Visa versus MasterCard in France?

Old May 10th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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Visa versus MasterCard in France?

My longtime airline affinity card company is switching from Visa to MasterCard. I am so used to the wide acceptance of La Carte Bleue in France that I have not paid much attention to the widespread use of the other. Should I anticipate any issues?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:02 AM
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I would check on the transaction fee rate. Many of us use a Capital One card as they are the only regular cc that dows not charge a transaction fee.

Joan
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:06 AM
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Don't worry about using it in France. Some shops may not accept Amex but all of them will accept Mastercard. As a former receptionist, there was no difference for me!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:22 AM
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I used my Mastercard for almost all my purchases (except in patisseries) on my last trip, both in France and Belgium, and never had a problem.

I might investigate getting a Capital One card for my next trip though, since Joan says they don't charge a transaction fee... would be worth it!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Visa and Mastercard are identical in France, because they are in the same bank card system. Every single shop or ATM that accepts one of them will accept the other.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Just curious, what kind of logo is on Capital One? I thought, except for American Express, most credit cards either be Visa or Mastercard. I am not talking about the lesser used cards, if they still exist: Carte Blanche, Diner Club, tec.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 10:58 AM
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Almost all places that accept Visa also accept the european version of MC.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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My Cap One happens to be a MasterCard...who could also be a Visa

Joan
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Old May 10th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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gracejoan3 on May 10, 09 at 02:02 PM

Many of us use a Capital One card as they are the only regular cc that does not charge a transaction fee.


Some of us use a Schwab Investor Checking card as they issue one that does not charge a transaction fee, exchange rate markup, International Service Assessment ("Visa fee"), and also rebates out-of-network ATM fees.

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Old May 11th, 2009, 12:53 AM
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Robespierre,

Yes, I know about the "special" cards, such as Schwab. That was why I had used the word "regular". There are also some credit unions who do not charge the transaction fees.The fees do add up!

Joan
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Old May 11th, 2009, 02:01 AM
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Visa.....Mastercard.....?

Doesn't matter. Either will do.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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On one of the other threads about Atm's and such, someone who was just in France said that credit cards are only accepted if they have a chip and a pin number. I've never heard of that. Has something changed? I don't keep a record of credit card pin numbers because I don't get cash advances on them and other than that there is no other reason to have one that I know of. Is this information about chips and pin numbers true?
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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no, nothing has changed. I don't know what that other thread said, but if it claimed you could not use a credit card without a chip and pin anywhere in France, it was wrong. YOu just can't use them in certain machines, such as in the metro station, and I think self-serve gas pumps.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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ATM's accept all the cards whose logo they bear, whether or not they have a chip. Obviously, everybody uses a PIN. Someone here once said that European cards didn't have a magnetic strip on them -- boy, we would really be in trouble visiting the U.S. and quite a bit of the rest of the world if that were true!
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:53 AM
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Below is the line from the post I was referring to. Maybe I'm interpreting it incorrectly: Of course we need a pin number for the AtM card but I think that this person is referring to ordinary purchases with a credit card.

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Old May 14th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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I've stated many times that unattended/automated credit card machines at Paris metro stations, SNCF ticket machines, gas stations, many road toll boths, need a chip to get processed. US issued cards don't have chips (my wife is a 20 year Visa employee). Also, at groceries our US card is processed differently than a French person's chip card. No pin number is needed on our cards - except at an ATM machine. Our US CC has to be processed by a live person at all the above businesses (except ATMs).

If I am "incorrect" with any of these statements - please let me know.

I've only been 'stuck" (CC didn't work) and no alternatives available at an unmanned toll both late at night. Cash was not even accepted.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 14th, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Mastercard is branded Maestro in Europe. It is everywhere.

Chips are used on European bank cards (ATM cards). This allows the cards to be used as debit cards at retail stores, restaurants, train ticket machines, and such where credit cards are not accepted.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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Maestro is the electronic version of MasterCard, just like Visa Electron is the electronic version of Visa. They are not the same thing.

Many places do not accept Maestro or Visa Electron.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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I've never had problems in France with my Master Card, but I finally realized after getting home from my last trip, that not having the chip was why it didn't work in the metro. Luckily, there was a person in the ticket window.

When I was in Copenhagen a few years ago and was charging some boots for my neice, the clerk wanted a pin number. It took awhile but she finally got it that for a charge sale, we don't use pin numbers. My neice warned me that they would probably want a pin number.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:00 PM
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Hi semiMike; To make it very simple, my US Visa has never been refused in Europe [as long as you are talking to a living person]. Gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, NEVER. There is one caveat. If a person in a small clothing store/gift shop doesn't want to except a small purchase, he/she will say your Visa is 'no good'. Nothing you can do about that. It occasionally happens. iris1745/dick
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