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latest advice on best credit cards for Europe??

Is Capital One Venture card with no foreign transaction fee still the best option? Does this card have chip and pin built in? Are there any good options for Citicard (which is apparently now issuing cards with chip and pin as a standard feature)? Other good options out there?
thanks!

Posted by
2081 posts

Ruth,

Im reading this as a question and i think this is to be $$$$ saving hints..ect.

Im thinking this could be posted in a different board?

happy trails.

Posted by
2019 posts

All the Capital One cards, to my knowledge, have no foreign transaction fee (and convert at the published interbank rate). All banks (I am sure there are some exceptions, but off the top of my head I don't know them, and I don't need to find them since we have Capital One) will charge a 3% fee on top of every transaction. As to which Capital One product is the best for you, that depends on your own use and what you want from it. We use the vanilla card with 1.25% cash-back on all purchases.
None of the US cards currently have chip and pin. My understanding is that the companies here are loathe to do this because then they would have to make a massive outlay of money to make US ATM machines accept these (essentially a changeover of all ATMs), with the ability to entice credit card users to use their credit cards for cash advances, which run immediate high interest, is apparently more important than reducing fraud risk.
It's unfortunate that the last poster could not answer your question but rather had to tell you it simply should not have been here. It's also unfortunate that in spite of the huge makeover and disruption of the the helpline there is still no central point for information on money issues, in spite of many posters having asked for this over the years (sure hope the webmaster reads this far if a complaint over my prior sentence arrives)

Posted by
1005 posts

I'm sorry Larry, but you are wrong about American banks not issuing chip-and-PIN cards. Most of the major banks now issue them (usually for a high fee as a "travel special"). Cards from these banks are not true "chip-and-PIN' cards, but rather "chip-and-signature" cards. This variety will work in most European situations anyway. But if you want a true chip-and-PIN card, there are at least two US credit unions who issue them--Andrews Federal Credit Union and the US State Department Credit Union. I have an Andrews card and it has a low interest rate and low foreign transaction fees. It's easy to join; you just need to sign up for a consumer group to qualify and the credit union website takes you there during the enrollment process. For more info see andrewsfcu.org.

Posted by
2019 posts

Sorry T. But I am talking about true Chip-and-PIN credit cards, which is what we need universally in the US. And I don't see any of the banks I am with offering them, nor any of the abnks that are constantly sending us and our kids card offers. Had our banks had true Chip and PIN credit cards, then the Target fiasco, for example, would have been a non-event, ay least to all who use credit cards rather than debit or gift cards..

Posted by
1076 posts

I definitely know one bank that issues a true "pin and chip" card and that is USAA. I know because I just got one and my pin number arrived in the mail yesterday (separate from the card which came last week). You have to make a special request to get one but there is no charge. They have a 1% foreign transaction fee.

Posted by
6542 posts

They were talking about chip and pin cards today on television. They said it would be a $3 billion cost of switching over for the banks and about the same for the merchants. Neither is willing right now to do the switch, even though they (and we) all know that better security is badly needed.

Credit card companies wouldn't charge such service fees and high interest rates if they weren't having such a security problems and having to eat fraudulent charges.

I ran up on a bank with a team of ex-FBI agents working on credit card fraud. And they are all carrying sheriff's badges and have arrest powers. Whoever heard of a bank that'd come to your house and haul you to jail? It's a really serious problem that chip and pin would help alleviate.

I was thinking Chase was the only big name U.S. bank that could furnish you with a chip and pin credit card for use in Europe.

Posted by
6741 posts

There was another thread on the General Europe forum posted by Karen about the EMV (chip and pin) cards. She posted a link to the Diane Rheim show. The most important was that US merchants will be responsible for any fraud committed by someone using a magnetic strip card from October 2015 on. Visa and Mastercard will insure only transactions made with a chip and pin. Karen, who is a small business owner, said she's gotten nowhere every time she's tried to get the new card readers up until now. However, with liability changing to the businesses, we can expect updated cards and readers between now and October 2015. Either that or US merchants will no longer accept our Visa and Mastercards. Now that would be a major change.

