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Automated ticket machines for trains in Belgium -

Just as an FYI

The machines to take the train in Belgium does not accept credit cards. We had to use our debit cards. I suspect the reason is that a PIN number is require to complete the transaction. Also, the machines only accept coins, and not paper Euros.

While not a big deal, it's good to know ahead of time. In our recent experience, the Brussels airport was completely unstaffed on the floor to take the train. At the train stations in Brussels, Gent, and Brugge, they were staffed, but the lines were long and appeared slow moving.

Not sure about most debit cards, but my east coast regional. bank charged a 3% international fee per transaction and the exchange rates used were similar to my credit card, meaning that they were fair.

Posted by
4701 posts

Nigel, most American banks issue credit cards with Signature-primary chips. Many credit cards have a PIN for (expensive) “cash advances”, on credit, at ATMs. The waters are very muddy for American card holders. There are many past American discussions on this newsboard about this.

Posted by
113 posts

Thanks for posting this, Joseph. I am traveling to Belgium next month and this info is good to know ahead of time.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the info; we are travelling to Netherlands and Belgium next week so will come in handy. I recently found out that credit cards issues through Barclays Bank are chip and pin- perhaps because its a European bank. If you already have one selecting a pin is simple by accessing your account online.

Posted by
4701 posts

Joseph, thanks for taking the time to post your experience. It can be "worth" the 3% to avoid waiting in the line for a human ticket seller. I have a PIN-priority Visa card from SDFCU, but I had to ask for it-i.e. a replacement card. Their default Visa card is Signature-priority, which I had for several years before I learned they had PIN-priority available.

Posted by
2749 posts

My card didn’t work work at the automated ticket machine in Brussels airport, but I have no idea why. It worked fine when I went to the window (no line). All my cards have PINs although I seldom have to use them.

Posted by
203 posts

I can confirm the OP is correct, as were were in Belgium and Netherlands a few weeks ago. Our Wells Fargo international transaction fee amounted to about 60 cents, so don’t let the cost of that steer you to a long line in front of a staffed ticket representative.

“Thanks for the info; we are travelling to Netherlands and Belgium next week so will come in handy. I recently found out that credit cards issues through Barclays Bank are chip and pin- perhaps because its a European bank. If you already have one selecting a pin is simple by accessing your account online.”

As an FYI, we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to use our Apple Watch for all ticket machines in The Netherlands. In the past, it was either debit cards or stand in line.

Posted by
4701 posts

Jay, your Apple Pay point is well taken. When I saw how many people in Poland had Contactless Credit Cards (and in tiny stores, they held it near a hockey-puck sized device that paired with the merchant's iPhone!), I tried Apple Pay twice, and it worked like a charm.

I wonder if many transit ticket machines have a Contactless point on their face panel? I will look next time. This could be an answer to many people's problems, including getting to use a card with 0% or 1% Foreign Transaction Fees.

Posted by
203 posts

I wonder if many transit ticket machines have a Contactless point on their face panel? I will look next time. This could be an answer to many people's problems, including getting to use a card with 0% or 1% Foreign Transaction Fees.

Tim, it sure seemed like most ticket machines in Netherlands now have contactless ability (Amsterdam Central, Schipol, Hague and Haarlem anyway). We were not successful in finding any in Belgium, but we spent most of our time in Ghent this time, so maybe Other areas have them popping up?

Posted by
306 posts

Following RS recommendations we applied for and received a VISA Chip and PIN card. It was a bit of a hassle to apply for, but it worked like a charm. the card also does not carry any foreign transaction fees.