Tag Archives: france

A credit-card-savvy travelers guide to France, Italy

Martin Merzer

You’ve bought the airline tickets, found a few charming hotels (breakfast included), and decided that you’d really rather not drive if you can possibly avoid it, thank you very much.

Now, comes the hard part: Figuring out how to use your U.S. credit and debit cards during your European vacation or business trip. Setting aside most of the technical mumbo-jumbo (“Chip and PIN card? What’s a chip and PIN card?"), here’s a real-time primer for real people.

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Americans need chip-and-PIN cards for overseas travel

Emily Crone

Nearly two years ago, I blogged on this site about some of the financial challenges I faced while on a two-week trip in Europe. Other than pay toilets and the large minimum amount required to use a credit card, an issue I frequently encountered in France was the lack of acceptance of American credit cards on the metro ticket machines.

Chip-and-PIN credit cards feature an additional layer of security. They work differently from the traditional magnetic swipe cards; rather than being swiped, they are inserted into a reader and the user enters a PIN number, much like they would for a debit card. They are so secure and widespread in Europe that, if you use an old-school swipe card there, they heavily scrutinize you.

Jim at NetBanker has a recent blog post about this very topic. He discusses the modern Velib bike-sharing program in Paris, which allows anyone to rent a bike through automated, unmanned kiosks across the city. You can subscribe for 5 euros a week or 29 euros annually, and that gives you the first 30 minutes of any ride free (and then it begins charging you hourly). The catch? They only accept credit cards and debit cards, and you guessed it — they only take chip-and-PIN cards. He suggests a new product that would allow financial institutions to capitalize on this need.

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