Posted by
4498 posts

More banks are starting to issue cards with chips. And while they might not be the exact same chip & PIN as issued in Europe, most people here have reported being able to use them in most automated situations (where a magnetic strip card won't work). All cards come with or can be issued a PIN -whether magnetic or chip. Sometimes you have to ask for a PIN.

You have to check with each credit card issuer regarding their foreign transaction fees. And for someone making a rare two week visit to Europe, it might not make sense to get a new credit card. Many people have reported that credit unions offer good deals on cards, such as the Andrews Federal which has a chip too.

For now, the cost to convert to chip & PIN in the US is more than merchants and banks are willing to do. But breaches like Target will mean the conversion will slowly happen.

Posted by
28 posts

I used to work directly with clients in the worlds largest private bank, JPMorgan. I cannot speak for every bank in the country, but I can assure you that their CHIP/SIG cards worked just fine for clients traveling abroad. Some of the previous replies above are correct, these cards are not true CHIP/PIN. You will run into issues when using "unmanned" locations like gas pumps or MetroCard terminals. If you are handing your card to a human, they will simply swipe and it should ask for your signature. Someone higher up in Bank of America indicated that Europe is now having to update all these "unmanned" terminals with the ability to service our CHIP/SIG cards starting in spring 2014...so there is hope! Like I said, I never heard one peep from our affluent clients traveling in Europe (and they did that often), and these are the type of people that will peep on a whim.

Some of these cards are available for non-private bank consumers:
Chase Sapphire Preferred - now with smartchip!
https://creditcards.chase.com/sapphire/credit-card-benefits/chase-sapphire-preferred-benefits/

https://www.chase.com/credit-cards/smart-chip-faq.html

When I use my Chip with Signature card abroad for purchases will I be asked to provide a PIN?
~Your card is Chip with Signature and when you use your Chip with Signature card you will be required to provide your signature at the end of the transaction, just like your current magnetic stripe card does.

Posted by
30 posts

I have a magnetic strip Chase Explorer card with no foreign transaction fees. I guess that doesn't count for much if merchants, restaurants and hotels won't accept a non-Chip and Signature card. I just hate to pay extra fees for a Chase Sapphire card.

Posted by
2019 posts

As far as I know, regular standard old fashioned American strip and signature cards are still usable all over, except at specifics like gas pumps and ticket machines, which require the chip-and-pin.

Posted by
222 posts

I have had no issue whatsoever using my standard American mag stripe swipe-and-sign credit cards at hotels, restaurants and shops in Austria and Italy. I am planning to use my same old Capital One Visa credit card and Schwab Visa debit card when I visit Spain in a few weeks. I will neither pay international transaction fees on purchases with the credit card, nor ATM fees with the debit card. Those two cards are the best for me when traveling internationally. I'll carry an additional credit card that comes with the usual 3% purchase fee, but only as backup. I'm sure that at some point in the future, there will be issues using the old credit cards. I'll let y'all know if I have any problems in Spain.

Posted by
6542 posts

Credit cards with the magnetic stripe will work just about everywhere.

And if the merchant has problems, he can always manually key the numbers in and get your signature--as a backup.

We're long over due for the chip and pin cards. But the cost is going to be $ billions for the banks, credit card processors and the merchants in the U.S. That will eventually affect the end users--the customers.

Posted by
540 posts

Hi Ruth,

A few things to know about the Cap One Venture One card that I didn't know before I got one: they have the new purchase eraser feature which doesn't quite work the way I thought it does. For example, I thought if I spent $1000 on a vacation and I had say, $400 of points on the CapOne card, I could just deduct the $400 from the total and only pay $600 out of pocket. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. If I have $400 worth of credits, I can only deduct things that cost up to that amount. For example, if I had a plane ticket for $300, hotel bill for $600 and miscellaneous (parking, tolls, etc) for $90. I can erase the $300 and the $90, but not ANY of the $600. That may not sound so bad, BUT, if the plane ticket cost $401 dollars, the hotel cost $402 dollars and miscellaneous costs were then $198, I could ONLY deduct the $198 from my vacation expenses. Another thing to know about the CapOne is that it takes much longer to tack up points than I originally thought. In that same example to earn $1000 worth of points, you have to spend $100000. *Obviously, this doesn't include the bonus points you get for signing up.

