Using a US Credit Card in France

Apr 5th, 2012, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
I have usedmy Amex to rent the Velib bikes so it does work

As to how you know it is a chip and pin..In my case the bank told me when they sent me the updated card. There was an entire flyer of info. The card also looks different. You can see the chip
The brochure claims this is the same as used in Europe and since it was from a bank with lots of European locations (HSBC) I am going to trust them
CarolA is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 05:43 PM
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Usually no problem if you call and let them know in advance your travel dates. Also note that some/many credit card companies add on one or more categories of foreign transaction fees. There are some that are cheaper than others -Capital One appears to be one of the lower fee cards for foreign travel in my experience. It's not too much of an issue unless you are charging heavily, but the fees can add up.
louloujr is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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"Capital One appears to be one of the lower fee cards for foreign travel" -- it is fee free, in fact.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Myer, the difference is one is a chip and pin and one is a chip and sign. The chip and pin is the card that works at the unmanned kiosks and ticket vending machines. Thanks to DebitNM I have an Andrews visa chip and pin card(and atm card)
ziggypop is online now  
Apr 6th, 2012, 05:26 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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One thing missing from your chart Allison are the annual fees for the credit cards. Cap One Signature Visa has no annual fee, nor does the same card at Andrews FCU . I don't know what Chase Mileage charges per year or if it does at all, but the Amex you mentioned certainly does charge a fee. These annual fees may eat up any savings a casual foreign traveler might get from using these cards.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 06:29 AM
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Ever since an embarrassing incident at a toll booth on the Autoroute in which my U.S. card wasn't accepted, resulting in much honking and gesturing behind us, I try to always carry enough cash for tolls, transportation tickets and small purchases.

We keep a bank account at CIBC in Canada and recently received a chip and pin debit card. Trying to decide if it's worth plunking some extra cash there just in case. To open an account you need to show up in person; after that you can mail in deposits.

Other than self-pay kiosks and toll booths, we've never had a problem using credit cards in the past.

Here's an article about Visa's feeble effort to bring chip and pin to its customers:
Alan_CT is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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I almost started to curse you.

I went to Andrews web site to fill in an online application for their Globe Trek credit card.

Everything went well until I tried to submit my application. It kept telling me that I had an invalid or missing date of birth.

The format shown on the screen is mm/dd/yyyy. Simple enough.

If I entered the "/" a box immediately popped up informing me to enter only numbers. If I entered only numbers I got an error message for a missing or invalid birth date.

Eventually (I hope this helps somebody else) I figured out the problem. I'm using Windows 7 and their input form is not compatible with Windows 7.

There's a little box on the right hand side of the URL bar at the top of the screen. It looks like a little rectangle that's been broken horizontally. It's for "compatibility view". I clicked it (it went blue) and everything worked properly.
Myer is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Glad you sorted it out!
DebitNM is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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I don't know whether to curse you or thank you.

I wonder if you went thru the same thing with AndrewsFCU. Everytime I think the process has been completed they either mail me or email me more forms to sign.

I just called them this morning and was told everything has been approved now it takes about 2 weeks to get the card as they're produced in Canada.

Maybe since they come from Canada there's a hope it will work internationally.
Myer is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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DebitM: I have a Mileage plus visa. It used to have a $60 charge, but I decided to use the Mileage Plus Explorer Visa, and the charge is now $95; however, that enables me to use the United lounge during layovers and to check a bag free. Theoretically, I'm supposed to be able to board early, too.

I'd be sure to bring an extra credit card, if I were you. On my last trip, to Spain, there were a couple of times when my card didn't work. I always carry at least two cards, so that wasn't a problem, and I could always use cash.

On our 2011 trip, my friend's ATM card didn't work at all, though she'd been to her bank and confirmed that it would work. Fortunately, I had enough in my checking account to cover her needs, so I lent her what she needed.

I even have an extra ATM card, because I'm paranoid about getting my card chewed up in a machine. For my next trip I will keep track of the pin numbers of my credit cards, too. I'd use one of them to get cash only in an emergency, because they start charging interest as soon as you get the cash.

