Using Credit Cards Overseas Roundup
April 10, 2011
If you read about the British Airways card free flight offer yesterday and were thinking of using your card on your trip you might be interested in an email I recieved from a reader named JT.
About a month ago after we covered the features of the American Express Expresspay cards, I got an email from JT that suggested I cover a new type of credit card technology. Here’s what he said:
“I guess the AE Expresspay card is convenient, but what would be much more convenient is adoption in the US of chip and PIN cards, what they now have in Europe. It is getting harder and harder for travelers to Europe to use American-style magnetic stripe cards, and the AE Expresspay card, with an RFID device, is unheard of there. How about advocating a switch to chip and PIN cards instead?”
Chip and PIN
I haven’t traveled to Europe in a while so I wasn’t aware of this new technology. I did some research and it looks like Chip and PIN cards are a new smartcard that have been rolled out in England and other European countries.
They don’t rely only on the magnetic strip and the signature of the card owner to process and approve the transaction. Instead, the system uses a chip in your card and a PIN number that you enter to prove that you’re an authorized user of the card.
It sounds like the changes were made in an effort to reduce credit card fraud, which had become a major issue in Europe. Policies were changed to pass the liability of fraudulent transactions onto the bank, so banks made a big push to have consumers begin using the Chip and PIN system.
Credit Cards Overseas
I wrote JT back asking if he could go into a little more detail about the problems he’s experienced with his card in Europe and if he’s ever seen Chip and PIN in the US. He was actually overseas when he got my email, on the start of another European trip. Here’s what his experience has been:
“It is still possible for Americans and others with magnetic stripe credit cards to use them, but only in attended locations. That is, when you’re faced with train ticket vending machines, automated highway toll booths, and automated gas station, you better have cash as these machines are almost exclusively chip & PIN, especially in France and Germany.
And in today’s increasing automation, it’s harder and harder to find attended locations — that is, real live agents at service windows. I haven’t run into any problems yet, having arrived in Europe just yesterday on this trip, but I’m glad I’m aware of this barrier for Americans.
I have heard that one credit union open to UN employees in New York offers chip and PIN credit cards, but am not aware of other US institutions. I hope more banks in the US start to offer them, as I cannot conceive of the lack of universality — once again, the US falls behind in technology.”
Not being able to use your credit card would be a little different than I’m used to. There are some stores that don’t accept credit cards, mostly local businesses, because credit card fees eat into their profits. Usually I don’t notice they don’t take credit until I get up to the register and then have to dig through my wallet to see if I have any cash.
There have been a few cases like this when I ended up leaving the store without what I was there to buy since I didn’t have any cash. It’s never been a big deal, just kind of inconvenient. However, if you were overseas and counting on your credit card to work – but then weren’t able to use it – that could be a big problem. So, if you are traveling to Europe, make sure to bring some extra cash along in case you encounter a place that only takes Chip and PIN.
Has anyone else experienced issues using their credit cards overseas? Is so be sure to share what you learned in the comment section. Finally, here are some personal finance articles from this week that you might want to check out.
- 4 Ways to Increase Your Income in 2011 @ Generation X Finance
- 7 things you don’t want to skimp on @ Brip Blap
- Are the Joneses Keeping You Broke? @ Free Money Finance
- How to Make Money From Your Hobbies @ Moolanomy
- Who’s Wiser In Spending Money? @ Studenomics
- How Much Time Is It Worth? @ Money Crush
- Life As A Landlord – Lessons Learned @ PF Firewall
- Millionaire Next Door Review @ Eventual Millionaire
- 5 Tips for Selecting a Financial Planner @ Couple Money
- What is Your Debt Actually Costing You? @ Personal Finance By The Book
- Where to Find Financial Advice? Not Your Brokerage Firm @ The Oblivious Investor
- Tax Strategies and Tips @ Lazy Man & Money
- How to Appeal the IRS Garnish of My Wages @ My Dollar Plan
- How to Determine The Taxes on Bonus Pay @ Good Financial Cents
- Tax Preparation Checklist @ PT Money
- Handy List of Common Tax Deductions @ Bible Money Matters
- The All You Can Eat Food Buffet: Is It Worth Your Money? @ The Digerati Life
- What is the Cheapest Thing You’ve Ever Done? @ Million Dollar Journey
- 15 Things Our Grandparents Lived Without @ Frugal Dad
- 5 Ways to Save Money After Your Baby Is Born @ The Money Crashers
- 99 Cent Pricing Strategy @ Canadian Finance Blog
- Frugal Exercise Routines @ Sweating The Big Stuff
- 20 Ideas for a Cheaper Night Out @ Well Heeled
Thanks to Funny About Money and Money Beagle for including my posts in the Carnival of Personal Finance. Also to Kay Bell for including Online Brokerages Tax Software & Training in the latest Carnival of Taxes!
All posts by Ben Edwards