There are some similar cards that also offer no Foreign Exchange fees, but you may get able to get around the issues above. The Barclaycard Arrival is one and the Chase Sapphire Prefferd is another where you don't pay forex fees. The Barclaycard is set up like the CapOne above, but there isn't the issue with the purchase eraser I BELIEVE (I don't have this card, so double check). It works the same way in terms of earning the points, but you get an annual points bonus that CapOne doesn't offer. I heard this can be a hard bank to get credit from, so I would only apply if you have really good credit (you don't want to waste a credit pull). The Chase Sapp. Preferred works differently. It earns miles rather than points, but the nice thing is, it has several partners you can transfer your miles to) so let's say you have some British Airlines points, but not enough for a frequent flier ticket, you can transfer some Chase Sapp miles into the Brit Air account). I am certainly NOT the authority on this subject, but you can start reading some blogs about this topic. I recommend: The Points Guy, MommyPoints, MileValue, The Frugal Travel Guy and a few others.

I hope this helps you decide on a credit card strategy.

Good Luck!

Posted by
30 posts

I just posted info under a new topic for Andrews Federal Credit Union chip and PIN Visa.

Posted by
37 posts

If you want a true Chip and Pin card (not chip and signature) with no annual fee USAA Savings Bank offers one. It is easy to get and does not require credit union membership or any other barriers. There is a foreign transaction fee, but you want to have a chip and pin for peace of mind (parking garages, kiosks, gas pumps), you can get one from USAA.

I believe their default is still a magnetic strip card. You have to request the chip card (at no additional fee) and they need time to mail it to you. PIN code is sent in separate mailing. Info and phone number:
http://content.usaa.com/mcontent/static_assets/om/Media/docs/126885.pdf

We mostly used our Capital One card, but I, too, am not happy with the way their travel credit is applied (not just a dollar amount, you have to find a "matching" travel purchase). My Freedom card credits the $$ amount, but it's not a flat 2% back.

Posted by
2019 posts

Gretchen: Regarding your Capital One Venture Card and points system:
Why are you using this instead of the straightforward REGULAR Capital One card where you know that you are getting that 1.25% cashback on every transaction? On your hypothetical spending of $100,000 you would have earned $1,250 (rather than $1,000 worth of points). And that is what you would receive back, without having to find any corresponding vacation purchases. And you would not have to wait as you could have been converting these to account credits every month.
I can't believe the banks would allow points programs that could be exploited to pay out more than their regular cashback programs.
If it's the bonus points for signing up that are luring you (you mentioned bonus points), there are many ways to beat this. For example, we get repeated offers for Major League baseball Mastercards through Bank of America, with along with their 1% unlimited cashback on everything and additional 1% grocery stores + 2% gas (limited on these extra to $1500 worth of purchases per quarter) they offer additional 4100 bonus if $500 is charged in the first 3 months. You could open and close unlimited cards in your household.Of course, this card won't be used for travel as it has the 3% foreign transaction fee...

Posted by
209 posts

Just want to add a shout-out for the USAA chip and pin card. When I called to tell them I was going to Europe, they suggested I get it. Same number as my regular credit card, and both the card and the PIN arrived within two days of each other.
Cynthia

Posted by
1 posts

Hello. I have a Hawaiian airlines mastercard originally issued through Bank of America. In April, they sent me a new card with a chip and pin. Apparently, they have partnered with Barclay Bank, which I am familiar with because I used their ATMS in London, England. This will almost certainly be the card I take to Europe next time. I used my Capital One Venture card last time but on many occasions...renting bikes on the streets, train stations automated ticket machines, some restaurants..we would have loved to have had a card with a chip. Check it out at Hawaiiancreditcard.com.