You never can tell.
Pegontheroad is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Myer--Great job reporting back. In fact, I think you should post your discoveries and process on a new thread. We have a lot of these types of posts, so many "oldbies" like me ignore them. A new thread after you've hammered out the problems would be especially helpful to those of us who mistakenly think we are "in the know".

Let me explain--I've been using ATM and credit cards in France forever with little problem, but I never knew until today about the Andrew FCU. The Windows 7 thing was great. If you decide to do so, could you add in Debit MN's info about true Chip/PIN?

Of course you'll need a title. How about "Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks with Credit in Paris"?

--I always found it strange that AMEX, which is not widely accepted in Europe,for some reason works in Velib rental. Never made sense to me, but I can attest that my daughter rented bikes all over Paris last fall without incident.

--I happily just used a regular check card (non Visa) at ATMs and my Visa (had backups just in case for both) for years. Last year, we realized that daughter would be withdrawing from ATM regularly over her four months in Paris, so small ATM fees that we thought were not bad when one was withdrawing hundreds and hundreds of Euros at a time would make a lot of difference to a kid who wanted to withdraw merely one hundred. We opened both CapOne and Schwab banking accounts for that (again, giving her backups) and we had also opened a Cap One Visa the year before to avoid international transaction fees.

We are happy with all.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Myer, sorry you have had such troubles with the Andrews card. As I stated on my posts, I had the card within 10 days of filling in the app online [which included 2 weekends which slowed things down]. I think it will be worth you while.

I am all set - have Cap One Accounts for ATM/cash needs and Cap One for all credit card needs [we each have sep. credit card accts and sep ATM/checking accts.] We have the Andrews credit card for non-manned booths. And we have AMEX for Velib and to rent car so we get excellent insurance on rental.
DebitNM is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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I have never had a problem in ten years until this trip. Our credit union atm is not giving us money. My chase card has been declined twice but worked at one store. It was declined tonight but my credit union debit card worked. Yikes, I am at wits end. We have the Andrew Global trek card but I like having my own cards to spend what I want to spend. I have some euros left but not enough and zero pounds for our three days in the UK. I notified everyone before leaving. I am buying euro from now on. Thank God I bought enough to pay madame for the apartment in Paris!
flpab is offline  
May 4th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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DebitNM - I look forward to hearing about your experience with the Andrews card. As I've reported previously, my US Bank Flexperks Visa does work sometimes as a chip/PIN card, but not always (all fuel pumps and some tolls). It also works as a chip/signature card, and of course, it works as a swipe/signature card here in the US. There is an annual fee and they do charge a foreign transaction fee, so I would be interested in the Andrews card for future travel if it works well for you.

Of course, this may soon be moot since everyone's saying we will all be using our phones in the future for charging things and credit cards will be obsolete!
MaineGG is online now  
May 4th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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We're going to Montreal in a little under two weeks but I shouldn't have a problem there as I don't expect to do anything other than store/restaurant-type purchases.

In early June we're going to Province and Paris. I assume by then I'll have the Andrews Chip & Pin card.

I expect to buy local train tickets and if I do it as in Tuscany two years ago, I'll use machines instead of lines.

This will be a good test of the card.

I expect part of the delay might have been my doing though it shouldn't have been. For employment I wrote retired even though I'm not. I expected they would get my credit score and be happy. Well, they didn't do that. In fact, I suspect they didn't know what to do.

