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My Andrews credit card experiences

Long before my trip I purposely got a chip and PIN credit card from Andrews FCU. So when I landed at Heathrow and went to the Harrods store I excitedly pulled out my card. I stuck it in the slot on the little wireless terminal, it whirred and flashed and ... out popped a receipt to sign.

Undaunted, I then used the card in various locations in Switzerland and France. Each time, same thing - stuck the card in the chip slot and I had to sign the receipt. So apparently the card is set to default to signature. The one time I might have needed the PIN was at a ticket machine in the Paris metro, but the machine was acting up and I thought it wiser to just push in my euro coins and be on my way.

Every other time we used any of our credit cards there was no problem. Your mileage may vary of course.

Posted by
324 posts

I have a State Dept FCU card and I used it in the machines on the tube and Paris Metro and didn't require a pin. Any place that had a human spat out a receipt. I haven't used it stateside yet, but the chip and Pin terminals are popping up all over, including at my tiny local grocery store that has two checkout counters.

Posted by
16165 posts

Similar experiences. I finally found my chance when I bought a tagekarte for the Zurich tram from the vending machine at the stop. I was disappointed that the machine just spit out my ticket and receipt without requiring my PIN. Apparently, the vendor can set a limit for small transactions (less than 10 chf say) without requiring a PIN. When I got to Paris, I did need to input my PIN to buy a carnet out of the vending machine.

Posted by
2081 posts


according to the info that i was reading regarding the various CnP cards out there, your AFCU card is not a true CnP card. For various reasons only known to the people that "think" they know whats best for us, can change priorities on how the cards will work.

your AFCU will in order (according to the current info).

  1. Require a signature, when there is body behind the credit card machine.
  2. when there isn't a body behind the credit card machine, it should default to a "chip and pin" card.

happy trails.

Posted by
2916 posts

That was my experience with Andrews FCU too a couple of years ago in France. It worked with a PIN at unattended machines, but otherwise it always, or almost always, required a signature. At the time I was puzzled, because I thought it was purely a chip and PIN.

Posted by
1005 posts

I have used the Andrews card in several European countries, including France, Belgium and the Netherlands. I've also researched the Flyer Talk site about chip-and-PIN cards. What I've found is that the Andrews card is a true chip-and-PIN card, in that it will work in offline ticket machines and gas pumps--you punch in your PIN and complete the transaction. I did this in France when I needed to buy train tickets from a machine. However, if there is a clerk, the card will usually default to a signature rather than a PIN to complete the transaction. Not every US card will work for every transaction in Europe, but it seems Andrews covers it better than almost any other US chip card and it has no fees.

There is a lot of chat on the Flyer Talk site about chip-and-PIN versus chip-and-signature cards. It seems that the default to the signature mode is really the fault of the US Visa and Mastercard offices--they think punching in a PIN is "too confusing" for American consumers, so they issued guidelines that card with chips should default to a signature first.

Posted by
4524 posts

Most US issued "chip" cards will have a validation protocol set to signature. In the handheld machines popular in Europe, they will typically spit out a receipt for you to sign.

Many cards will use a PIN as a secondary validation. This will allow entering a PIN in the event the machine is automated.

Some vendors and banks allow automatic validation for purchases under a certain amount, often $50 in the US. So in some cases, using a chip card in an automated machine won't even require a PIN (whether your card uses a PIN as a secondary validation or not).

Posted by
18022 posts

I was just informed by 1st bank of Colorado that they are sending me a new credit card with an imbedded chip. I asked at the bank if it was a true CnP cards like they use in Europe. She called the credit card division and they told me that I could use it in Europe (?), but I think it will also have a magnetic strip, so I don't know if it will work as a true CnP card in Europe. I think I will have to request a PIN for the card separately.