Please sign in to post.

Using a US issed mastercard or visa in Austria

Based on some of the responses to the question below regarding buying tickets on the OBB website with a US credit card the much bigger question is: Are you able to use a visa or mastercard issued by a US bank for routine purchases in Austria?

Posted by
1078 posts

Has never been an issue in my experience, except using self-service gas pumps or train ticket vending machines because I was using a chipped CC without a pin. Next trip in June intend to see if my Visa Debit (with a chip and pin) will be a work-around.

Posted by
16883 posts

At staffed sales points, you should have no problem using your cards .

Stand-alone gas pumpsand ticket machines are not connected to the internet, which is what's necessary to process many US cards. (ATMs do not have this issue, they are connected.)

Online, the problem is usually with an extra level of "3D" security (with a password) that many US cards don't have.

Of course, it's smart to also have a good supply of cash on hand, taken from the ATM.

Posted by
12794 posts

"...for routine purchases in Austria?" Never had a problem if the credit card is accepted, be it at a dept store, the Post Office, train station ticket counter, hotels, hostel, or restaurant.

Posted by
3487 posts

No problem as long as you tell your card issuer (bank) you will be using it in Europe.

This is best done through their online banking portal. Or by calling the number on the back of the card. The staff at your local bank branch might have good intentions, but their entering the notification successfully has been problematic for me in the past.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks everyone that makes me feel better. I guess we'll just have to buy our tickets at the train stations in Austria since the OBB website doesn't work.

Posted by
1465 posts

3D secure code checking of credit cards is very common in Europe when making purchases via the Internet. If the merchant , like OeBB, relies on this feature there is no way around it. During the billing process your credit card company is notified, which in turn asks you - invisibly for the merchant - for your password.

Ask the issuer of yor credit card whether they support "3D Secure", if yes let them activate it and choose your password.

Posted by
1465 posts

I guess we'll just have to buy our tickets at the train stations ...

Note that the special bargain tickets ("Sparschiene") are not available at the ticket counters, i.e. via the Internet only, if the trip is completely within Austria (e.g. Vienna - Salzburg). Border crossing Sparschiene tickets (e.g. Vienna - Budapest) you may buy at a ticket counter.

Posted by
41 posts

I've been to Europe twice recently. The first time I believed everyone who said you didn't need a chip & pin, and regretted it. (Was primarily in Switzerland and France). Chip and signature are no problem with a human being, but they often don't work on toll roads or trains station kiosks. And who wants to wait in line when you could avoid a line and get to an earlier train? More recently I was in Italy, and before leaving we got a Barclay Arrival Plus card because it's one of the few US cards that has chip and pin, has no foreign transaction fees, earns 2%+ cash back and has a fairly low fee. That worked great in all the Italy train stations, and I was very happy to have that. (No, I don't work for them. There just aren't many true chip and pin cards issued in the US.)

Posted by
12794 posts

Using their chip and signature credit cards, Americans will find Austria and Germany the easiest and the most accommodating compared to France, Italy and Holland, where the chip and signature will not be accepted "for routine purchases" such as at unmanned gas stations or SNCF ticket machines in contrast to DB or ÕBB ticket machines.

Posted by
1465 posts

Years back credit card companies in Europe had started to issue cards equipped with a chip, Diners Club was the last to follow. Therefore the vast majority of credit cards in Europe have a chip. The chip stores all necessary data and is forgery-proof. In addition the 3D-Secure feature was added for online purchases.

This does not necessarily mean that have to use those features for all purchases unless the merchant requires it. All credit cards have still the magnetic strip on the back, so you may swipe the card as in the old days.

I never use the PIN of my credit cards - anyway I don't know them by heart anymore - because I cannot remember a purchase where it was madatory. PINs are always required when withdrawing cash at an ATM but I never do this with a credit card. Transaction fees of credit cards for cash advance (as they call it) are way higher than those of debit cards.

Posted by
1465 posts

Since we never rent cars in Europe, I have no experience with gasoline pumps.

At least in Austria the number of gas stations where you can pay at the pump with your credit card is minute.
Usually there is a cashier desk where you pay if the gas station is open.