Visa versus MasterCard in France?

Old May 14th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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I don't think the PIN is a charge or debit thing. I have a Master Card debit card & it's processed the same way as my Master Card charge card. The French guy (with a chip card) in front of us at the grocery, inserts his card into a machine and enters a PIN. We hand our card to the cashier, she swipes it using a different machine, my wife signs the slip, & gives it back to the cashier - no PIN.

I think it's a France chip vs a USA non-chip thing.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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The technology being referred to is called chip and pin...the UK began rquiring that UK banks issuing credit and debit cards with the exception of some handicapped people be required to be chip and pin. Chip and pin has been in place in France for a while (the chips have been made compatible with the British ones). As I understand it, the eu will begin requiring all credit cards issued in the eu to be chip and pin in the foreseeable future. Canadian banks are also beginning to require chip and pin cards.

Hm...that leaves one backward country not going the chip and pin route. I wonder who that is. Actually, frankly, many of the chip and pin cards have been compromised anyway by the verminrunning these credit card theft rings and as noted, they all have to contain a magnetic strip for use in some of the backward countries not using chip and pin.

The visa and mc regs require that all mc and visa cards be accepted whether they are chip and pin or magnetic strip or whatever. Usually there rarely is a big problem in places where tourists tread although I referred to one store I frequent in London (a convenience store) where the clerks insist they have to first put the card in the chip and pin terminal. The problem with that is that because of the location of the reader, the signature panel starts to be worn off and in the UK, unlike the USA, clerks are very meticulous about checking the signatures on credit cards (for our american friends her,e just think of the last time a clerk in a store ever checked the signature on a credit card...it's probably the other side of never)....

It has been my conjecture that the American banks, in deep deep trouble as it is, have done studies and found the costs of converting to chip and pin would outweigh the advantages as chip and pin does nothing about the major source of credit card fraud i.e. on the internet. So I don't think you will see chip and pin in the USA in the near future.

But as noted, the USA ancient cards are perfectly valid everywhere visa and mc are taken djespite what some clerks might tell you. Visa and mc are certainly not going to do anything to dry up the American market, now will they?
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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My expeience is the same as iris.

There is another popular "no good" ploy:
The merchant pays a higher transaction rate to his bank if the card has to be manually entered vs. swiped by a machine (higher chance of fraud with manually entered transactions). If the machine is old or your card is a little tattered & worn & the swipe doesn't work - the merchant may claim that the card is "no good" instead of manually entering the number. This has happened to us a couple of times.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 14th, 2009, 02:47 PM
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iris1745,
There are more businesses in Europe which do not accept credit cards than do accept them, from 3 star restaurants in Paris to luggage lockers in Haarlem. A European bank chip card works almost everywhere.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Gee - I guess I'm lucky.

In the almost 2 years total we've spent in France & Italy in the last 10 years, I don't recall more than about 2-3 restaurants that we've dined at, that did not accept my credit card (no chip). We stay in Gites-de-France places, and every gite that was rented through the 'central" rental office, took my credit card. All our train tickets were purchased on my credit card, along with car rentals. 100% of the hotels where we've stayed have accepted my credit card. 100% of the grocery stores, France Telecom offices, watch repair facilities, camera shops, wine shops, butchers, SFR shops, fabric shops, etc. have accepted my credit card when offered. Many vendors at farmer's markets take credit cards.

I would like to use the CC on toll roads and unattended gas stations (on Sundays & during the lunch break) but only a chip card works. At Paris Metro stations, I can't use the automated machines with my CC - I use cash (never tried to hand my CC to the attendent).

All & all, I'm guessing that 99.5% of the places where I've wanted to pay with a CC, have taken it.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 14th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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I have had no trouble with my "dumb" card. I went to all kinds of restaurants, grocery stores etc...no problem..used it for this past month and last fall for a month and also in Dec. for two weeks. I also used it when in Provence for the few days quick trip...

Joan
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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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Hi Stu; I would just say that CC'S are taken on toll roads with attendants at the toll booth. Always take M/C or Visa. Same at gas stations. We only fill up when there is an attendant availible. As far as the CC debate, American's have NO PROBLEM in Europe, as you and many others have stated, with their CC. That does not mean there are restaurants/hotels that do not take CC'S. Our experience from Latvia to Portugal and every country in between, they are few and far between. SemiMike--where are you? You have NO PROBLEM. iris1745/dick
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Old May 14th, 2009, 08:55 PM
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>>Hi Stu; I would just say that CC'S are taken on toll roads with attendants at the toll booth. Always take M/C or Visa. Same at gas stations. We only fill up when there is an attendant availible.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:20 PM
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The toll booths use the magnetic strip on the cards, not the chip. I used to use my American Express card on the autoroute all the time, and it certainly does not have a chip. And my parents would use their American Visa cards as well.

I got rid of my Amex card, but I still use my chipless Monoprix credit card at the tolls when I don't feel like using my Visa card.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:37 AM
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In '06 we were traveling from the Alps to the Puy du Dome region on the freeway. I had read on Fodors that people were having success using their US credit card to pay at automated machines at non-attended toll boths - so we tried it. It worked fine. A litle while later, we tried it again - using the same card. It did NOT work. We tried differenct cards - still didn't work. People were lined up behind us & honking their horns. An attendent at one of the manned boths got out of the booth, walked over to our booth & took our money & let us on our way. Needless to say, that was the last time we intentionally tried to use our card at an un-attended toll both.

