Using a US Credit Card in France

Jun 15th, 2012, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,062
My MB branded ATM card bought us Metro tickets in an automated booth. I was also able to use it almost everywhere to get money from bank ATM's, buy items at most stores.

It did NOT work in the automated ticket machine at the train station. My Travelex (yes I know expensive) card decided not to work anymore either. The ticket line was so long the only reason we didn't miss our train is I asked a French man who successfully used the machine if he would mind buying me the two tickets (only 36E) for me, and I gave him cash. I thanked him profusely; he earned angel wings.
I don't think it would have worked in the tollbooth on A85 either, but we just dumped some coins in and didn't try it.

We would have been OK without the chip card except for the train ticket issue. They were just tickets to Vernon, and we changed our plans due to the rain, so we didn't have them ahead of time.

You can recharge the Navigo Decouverte at many ATM machines on Mondays so I suppose you could just use your regular ATM card to do that. Our local ATM's all had the Navigo recharge option come up on the screen on Monday. Pretty cool.
mowmow is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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We just got back from 6 weeks in France.

- One InterMarche grocery & its associated gas station could not take our US swipe card. Both attendants told us this as soon as we handed them the card. They said that the store switched to chip-only recently. This was near Sauternes. All the other groceries & gas stations took our swipe card - including other InterMarches.

- the first toll station on an autoroute accepted our swipe card, and the second one did not. We paid cash for the remainder of our trip. Manned toll booths are vanishing.

- One large/new/modern/popular restaurant listed in the Michelin Red Guide could not take our swipe card. One other large/local/popular restaurant couldn't either. Both were in the Haute Pyrenees. This was a first for us.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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I got back from Turkey and must report that I didn't try out the Andrews card yet. Our swipe Cap Ones and Chase Preferred worked everywhere, but I was ready to do a quick draw of the Andrews chip if I needed to.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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Stu...since you've been away you may have missed this...Bank of America has announced a whole bunch of emv, chip and signature naturally, cards. One of them is the Travel Rewards annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and equipped with emv chips. You might wish to look into it.
xyz123 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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xyz--But then we have to deal with Bank of America.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 09:52 AM
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Does anyone know how a chip/signature card would work in France?

I know that their readers can probably read a BofA chip - but how do I "sign"? The readers expect a PIN!!! I don't think it would produce paper - certainly a reader at an unmanned gas station won't, and a card reader on a Peage won't print paper to sign. If I use my swipe card at a Peage toll both I don't sign anything - perhaps a signature is not necessary. Anyone know???

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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Stu - Our US Bank Visa worked both as a chip/signature card and a chip/PIN card. When I used it in a store, for example, the card was inserted to read the chip, then a slip was printed out for signature. This was the case in Franprix and other stores. When I used it in parking garages in Troyes and Reims, I inserted it and a PIN was requested.

On another thread someone reported that they were told that their chip card defaulted to chip/signature, but would work as chip/PIN if there was no way to require a signature.

And, the card worked with neither signature nor PIN in a couple of autoroute toll machines and in all transportation ticket machines (SNCF, Transilien, RATP, RER) in both Paris and Lyon.

By the way, the card never worked at a fuel pump. Many report that non-French cards are not accepted for this purpose, even those with chips.

We continue to use our Capitol One Mastercard where accepted, but do like having the chipped card handy for when we need it.
MaineGG is online now  
Jul 25th, 2012, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Stu.....Every time I used my chip and signature Andrews FCU (for a few small purchases, the 1% foreign transaction fee is 1% more than it should be), you insert it and it tells the merchant signature required and a slip is printed the same way it would with a swipe card. In a couple of cases, the RATP machine in a Paris metro station which was unmanned and unwomanned, it worked and didn't ask for either a pin or a signature (but then again we're all used to that at fast food places, right?). As noted right above, one of the few banks that claims to be chip and pin is the Andrews one but as noted above, in every case it operted like a chip and signature card. Some claim they have sucessfully used it as chip and pin in some places in France, others claim it hasn't worked at all. Andrews claims it does default to chip and signature but if a terminal requires a pin, it will work. Can't verify that but have no reason to doubt it.

