Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chip and Pin Credit Cards Making U.S. Cards Obsolete

In preparing for an upcoming trip, I've been doing a lot of reading about European credit cards that have an embedded computer chip and are used with a PIN.

Currently European ATMs work fine with just the magnetic strip (the cards we get in the U.S.). However, more and more automatic machines (like for train tickets) are only accepting cards that have the chip. And also there are more and more shops that are only accepting cards with the chip.

While, currently, this is not an issue for purchases with major sellers to travelers, such as hotels, I think all international travelers should have an alternative to using their U.S. credit card. Whether it is taking more cash, or bringing travelers checks, or simply having more cash available through an ATM, a backup plan to credit card use might be a good thing to think about.

U.S. credit cards becoming outdated, less usable abroad


Kevin Maher said...

We have planned our first cruise in October. It happens to be a Western Mediterranean cruise with ports of call in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. We plan to take some Euros with us and had hoped to pay for incidentals and any shopping with a Chase Mastercard that does NOT have the new smart chip and PIN. What are we to do in locations that need that technology? the tips at the end of the article linked to your post seem to be good but I don't speak anything other than English. Will I have problems in Florence or Athens for example?

diane said...

Based upon the information I have, the U.S. cards with a a magnetic strip should still work at stores. It just requires a bit more effort on the part of the sales clerk as there are specific instructions that appear on the device screen that have to be followed. As for very up to date information (as of last week), I know for a fact that a credit card without the chip was refused by one storekeeper in Belgium. Also in Belgium, it took several tries to find an ATM machine that would work without the chip.