I just checked on my chipped AMEX card about a pin to use in Europe. I was told by AMEX, that only European issued amex cards use a pin. They say to inform the vendor in Europe that I am an American and they will accept my signature in place of a pin. Is this your experience?
Our recent experience with a chip card (October in Italy and London) was that the machine would spit out a receipt for us to sign. We did not even have to ask for it.
Most American chip cards are chip & signature. The pin they give you is sill only for cash withdraws.
We did 6 countries and I had almost not problem using my Chip & Signature card.
However, at The Amsterdam airport train station the machine wouldn't accept my CITI chip & signature card. The nice attendant told me to try a different card it often works. I tried a regular old non-chip card and it worked.
Of course I understand a card may work 9 out of 10 times, but that 10th time can be a real Inconvenience.
I was in the UK and France in October and had no problems using my Capital One 360 chip card with the pin for cash machine withdrawals and the signature for automatic receipt generators. There was never any question or need to say "this is an American chip card". The chip readers in shops and restaurants automatically spit out a receipt for signature. I only needed to use the pin for ATM withdrawals.
The issue with AMEX is that a lot of places just don't accept it at all. Hotels and higher-end restaurants are usually fine, but otherwise I suggest that you have a Visa, MasterCard or cash ready as a backup.
I'd agree with Nordheim. We don't carry an AMEX card abroad but when we've asked if a business takes CCs, that one was most often mentioned as non accepted. I'd make sure to have a Visa or Mastercard backup, and use your ATM for getting cash.
I used my chip and signature AMEX all over Paris, Reims day trip, Manchester/Chester a couple of weeks ago. I used it more than cash and way more than my Visa. Never a problem. I didn't stay in fancy hotels or eat at fancy restaurants either. The only shopping I did was at Carrefour and Boots.