Using debit card in France

Oct 15th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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Using debit card in France

How easy is it to use a debit card in France instead of using a credit card or carrying lots of cash? My bank does not charge a fee for using debit card internationally but credit card is 3% of purchase.
ImGrammy is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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You should NEVER use a credit card to get cash from an ATM. Your credit card will begin charging you a high finance charge as soon as you make the withdrawal. It will be considered a loan, which is treated differently than a charge.

Most use their regular credit cards for charging large amounts and use their debit cards to obtain cash directly from their checking account. Through all reviews of the options, this seems to be the least exensive method for most people.
ellenem is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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Hi Grammy,
To give you the other side of the coin, I don't possess any credit cards so only use debit cards whilst in France (two or three times a year).

Never had a single problem either withdrawing cash or paying in stores. Hope this helps.
Jay_G is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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Hi IG,

In general, your debit card will be accepted as readily as a CC.

There are places, auto rental for example, where they want a CC not a debit card.

Why not get a CapitalOne CC? No conversion fee.

ira is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:49 AM
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Back up! Use your Debit/Check card to draw cash from Your local/home checking (sometimes savings) account. Use your Credit Cards to pay for purchases. Pay the Credit Card bill on time and no cost will be incurred except a foreign exchange conversion percentage. That usual fee/cost is currently 3%. The ATM use fee for your Debit/Check use varies. I pay $2 each time I use an ATM machine and my Debit/Check Card and 1% of the amount withdrawn. The currency conversion rate will be slightly over the Daily Rate. These charges show up monthly as three entries on my bank statement for each transaction.

ATM/Debit/Visa Fees 1% of W/D (in $s)
Other Bank ATM W/D $ Amount W/D
Service Charge $2
GSteed is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:08 AM
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I don't see why someone has to use their credit card over a debit card if they want to...
except for:
- large purchases (c.c. has better consumer protection)
- where a debit card isn't accepted
therefore you should travel with a credit card but feel free to use a debit card for meals, hotels, ATM, etc.
Travelnut is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 06:10 AM
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All that counts in France is the logo (VI, MC, etc.). Nobody cares if it is attached to a debit or credit card.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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I agree with kerouac - nobody knows/cares if it's a debit or credit card. We vacation in Europe (mainly France) two months each year and we only use our Morgan Stanley Debit Card. We use it at groceries, gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, etc.

It does not charge any transaction fee, and only a 1% currency conversion fee - I don't know if this is the Mastercard 1% or if Morgan Stanley has added the 1% on top of Mastercards 1% (I suspect the latter). I also use it to get cash at and ATM, and there is no transaction fee and no currency conversion fee. I also get "miles" with the debit card, but I have not redeemed any yet, so I don't now how it compares with other FF programs.

I get full consumer protection with the card - plus lots of other travel benefits (31 day CDW for car rentals, health care help, evacuation, etc).

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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Your debit card will work fine - except for some specific things like unattended gas stations, ticket machines in train stations (but they will work at the ticket windows), and some car rental agencies.

If you aren't renting a car - really nothing to worry about. (I'd never want to rent a car using a debit card anyway - it could tie up your entire cash reserve)
janisj is online now  
Oct 16th, 2007, 04:49 AM
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Thanks to all you guys who responded re: my question about using debit card. I feel much better about it and am quite excited about my trip to France. I leave in 10 days (with my daughter and granddaughter) and it will be my first trip abroad.
ImGrammy is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Another bit: Charging a purchase with a Credit Card allows up to about 30 days before the bill needs payment! Charging or rather, paying, with a Debit/Check Card causes an instantaneous withdrawal from your checking account.
GSteed is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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If you use a debit card for accommodation you may find that a rather large part of your funds is locked out by the hotel just in case you skip town or mess up the room

For that reason alone it's a very good idea to have a CC

BTW which bank is it as it's unusual for US banks to do anything for free
alanRow is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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Alan, LOL. So true.
georgiegirl is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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We used a debit card for an account that I opened specifically for our trip to Paris. I don't recall having any issues with it. It was handy because we didn't have to carry large quantiites of money with us while we visited different museums/sites.
ilovetulips is offline  
Oct 16th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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Alan, I imagine your question about 'which bank' is directed at the OP, but I can also say that Compass Bank does not charge out-of-network fees for ATMs. They pass on the Visa 1% for ATM use (and 2% for purchases). A hotel isn't going to put a hold on your debit card if you are paying the final bill. At least, it hasn't been a problem for me.

GSteed, while delaying the payment for larger travel expenses works for most people, for others it is best to work out of available cash saved for the purpose. Anyone trying to lose weight who says, 'ok, one more pain au chocolat isn't going to hurt - I can walk it off later' knows what I mean.
Travelnut is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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Nobody mentioned security isssues in this discussion.
There's a big difference in CC and debit cards in terms of security. We never use our debit cards outside of several local businesses except at an ATM to obtain local currencies. We have never had a problem in Europe doing that. My wife's lost debit card (in the Czech Republic) was reported immediately. There had already been an unsucessful attempt to use it at the airport. We have several times lost credit cards, but as far as we know no attempt to use them was made. Only last week my son's debit card was compromised even though he had not left the country, nor lost his card. Someone was able to get $3500 out of his bank account with just the numbers.

Are we just unlucky? Maybe, but we do not use debit cards for credit cards, nor vice versa. We are thinking of asking our banks to replace our debit cards (also useable as credit cards) with cards which are only debit cards (requiring PINs for all transactions) or maybe even cards which are only for ATM use. You can't be too careful. I believe that theft by credit/debit card is worse in Europe than it is here.
wcmll is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Merchants have to pay a fee for the privilege of your using a credit card (and, I believe, a debit card).

Many (particularly small) merchants will offer a discount for cash, but you have to ask for it.

So if you are really economizing, it would make sense to draw cash from an ATM and pay for everything in cash, rather than using either card.

The trade-off, of course, is that if you are carrying a large amount of cash and are robbed, your money is gone; if your plastic is stolen, there are pretty good protections so you suffer an inconvenience, but no monetary loss.

My personal preference is to use a credit card for purchases; my bank adds no charge to the 1% network fee, and I like being able to pay over time without penalty, as when I charge something today, but don't have to pay until November or even December.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 10:09 PM
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Most merchants in France pay a commission of 0.65 to 0.85% to their bank for accepting Visa and MasterCard, so I personally would be very suprised if they gave a discount for cash payment instead of using those cards. The French commission for bank cards is reputedly the lowest in the world and was brought about by the rapid generalization of the chip & pin cards in France 15 years ago, which greatly reduced fraud.

American Express and Diners have a significantly higher commission, so there is room for margin there.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 11:20 PM
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Grammy, Make sure you check that your PIN number for your debit card is exactly FOUR digits.. Everything is set up in France for entering only four digits (****) and if you PIN is longer, you are not going to be able to get money from an ATM.

roussillon is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 11:26 PM
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Plenty of ATMs accept 6 digits.
kerouac is offline  

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