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Prepaid European VISA cards

French rail will not accept North American credit cards and offers no 'work around' solution like PayPal.
I would if I can buy a Europen/French pre paid re-laoadable VISA card.
Does anyone have experience with this and can I buy one here?
Thanks,
Canadian Banker

Posted by
128 posts

This is confusing as I always use my American credit card . I have purchased tickets online and in person, as recently as last week.

Posted by
8889 posts

Alternative solution, have you tried Trainline: https://www.trainline.eu/
They sell all French tickets at the same price as SNCF, but have a more user-friendly site and allegedly accept non-European cards better than SNCF does.

Posted by
2044 posts

We used the debit card from our Schwab account last time we purchased SNCF online, no problem (and no FTF, and proper exchange rate).

Posted by
2465 posts

How very odd. I've been using my Canadian VISA to buy French (and other European) train ticketsfor years with zero problem. Did you notify your CC company ahead of time that you would be making international purchases? Sometimes they'll block them if they suspect fraud.

I agree that you could try buying thru trainline instead.

Posted by
3295 posts

Have you told your bank you will be making European purchases?

Many credit card issuers still will deny all foreign originated transactions if you don't tell them you will be making those purchases, even online purchases originating outside your country..

Most pre paid cards have huge fees associated with use. But if nothing else works, you might have luck using one bought in that country. I know of no one who has successfully done that.

Posted by
4689 posts

It's tough for Americanskis to give credit card advice for Canadians. I think there are significant differences in the construction of the products. I would have expected better, more cosmopolitan results from the Canadian product! As others noted, I had no trouble buying from the national rail companies in Western Europe. It's always wise, when posting, to give the exact URL of the site you were buying on. There are a lot of intermediaries and resellers, for everything, these days. I prefer to use the actual national rail companies. I usually get a print-at-home, bar-coded ticket, and requirement to show a passport or the same credit card, to the conductor.

The last time I bought a prepaid card in Euros, it was an absolute rip-off from Travelex. I'll never do it again. And now that the US has (more or less) Chip-and-PIN cards, it's not really necessary.

Posted by
16769 posts
  • I have understood Canadians to have better luck with the foreign web sites - that is that you might have a true chip+PIN card while Americans still have mostly chip+signature. Do let your bank know your plans.

  • No, we don't recommend pre-paid cards in general and don't think they'll have any better function for this usage.

  • SNCF does accept PayPal for a small range of the cheapest advance-discount fares, but not for the majority of fares. I can't explain that "logic."

Posted by
2465 posts

I just had a thought- I wonder if the OP was actually on the SNCF website. When I just Googled sncf, the official site was the third entry. The first was actually for raileurope. Maybe that's why he had a problem?