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Myer Apr 5th, 2012 07:11 AM

Using a US Credit Card in France
Two years ago we were in Italy and had no trouble using our regular US credit cards in stores, train station ticket machines, etc.

Is it any different in France?

deedeedee Apr 5th, 2012 07:16 AM

Call your credit card company and let them know when & where you will be using your card ...

StCirq Apr 5th, 2012 07:22 AM

No, French merchants (like merchants all over the world) are happy to take your credit cards, though in general Amex outside big cities isn't quite as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard. And there are some instances, such as train station ticket machines and automatic fuel stations where your card may not work if it's not a chip-and-pin card (which it likely isn't). And of course at outdoor markets and such you may find vendors who will deal only in cash.

StuDudley Apr 5th, 2012 07:30 AM

Last year in a few grocery stores in not-so-touristy areas, we were not able to use our swipe card. For the 11 years prior to last year, we had no problems using it.

As noted - only a chip card will work at un-attended gas stations and train/metro automated ticket machines.

About 15% of the time we tried to use our swipe card at an un-attended toll both on an autoroute, it was not accepted.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Apr 5th, 2012 07:42 AM

Our swipe card did not work at the booth at 2 different "attended" gas stations last year. We never had problems at attended stations prior to last year.

Stu Dudley

Ackislander Apr 5th, 2012 08:11 AM

Some Metro stations in Paris have added new ticket machines that accept US cards without any problem at all. These seemed to be new in April, 2011, and were the machines with menus in multiple languages. The older machines accept chip and pin or cash only.

The RER ticket machines at CDG accept US credit cards. I cannot speak of any others.

jent103 Apr 5th, 2012 08:36 AM

Caveat: I was only in Paris when using my cards. The only place my card was outright denied was at the ticket machine at the Luxembourg RER station (this did, of course, happen early in the morning when I was trying to get to CDG to catch my flight home!). That machine didn't even have a cash mechanism. Fortunately there was a kiosk up on the street level so I was able to buy one from an actual agent. (I had bought tickets for a return trip at CDG, but apparently threw away the correct ticket at some point instead of the one I'd already used. Oops.)

Anyway, any shop or museum I tried accepted a swipe card. I used cash if I encountered a machine. I was in Italy last year - the chip seems to be a little more necessary in France than in Italy, but I had no real problems apart from the above.

MaineGG Apr 5th, 2012 08:37 AM

We had essentially the same experiences as StuDudley last fall. In addition, there are some parking garages where chip/pin credit card payment is required to exit the garage.

CarolA Apr 5th, 2012 08:48 AM

I have not had any problems EXCEPT on the Metro/RER machines that are "suppose" to accept all American cards. They wouldn't take mine :) The merchants/hotels/one resturant/ etc.. all knew what to do!

I have received a chip/pin card now and will take it in the future just for this reason, but since it's not a good card in terms of fees etc.. it's only getting pulled out if I am stuck

Surfergirl Apr 5th, 2012 08:58 AM

How do we know which cards are the chip/pin?

I remember this conversation a few years ago trying to rent one of the rental bikes in Paris. But I forgot how the whole thing works.

MarySteveChicago Apr 5th, 2012 09:00 AM

Last year on I'le Saint Louis, a tourist area, several shops would not take my Amex.

Be sure to ask what your bank charges for using it in France. We took out a CapitalOne International card solely because it has a 0% user fee

Have fun!

Tubulus Apr 5th, 2012 09:28 AM

In the South/Southwest we only had an issue at a couple restaurants and stores. However, do check your statements after, we had a few multiple-swipes, which I chalk up to them being confused how to use the swipe (rather than chip). Tolls were fine.

DebitNM Apr 5th, 2012 09:35 AM

Andrews Federal Credit Union now has true chip and pin [not signature cards] credit cards. There is no annual fee, but they do charge 1% foreign transaction fee. I will take this along with Cap One Credit Card and Cap One ATM, which are fee-less.

DebitNM Apr 5th, 2012 09:40 AM

From the first thread linked above:

DebitNM on Mar 5, 12 at 9:25pm
It seems that there is a misunderstanding at to what CHIP and PIN really is about. A TRUE CHIP and PIN does not require a signature. It is put into a reader, a PIN is then entered by cardholder and the transaction is complete.

Most of the card that say they are CHIP cards, may have a PIN to use with it, but ultimately the transaction HAS to have a signature to complete. Very different things.

This link shows the various cards and if the require a signature. And also note, that many of the cards either are for commercial accounts or if they are for individuals, have [high]annual fees. Buyer beware when searching for cards.

Andrews FCU is the way to go.

MaineGG Apr 5th, 2012 10:16 AM

<Most of the card that say they are CHIP cards, may have a PIN to use with it, but ultimately the transaction HAS to have a signature to complete.>

I have the US Bank FlexPerks Visa with a chip. During our last trip to France, it worked as a chip and PIN (no signature required) card, and also as a chip and signature card. It also works as a swipe/signature card and has the pay/wave RFID function (which .

I do think the Andrews FCU card is a better way to go with no annual fee and a lower foreign transaction fee. Hope it works well.

Myer Apr 5th, 2012 10:27 AM

I called Citibank and asked about a chip card. They said that they are partially converted.

They were prepared to convert my account but I would have had to change my credit card number which I didn't want to do.

I then applied for a new card with no annual fee but includes a chip card.

The intention is that I'll use my regular card whenever possible and the chip card when I have a problem. So I'm less concerned with transaction fees and more concerned with it working.

I assume it also has a swipe strip since I'm sure they want me to use it everywhere.

We'll see how that works out.

DebitNM Apr 5th, 2012 10:32 AM

Myer, most Citibank cards are not true chip and pin. They have a chip but must be swiped and signed. Look at the link above with

Myer Apr 5th, 2012 11:16 AM



Then what good is it if it diesn't work?

I'll see if the instructions that come with it shed any light on the matter.

Maybe I'll also look into the Andrews card you mentioned above.

Good thing I have two months.

And I thought I was too old to start gathering credit cards.

klieghj Apr 5th, 2012 01:04 PM

Someone mentioned the Velib bike rental as requiring a chip and pin card. I have read a couple places recently that you can now use an American Express magnetic swipe card. I copied the below information from an article I found online. As a side note the last time I was in Paris I don't think I needed an iPhone app to find a station as they seemed to be everywhere. :)

The Vélib’ app, available on iTunes, tells you where to find the nearest station and the number of bikes there. And at a little more than $2 a day, the price is hard to beat. (Bring your American Express card, though; Vélib’ machines are not compatible with Visas and MasterCards that do not have a European chip.)

Surfergirl Apr 5th, 2012 04:13 PM

@klieghj -- I was the one who asked, and I thank you for the information!

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