickets and you should be proud.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Glad you resolved the matter.

It appears the concierge at the hotel knows better than we, who are fully aware of the problem, see this query on forums at least every other day and keep repeating ourselves.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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I recently bought a ticket just last week and it was a websaver deal. I don't have a spanish cc.
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Old Aug 17th, 2010, 04:23 AM
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Well, not in the last 2 weeks, but, with persistence, I was able to buy discounted tickets over the internet in March and April of this year with my MasterCard card here in the USA.
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Old Aug 17th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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I'm in the US, but have a French credit card, and was able to use it to buy tickets on the RENFE site. See:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-6598805

- Larry
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Old Aug 17th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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We just purchase two more tickets yesterday for clients, using an American based credit card (VISA), with no problem, after the bank had approved the transaction.

The only issue remains having the bank unblock the card. If the card you're using doesn't have a "history" of making such purchases it will be blocked by most banks as an unusual transaction.
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