Eventually they were satisifed and we'll see if the card ever arrives.
Myer is offline  
May 5th, 2012, 04:14 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 57
Although I have never had any issue with credit cards or ATM in Italy, I just applied for the Capital One credit card (always planned to for the 0% foreign transaction) and ATM. I also applied for the Andrews card without any issue. My husband and I leave for France on June 27th and will be set to go. Thank you all for your input on this thread. As always, very helpful. If there are any issues with the Andrews card (I did something incorrectly), I will post.
DreamOfItalia is offline  
May 5th, 2012, 04:40 AM
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I applied for the Andrews credit card online in March. I got the message your application is being processed. I finally called them about a week later when that message wasn't changed. At tht point they explained to me, I would have to join the credit union (I had to join some organization with a frtee membership), open up an account with Andrews (I did for $5) and provide verification of income which I provided and it took about 10 days but I did get the card. I haven't been out of the country since and it would be a back up card anyway as it has a 1% foreign transaction fee....I will only use my Bank Americard rewards card, which is a successor to the Schwab credit card and of all the bank of America cards exempts you from the near criminal 3% foreign transacton fee, has no annual fee and provides a 1% rebate on all purchases (2% was the norm for the late Schwab card). I also replaced the late dear departed Schwab card with a Fidelity Amex card which also has a 2% overall rebate on everything but has two deficiencies...#1 it's an Amex which has many holes in its coverage outside the USA and 2) it has a 1% foreign currency or transaction fee, not sure of which. Of course during this quarter of the year, I am using my Chase rewards card for groceries (5% rebate on all grocery charges), my Discover card for restaurants (5% rebate on restaurants this quarter) and a card from Penn Fed for pet;rol (5% on all petrol purchases).

I feel almost like a pig rolling around in mudj with all these decisions I have to make and the way I'm able to save big time .

Indeed life can be so complicated!
xyz123 is offline  
May 5th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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My amusement with Andrews continues.

I called yesterday wondering where my card is. They told me it would take two weeks to arrive since it's made in Canada.

Well, it arrived in today's mail. I should have asked two weeks from when.

With all of the communications between them and me during this process I don't remember anything about assigning a PIN. I guess that's an important part.

I read their documentation through and no mention of the PIN. I guess I'll call on Monday.

They do mention in several places to sign the back of the card as that's part of the security process.

I always write on the back of my cards to "Ask for Id". The odd time they do ask I show picture Id. I always felt that if I sign the card anybody who finds it now has a sample of my signature.

Your experience is similar to mine except I told them I was retired as that could happen the next time I get fed up with going to work. I think that freaked them out a bit and they didn't know what to do. I figured they would check my credit score and that would satisfy them.
Myer is offline  
May 5th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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The pin should have come sep. It cannot be changed
DebitNM is offline  
May 5th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Technically, if you write ask for id on your credit card, you invalidate the card. I don't know if you've ever read any of my other posts but in USA (and yes I know not all over the world) merchant agreements, merchants while they can ask for id are not allowed to refuse a transaction for lack of id (they can ask for id if the signature on the sales slip doesn't match the signature on the credit card). Again, I understand the phobia some people have b ut having your credit card compromised is, in the scheme of things, not the worst thing in the world to deal with. You tell the credit card cmpanies which charges are not yours, they remove them from your bill and they issue a new card with a new number (it's happened to me 3 times in the last 25 years). The biggest pain is notifying those who you have contracted with to make automatic payments from your credit card of the new number, expiration date and change in ccv number but then again you have to do that every time a credit card is re-issued with a new number. OTOH, identity theft can be a real serious problem and every time you show some clerk id, there is the possibility of him or her rmemorizing say your driver's license number; match that up with a stolen credit card number and that can be real trouble.

Finally, though, it's to a certain degree in the USA at least pretty much a moot point. Rarely do they check signatures any more on the vast majority of charges. You swipe your card in the pos terminal, a sales receipt is printed sometmes they ask for a signature, other times say at the post office or at many grocery stores or many fast food places, they don't ask for a signature at all!

It's funny though. Every time I use a non chip card in the UK, the clerk makes a pretense of checking the signature. They look but never follow up as my signature is hard to read in the signature panel of the credit card.

(Before I get flamed, I know that in many countries these same rules do not hold).

The only place I have problems at home these days is at restaurants when I refuse to give the waiter my credit card. I insist that I either pay the cashier or be brought to the secret room where the card is run through the terminal (and maybe one of those hand held theft terminals too)!

Just my own friendly advice.
xyz123 is offline  

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