US Bank card is supposed to also be chip and signature. I won't quibble with the person above but the cash advance pin is supposed to be irrelevant and maybe any four digit number will work.

It almost seems that the USA banks have decided that it is necessary to introduce emv cards to satisfy the demands of their customers but apparently hve decided they will be going with chip and signature.
xyz123 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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Thanks all

I'll continue with my Cap One card in Europe because I get double miles with it. The few cases I've encountered where it will not work is:
- a very small % of groceries & gas stations
- a very small % of restaurants
- Toll roads
- unmanned/unwomaned gas stations.

The latter is my biggest concern - but if MainGG is correct, a US chip card won't work there. I might avoid some lines at toll booths, but the CC only lines at the toll booths I encountered the past 6 weeks were just as long as the cash/CC lines. The "fast track" lines were short, however.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 11:48 PM
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The biggest drag are the toll booths because you never know how much you need to throw in the basket until you get to the booth, then have to fumble for change. Last night was a perfect example, coming back on the A8 from Monaco to Juan les Pins after midnight and trying to see in the dark the change needed!
Surfergirl is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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I was in France a month ago.

The Andrews Chip & PIN card defaults to Chip & Signature if the vendor accepts it. Otherwise it is programmed to be Chip & PIN.

In restaurants I used it 5 times just to see what would happen. Three times it went to Signature and twice is went to PIN.

However, at the ticket vending machine in train stations, where there is no ticket clerk unless you wait in line, the card went to PIN every time and worked exactly as it should.

In Paris I wanted to buy a pack of 10 Metro tickets. It wouldn't take my regular card but did take my Andrews Chip & PIN card (but with no signature).

So when it had to it worked as we wanted it to work.
Myer is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 03:02 AM
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Myer....did you use the card at the toll booths on the autoroutes? Or at the bycycle rental places? Or at an unmanned or unwomanned gas pump?

Just curious.
xyz123 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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>US Bank card is supposed to also be chip and signature. I won't quibble with the person above but the cash advance pin is supposed to be irrelevant and maybe any four digit number will work.

xyz123 - I'll have to try some random numbers next time I use this card and it asks for a PIN. Won't have the chance until next spring, though.

Myer - When I used the US Bank card in ticket machines, they never required a PIN. You say that one was required when you used them. Could it be possible that the Andrews card is truly a chip/PIN card and the US Bank card isn't? I wonder what happens when French chip/PIN cards are used in these machines. Is a PIN required or not?
MaineGG is online now  
Jul 30th, 2012, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 6,110

Definitely looking into this.
TPAYT is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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Andrews FCU no longer charges 1% for either VISA card purchase OR for ATM withdrawals from bank account.

We are presently in France and have been using the card quite a bit.

The Andrews card has worked great - needing the pin when using a machine when no one is present.Sometimes having to sign when the card was inserted into the card reader and clerk handed paper slip to me to sign. It worked in unmanned gas stations, to pay for unmanned parking. It worked for train tickets from machine. It didn't not work for toll on one expressway, but did work at another toll booth.It didn't work for some reason at 2 different InterMarche stores, but did at all other stores.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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That's good news to learn it actually works, as it does look good in the terms (if anyone can get it, which I understand they can if they join some assn that is free). Although my only need would ever really be some train ticket machines in France, but it would be nice for that. I don't care about gas stations as I have no trouble getting gas at a manned both (and don't do that much anyway), and I can always find a machine in the Paris metro system that takes cash for tickets there. Actually, the train ticket machine in Lyon took my regular American un-chipped credit card with no problem, and I've heard they do at CDG, also.

I just got back from a trip to France and Spain and never had a single problem anywhere using my regular unchipped American credit cards, no place of business refused them, even small family run restaurants, etc. It didn't work in the SNCF ticket machines, though, as I tried just to see.
Christina is offline  
Oct 14th, 2012, 04:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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On our 6 week trip to France (Pyrenees) in June/July, about 2 restaurants, 2 large grocery stores, and a couple of manned gas stations did/would not accept our swipe card. It did not work in a few toll roads either. These "refusals" were more than we encountered on our combined 25 months in France in the past 12 years.

Things are changing. I'm getting a chip/pin card for our next trip to Europe.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 14th, 2012, 05:04 PM
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