Please sign in to post.

PIN number for credit cards in London, Europe in general

I was doing some research about purchasing currency ahead of time and use of credit and debit cards in Europe. I ran across a site that had the following information stating that PINs are often necessary for credit cards in England and Europe in general. I could not tell how recent the information was so I was wondering if anyone has experienced this. Thanks

Using a credit card overseas can be a great convenience, but in England, as in much of Europe, credit card transactions are often accompanied by the need to enter your personal ID number, or PIN. This is standard for debit cards in the United States, but not with credit cards. Before traveling to London, obtain a PIN for any credit card you plan to use.

Posted by
15471 posts

Do a search on "Chip & Pin" credit cards both in this website or even Google. Lots of info about it.

Basically in Europe all credit cards are Chip & PIN. basically you need to enter a PIN, instead of signing them. In the US it's still "magnetic stripe and signature". Effective Oct. 2015 in the US cards will need to be with a CHIP instead of magnetic stripe. However most issuers have chosen the Chip and Signature option, rather than Chip and Pin.

Your US credit card will be accepted in Europe in all "in person" transactions, when you have to sign in front of a living human. The only problem is if you need to use an automatic vending machine (like purchasing train ticket at an automatic kiosk, or purchasing gasoline at an unattended gasoline station). In that case you will likely need a Chip and PIN card.

Very few card issuers in the US issue "Chip and PIN" credit cards. They are generally cards for frequent international travelers. Many however have started to issue Chip and Signature cards (which however cannot be used in many automatic kiosks).

Posted by
20429 posts

The major credit card issuers have decided to go with Chip & Signature because they feel Americans are not smart enough to remember PINs, and thus would be a deterrent to frequent use of the plastic. If you meet any Canadians, congratulate them on their superior intelligence, since they have been using this system for years without problems.

Posted by
32263 posts

I really can't understand why there's so much resistance with U.S. banks to "get with the program" (shaking my head in disbelief). Surely they realize that "resistance is futile, you will be assimilated into the collective".

The changeover to Chip & PIN here was so very easy (at least from a consumer perspective), aside from a few "glitches" getting the POS terminals up and running. The more recent change to abolish our lowly penny was also pretty much a "non-event".

I wonder if the old-fashioned magnetic stripe credit cards are now being referred to in Europe as antica carta di credito or alte Kreditkarte?

Posted by
4535 posts

It always amazes me just how many travel sites are just plain wrong.

First, one can still use an old fashioned magnetic strip card or even a newer chip and signature card almost everywhere in Europe except for automatic kiosks and machines. Especially in touristy areas/businesses, as they clerks/waiters will be more used to printing out the receipt for you to sign. You do often need to tell them it is not chip and PIN or "no PIN" if they don't speak English.

Second, you cannot just call and add a PIN to any old credit card and have that work for purchases. PINs are always a good idea to have for emergency cash advances, but if the card isn't set up to use a PIN for authorizing purchases, it won't work. Some US chip and signature cards will use a PIN as a backup validation (when signatures are not possible), but not all. And the customer service rep you speak with will not know or have a clue, so never rely on their input or advice. Ask for a PIN and if you do get one, try it in an automated machine. If it doesn't work, they you know that your credit card doesn't use the PIN for purchase validation and you'll always need a signature.

Posted by
337 posts

While most US companies are going to chip and signature, you can get a chip and pin if you look around. I have chip and pin cards from both USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union. Both are no annual fee, and the NFCU card does not charge foreign transaction fees.

Over the past few years I have had little trouble with a non-chip card, the only time I wasn't able to use it was at unattended parking lots and garages. But I do like the security of not having the card leave your sight when using it at restaurants and other places where they have to take your card out of sight to swipe it.

Posted by
224 posts

We recently received new debit cards from Charles Schwab with the chip. Up until now in the US, when I used it at POS, I needed a PIN to complete the transaction. Now that the card has a chip, according to the instructions that accompanied the new cards, I must sign and not use a PIN. THIS IS A HUGE STEP BACKWARDS IN SECURITY! I just don't get it.

Posted by
2790 posts

You need to talk to Schwab - we just used our new Schwab card in France to get train tickets, no problem, used PIN.

What we did not have to do was enter our PIN when we inserted our card to retrieve French tickets we had bought online with it.