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Using U.S. Credit Cards and ATM Cards in France

Using U.S. Credit Cards and ATM Cards in France

Mar 2nd, 2011, 06:08 PM
  #1  
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Using U.S. Credit Cards and ATM Cards in France

Based on what I read from different posts, I just want to double check with experienced travelers the use of U.S. credit cards and ATM card in France. Please correct me if I am wrong. Is it true that ATM cards without chip issued by a local bank in U.S. can still be used in all ATM machines in France ? Also, are U.S. credit cards without chip still accepted for purchases except at the toll booth, gas station, and ticket machines? Your confirmation will help ease my mind. I appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance.
thefengs is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 06:26 PM
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I've never had a problem using credit cards in Europe, except as you mentioned. I'm from the US, been to The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, and Greece, no problems.
Challiman is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 06:26 PM
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Yes.
Michael is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 06:30 PM
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Yes.

ATM cards from US banks can be used in ATMs in France.

"All" may be stretching it, that depends on your bank and the ATM you're using. Sometimes people report that their ATM card did not work in a certain ATM for whatever reason. But an ATM card using the proper network is usable in France ATMs.

Credit cards from US banks (none of which have a chip afaik) can be used in France, too -- but as you already know, not in machines or anywhere there is not a person to swipe the magnetic strip. And when I say "credit cards from US banks" that means visa/mc. Amex is accepted at fewer places (the same is true in the US), and Discover is not accepted anywhere ime. And some smaller places still want cash.
cheryllj is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 07:16 PM
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there in December and no problems with ATM or credit cards...one pharmacy at first gave me the keypad to enter my PIN and as soon as I looked at her she realized and printed a receipt for me to sign...worry about something else...you'll be fine
denisea is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 07:49 PM
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We had no problem whatsoever using atms in France or anywhere else in Europe for that matter for over three months. Just keep some euros on you at all times just in case you card doesn't work. I agree with denisea, don't worry about it.
michele_d is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 07:54 PM
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Thanks to you all for the confirmation. I feel better already. Thanks a lot.
thefengs is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:14 PM
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That's what we're here for.
michele_d is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 10:12 PM
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Not being able to use a U.S. credit card on a SNCF train ticket machine always makes me mad. I see long lines at ticket counters and empty SNCF ticket machines, and I have to wait in line to use my magnetic strip only CC. I don't know if there are SNCF ticket machines that take bills. I have only seen ones that take coins, and of course, I rarely carry enough coins to be able to buy two €14.00 tickets.
greg is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 10:32 PM
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The new generation of ticket machines takes banknotes.
kerouac is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 04:03 AM
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I've used ticket machines in Paris that took banknotes, even in the metro stations
avalon is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 05:31 AM
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Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 06:45 AM
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ParisAmsterdam is correct --
(1) you MUST notify bank & CC companies of your Usage plans or your accounts will be "frozen" because they suspect theft. Don't just say y ou are going to use your ATM card to withdraw in "france." Say Europe. A friend of mine said she'd be withdrawing funds in Greece. Then, during a Frankfurt connection, she needed a few bills & used it in the Frankfurt airport ... and BANG! account frozen. Took frantic phone calls etc to unfreeze.

(2) Another proviso --
Ask your bank to raise the daily withdrawal limit (usually $500) to $750 or more... this is not because you plan to use $750 in cash daily... it is so that you can go infrequently to an ATM.

FINALLY -- Think carefully about your credit card usage. Here in the USA, we now use our credit cards constantly -- for gas, groceries, drugstore items, pizza etc -- especially if we pay off our balance monthly. In that way we incur no interest costs and we build up those precious "reward points" or "frequent-flier points." These usually accrue at the rate of about 1% to 1.5%. So every $7,000+ you get $100 credit or rebate or whatever.

This kind of advantage does NOT apply to Credit card use abroad. Almost every single card (except the super-platinum type tht charge a hefty annual fee), every "ordinary" credit card charges you 3% of any charge overseas. That's right. 3%. So if you pay a hotel bill equivalent of $300, that's really $309.

I see 2 reasons therefore to use a CC and incur this egregious & greedy charge:

(A) You reallly don't have quite enough $$ to pay for your trip, so you're charging some of your expenses in order to pay back on the installment plan ... or
(B) You are purchasing something quite substantial (important jewelry, art, Oriental Rug?) and want the protection of being able to block payment if your product is unsatisfactory.

... many people say, I don't care, I'll charge because I get those reward points. Check out the percentage. If your "reward point" percentage is 1%, and the charge fee is 3%, you are making a gift to your CC-issuer of 2%. That's your privilege but you should know you are doing this.
travelerjan is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 06:57 AM
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Two more points:

1. Very occasionally I've had trouble withdrawing money from an ATM machine in rural France on a Sunday morning. I think there's some international bank-to-bank accounting or something going on at that time. Always cleared up a bit later in the day.

2. Use bank ATM machines, not private ones, preferably when the bank itself is open so you can go inside if something should go wrong with your transaction.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 07:04 AM
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To the OP: All I can say is that I have pretty much zero problems using my American credit cards anywhere in Europe, including France. I simply tell the clerk, at the beginning of the transaction, that it doesn't have a PIN. If you do that, and keep a bit of cash for things like transport tickets, you should be fine.

... many people say, I don't care, I'll charge because I get those reward points. Check out the percentage. If your "reward point" percentage is 1%, and the charge fee is 3%, you are making a gift to your CC-issuer of 2%. That's your privilege but you should know you are doing this.

Those that are properly using their rewards cards (and resulting points) receive a better percentage than 1%. I easily beat a 3% return with my SPG Amex - my usual redemptions would be in the 4% to 6% range, and I have managed up to 10% on occasion. Frankly, if you are only getting a 1% return on your rewards card, then you probably should be reconsidering your card choice, and focus on the lowest possible fees.

I see 2 reasons therefore to use a CC and incur this egregious & greedy charge:

There is also the issue of convenience and the reduced risk of loss.
travelgourmet is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 07:12 AM
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Agree with trying to use bank ATM machines, inside the bank if possible. Less chance of your information being stolen. After our trip to Germany in September of 09 our CC information was stolen and we then had charges from Brazil. The CC company was alert and picked up on the charges as we had informed them of our trip to Germany. Very important to tell your CC company where you will be [as previously suggested].
iris1745 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 05:31 PM
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Re above
"Almost every single card (except the super-platinum type tht charge a hefty annual fee), every "ordinary" credit card charges you 3% of any charge overseas. That's right. 3%. So if you pay a hotel bill equivalent of $300, that's really $309."

This is not quite true -- Capital One is one card that offers no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, reward-earning, options.
nyse is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 05:58 PM
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And, for the nth time, use a credit union. In my experience credit cards from credit unions have no yearly fee and do not charge 3%. They pass on the system 1% over the interbank rate. I have 2 such credit cards. And now my Chase BA mileage card doesn't charge 3% either, though it does have a yearly fee.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 06:39 PM
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Capitol One, Schwab One, TD Bank, Navy FCU, and a host of smaller banks and credit unions will not charge the 3% international transaction charge, in fact they charge nothing at all. It´s foolish and completely unnecessary to pay international service charges.
Sarastro is offline  
Mar 4th, 2011, 11:53 AM
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Just "seconding" what others are saying. There are many cards that don't charge 3%. Some only pass on the standard VISA/MC network 1%, and some absorb that 1% and charge nothing. Shop around.
PaulHahn is offline  

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