Just last year we were returning to our Gite in the Franche Comte around midnight after dinner. Our gite was just off a minor freeway exit. We had paid cash at the attended booth many times already by then. This time there was no attendent there. We tried our creit card - didn't work. We tried several other cards (debits & credits) - still didn't work. I don't believe there was anyplace to insert cash. I got out of the car & manually lifted up the restraining arm - hoping I would not break it. My wife drove under it while I held it up.

We have never handed our card to an attendent to process - maybe this works. We always pay in cash on toll roads. Like I stated earlier, at groceries a completly different type of machine is used on our card than is used on the French chip card. Maybe the attendent has both types of machines available to him inside the booth.

Our track record is not good - 1 out of three.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Hi Stu; Last September, on the toll roads in France, we used our CC'S exclusively to pay the toll with an attendant. Never a problem. There was a previous post last year with a lot of confusion, saying that a 'chip' was needed to pay. Others saying there was no problem. It worked for us with our American CC. The most trying part was too make sure we could see someone in the booth. I hope I never have to life up the 'restraining arm'. That is a problem. iris1745/dick P.S We are in San Mateo on the 15th of August and San Francisco on the 5th of August. GTG anyone?
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:29 AM
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It is extremely rare, but it has happened to us more than once in France -- "No we don't take Mastercard, but we do take VISA". Some experts may insist that isn't true since they are the same banking system, but when you have been specifically denied the use of a Mastercard and then used Visa instead, then you will know that it CAN and DOES (very rarely) happen.

The last time I mentioned this I was called a liar, by a Paris "expert". I assure you I have no reason to lie about it. Perhaps the server or manager was in error, as they COULD have taken the MC, but that doesn't mean they DID or WOULD.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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Hi Patrick; Similar things have happened to us in Europe. I think in both France and Italy. Usually, it's a small purchase and the merchant does not want to 'except' the commission charged by Visa or M/C. So he says the CC is 'no good'. We just dump the item in front of the register and walk out. Your case is a little different and it's difficult to understand when the merchant tells you one is excepted and the other isn't. Strange things happen and when someone is not fluent in the language, it is tough. But, no one should question the veracity of your comment. iris1745/dick
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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iris, I think you missed my point. I agree that some shops or places may not want to take either card, but I'm talking about them willingly taking VISA but insisting that they won't take MasterCard.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Hi Patrick; Respectfully, I understood what you were saying. I think I got cought up in our experience. But if you read down to where it says, 'your case is different', I think that is where I referred to your 'point'. No problem iris1745/dick
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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The Chinese supermarket in my neighborhood has a big sign that says it will not accept any Visa or MasterCard that is chipless and requires a signature. This is obviously against the rules, just as the shops in the United States that demanded ID when I used a card. Either you accept it or you don't. Of course you can always write a letter of complaint. Most people don't, but I am one of the rare people who does, EVERY time.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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kerouac...

I got flamed here when I made those points. Of course, apparently there are different rules in different countries. My point then was a store should have a sign explaining things like it has a minimum for use of a credit card or it surcharges for use of a credit card (both of which are illegal in the USA according to mc and visa) although these same consumer protections don't apparently exist at least in the UK. I will say this, though, London has become much more like the USA where credit cards are taken almost everywhere and usually, thought not always, there is no minimum purchase required.

We also went through why mc/visa have rules that while a merchant can ask for id for using a credit card, they cannot refuse to carry out a mc/visa transaction if a person presents a properly signed card. I still run into this somewhat and every time somebody asks for ID, I pull out the mc rule even if they try to tell me requesting ID is for my protection. Giving other info other than your signature can lead to serious problems in terms of identity theft whereas fraudulent use of a credit card, while disconcerting, is a very manageable problem.

Oh well, I guess that makes 2 of us against the rest of the world!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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iris
All my CC experiences were with automated non-attendant toll booths.

From what you've stated, it seems like the "swipe" US card does work fine if there is an attendant. That's good to know. I hate getting behind someone trying to pay with a CC - so we always pay cash. It's a good way to get rid of the loose change.

If my CC would work 100% of the time at the automated non-attendant machines, I would use them and get through the toll boths faster. But my wife does all the driving and she does not want to go through the "won't work" thing again and have people honking at us in line and the attendant having to come over & rescue us. BTW, there seems to be no way to get back your toll ticket & get in another line with an attendant present.

We'll be home on the 5th & 15th.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 15th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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We had very few problems with our MC in France last year.

We did get told that the card didn't work after a "failed" swipe attempt, then paid with cash only to find out later that the card was charged. This was at a musuem in Marseilles...man was I p/o'd when I got the bill.

Some places did have problems with their phone lines, and couldn't get a connection. Always be prepared to pay with cash...That happended to us in quite a few boutiques and one restaurant.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 12:09 PM
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both of which are illegal in the USA according to mc and visa

Xyz123, policies that companies decide are not the same as laws, so "illegal" is not the correct word. A lot of people confuse that, in Europe just as much as in the US. Working for an airline, I am faced with that very often when people say that certain things are "illegal" according to IATA regulations, forgetting that IATA is just an airline association and not a lawmaking body.

It is for this reason that a lot of merchants "get away" with breaking the rules. They are not breaking any laws at all -- they are just flouting merchant agreements that the signed. And yes, they could be taken to court for that if anybody bothered to do so. That is unfortunately rare, but understandable. It just isn't worth the effort most of the time.
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