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Canadian Debit Cards

There has been a lot of info about debit cards and PIN numbers but I haven't found anything specifically about Canadian debit cards. Canadian banks all use 4 digit PIN's. Our bank told us it wouldn't work in Italy in their ATMs. We are also going to Greece, France and Spain. Any other Canadians have any problems with their debit cards and PIN numbers? Are Visa and Mastercards with PIN numbers accepted or do we use the mag stripe?

Posted by
1570 posts

Never once had a problem with using my cards in Europe even back in 2004 in Poland.

Make sure the "plus " sign is displayed at the ATM. Our 4 digit codes work fine.

I've never paid by debit/interac there, only cash or credit. We generally pay cash (withdrawn there) for day to day expenses and charge bigger things such as hotels.

Posted by
8293 posts

Never ask anyone who works in a (Canadian) bank for information on anything to do with Europe. They are useless when it comes to this. I have a 4 digit PIN # and have used it in Europe for years. Your bank will have accurate information about travel to Las Vegas, should that ever be your destination.

Posted by
3521 posts

On my last RS tour, there were several Canadians. I hung out with them a lot because they were friendly nd interesting to talk to. None of them had any issues using credit or debit cards to pay for anything or to get cash from ATMs.

Posted by
3941 posts

Been to Italy and France multiple times since 2008 and only once had an an ATM in Venice. Not sure why it wouldn't work, but we went to a different bank machine and no issues at that one.

You can also look at your bank and they may have partner banks overseas where you can use the card without the additional $5 fee. EG...we bank with Scotiabank and can use it at BNP Paribas in France without the extra fee. And as another reply mentioned, we only use our debit to take out cash...and either pay with cash or credit cards.

You should be able to use the PIN with the credit cards. I think we've even used tap and go in the UK.

Posted by
691 posts

Never had a problem in multiple trips to Europe.
For withdrawing cash, I always call my bank before depature to let them know where I am travelling.
You can ask what is your daily limit, and increase it if needed, ask if it is for both cards if travelling with your spouse.
At the ATM always withdraw the maximum. It varies by country.
If paying with a credit card, always choose to pay in euro, not in canadian.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
4054 posts

You will be hard pressed to find a Canadian ATM or credit card without a fee for foreign currency transactions. All major banks charge fees (or require annual fees.) I have heard of a few small operations with no fees but have not tried them. Even Capital One, noted for offering some no-fee, or nearly-no, in the US, did charge fees like the Canadian banks for its Canadian operations.
Because I travel alone, I carry credit and ATM cards from two different banks, operating in two different systems, and never keep them all in the same wallet. They have worked in the Canary Islands, United Arab Emirates, China and Vietnam. With chip-and-pin cards now the rule in Canada, the system is secure enough that Canada's biggest bank, the Royal, no longer requires notification if travellers are going to use the plastic abroad.
It should be no surprise if a representative in a neighbourhood branch bank is not fully informed on the electronics of international money.

Posted by
61 posts

Never had any issues using debit card for ATM withdrawals. Your credit cards are good for purchases but avoid using them at the ATM for cash withdrawals- scary interest rates!

While we have all the Canadians here..... does anyone know if 'contactless' payment for things like the Oyster card in London is the same as our 'tap' credit cards?

Posted by
225 posts

I have never had a problem either. The only problem I had was maxing my daily limit when i paid a friend back.

I also travel with 2 different cards but the same bank. What would you suggest for a different operating system?

Posted by
11507 posts

I have been using my Canadian (TD bank ) debit card with its 4 digit PIN for many years.. in France, Italy, Spain, UK, Greece and many other countries. .

Norma is right.. Bank tellers are useless for help , I have had them tell me all sorts of nonsense.

I DO have a debit card that has FREE foreign withdrawals. Its a Select Account at the TD bank.. you have to keep a 5,000 minimum in the account.
When my 20 yr old daughter went and did 2 month backpacking trip last year I lent her 5,000 dollars to open that account, she then deposited all her own money in the account to use.. and when she returned home , we closed that account and I got my money back ( she never spent it of course ) .
I have and used this account for many many years.

Posted by
19 posts

We live in the USA but travel with a debit card from a Canadian bank.
It has worked flawlessly all over Europe and SE Asia. (Aside from the per-transaction fee)

Posted by
3941 posts

Just to clarify...Scotiabank is part of the Global ATM Alliance. You can make withdrawals with no international atm access fees. Other fees, such as an international transaction or foreign currency fee, may still apply for some account holders.

In case anyone is interested...

Not sure if other banks have something similar. We use Simplii for everyday no fee banking/paying bills online. (Formerly presidents choice). Scotiabank is for the saving/paycheque direct deposit.

Posted by
5697 posts

Nice to hear that local bank staff in Canadian banks are just as clueless about European travel as their American counterparts.

Posted by
4574 posts

North America, South America, Africa and Europe - been using my debit cards for years. I did get stuck once in Uganda when we had a jeep accident in 'little town, no where' and the banks were not international affiliates. As said, if one doesn't want to play, walk down the block to the next bank and chances are it will work.
Debit is used for cash withdrawls and I pay cash for most day to day things. I accept the minor charge to use the machine, because I take out enough to last a long time. Simplii doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. As I never pay at home withdrawl fees, I figure 5-15$ a trip for withdrawl fees is just part of travel. My TD Visa doesn't seem to charge foreign transaction fees but I have a store issue MC that does. As I pay a lot of my trip off before travel, Foreign transaction and withdrawl fees are just not a concern for me.
As mentioned, some banks just don't need to know when you are traveling anymore. Some, you just register your travel dates on line.

Posted by
4054 posts

Simplii charges me a flat $3 Cdn fee for ATM transactions outside Canada (including the United States). It also takes 2.5 per cent of the transaction, which I think is more than its Presidents Choice predecessor. Simplii cards do not work for purchases outside Canada. They connect with the Plus network. This comes straight from a Simplii telephone representative this morning.

Posted by
4574 posts

Southam, thanks for the update. I was in Spain during the transition so they must have been honouring PC practices for the first part of the roll out. I'll have to look at an alternative.