Travel Money & Credit Cards France

Old Sep 15th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Travel Money & Credit Cards France

Could someone please clear up something for me regarding credit cards in France? These questions stem from a post from cooperdpg on or about 09-13-06

1. Is Visa Travel Money Card (which is just a pre-paid Visa) accepted everywhere?

2. When using a Travel Visa in US$ does anyone know what rate they are addding on to the bank exchange rate? i.e. Bak rate =2%, 4% and are there any processing charges , e.g. $2 per transaction

3. How would I know if my current MC are smart cards?

4. Has anyone else encountered problems in Paris with MC / Visa or is this just something out of the ordinary?

I was planning on using my credit cards for purchases and my Bank Visa ATM for cash. I already now their charges and conversion rate add on. Does that still sem to make sense?

Thanks
josep55 is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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I'll try withj my lmited knowledge.

Yes VISA and M/C will be accepted. French credit cards have a "puce" which is an imbedded chip in the card that adds an extra level of security. What you iwll find is that your cards will not work in automated machines (RER, SNCF, Roissybus machine at CDG, autoroute tolls,etc..) For those you would need to line up and deal with a live person.

I've seen the ads for the VISA cash cards. If you search on this forum, you will see the equivalent AMEX product mercilessly trashed due to charges. What is your reason for using this card? What are the charges? What advntage does this card give you? Methinks it might be the CC company that gains on this...

If you get an ATM card (not credit card advance) to access your checking account back home, you can easily have access to cash.

Yes, VISA will add an additional fee for international transactions. Depnds on your bank.

In my opinion, an ATM card for all day to day expenses, and a credit card for large (hotel, car rental, big buys) is how I would do this.

Michel_Paris is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Those Visa travelmoney prepaid cards are quite expensive for what you get. They have high fees to buy the card, and a fee to close them out (although you can avoid that if you do it in person at AAA). They have a bad exchange rate, also, but you'll have to check with them as to what it is currently. The last time I checked with AAA (who sells them), it was around 7-9 pct markup over interbank rate, as I recall. The rate was higher on purchases than ATM cash, I think, but both were really high.

It doesn't matter what currency you have it in, you'll pay that markup whether you buy it in USD or buy it supposedly euro (which just puts the conversion at a different point). They do also have an ATM fee on top of that bad exchange rate and other flat fees for the card, it is $2 per use abroad ($2.50 in the US).

Those are the fees for AAA's terms on the Visa Travelmoney card. If you get one elsewhere, you'd have to check with them for specifics on the charges as they might vary some. They are never going to be good, you can bet on that.

Because you already have a CC and an ATM card, there is no reason to get this card.
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 09:42 AM
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I'm curious why you would want to use a "travel money" type card. Aren't there high fees to load it, etc.?
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 10:34 AM
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Actually, my US Visa card worked fine the other day on the autoroute. I was just curious having seen posts to the contrary and it worked fine. I am pretty sure that would also be true for parking lots and other places where even French cards, you do not put in your pin code.

One place where US cards will not work is at unattended gas stations. These you need to punch in your pin code before getting gas and so a US card without the "puce" (i.e. chip) - will not work. That can be a problem on Sundays when a lot of the cheaper gas stations are unattended.

-Kevin
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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I think, in the end, you could take this list, in order of preference

1. ATM card linked to checking account
2. Cash advance on Credit Card
3. Credit Card
4. Euros bought at home
5. Euros bought in Europe with home currency
5. Travellers cheques
6. Cash cards
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Michael....I have two differences with you.
1. Listing cash advance against cc as second in preference. This should go all the way down to the bottom of list as it is treated as a loan and is subject to double diget interest charges.
2. In your opening posting I would include restaurants in your cc use.Meals add up to big bucks and would require withdrawing beaucoup dollars from your ATM checking account each day.
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 11:24 AM
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I agree. I looked at my list and thought...no,that should be lower down. Interest is charged from time of withdrawal.
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 03:58 PM
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Cash advance on a credit card would be my absolute last choice. Only in a dire emergency. Unless you pay off your balance in full, you continue to pay and pay & at an even higher rate that usual for a cash advance transaction.
suze is offline  
Old Sep 16th, 2006, 04:24 AM
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Given the per-check fees and poor exchange rates to cash traveler's checks, I would probably place traveler's checks as the all-around worst deal. I haven't used them in years, but I have read posts where the loss in the exchange was on order of 15% or more.
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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I think the T.C. deal varies by destination. For example, I was very surprised to find this summer in Mexico that there were no fees and the exchange rate given was the same as cash.
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