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Talking about my VISA Bill with European charges

Hi all. I thought that looking at my bill would be of interest to someone who hasn't used a credit card in Europe yet. I just received my VISA bill from my Europe trip. I got this VISA very quickly from my local credit union, just weeks before I traveled, since I wanted a "chip and pin" card to use there.

The first thing I noticed is that every European transaction is listed in both Euros and dollars, like this:

KunstHistMuseum Shop3. . . . . . . . $31.38
Purch 26.45 EUR

Batorama Strasbourg . . . . . . . . . $30.52
Purch 26.00 EUR

I found this to be very clear. The purchase from the coffee shop in Basel Airport is listed as CHF (swiss francs). With my card, there is a 1% foreign transaction fee, which is not large, but still...$7.88 on $788.00 of purchases. This foreign transaction fee was also charged to me here at home for making some purchases through the internet, for example, my Deutsche Bahn ticket, and my ticket for the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

My credit card was taken no matter where I used it; however, I was never asked for a PIN.

Posted by
5664 posts

My CapOne Visa (a Chip and signature) statement even shows the exchange rate used in the conversion and no "foreign transaction fee" E.g.:
Feb 26
Tibits LuzernLUZERN $35.85
36.00 CHF
1.004184100 Exchange Rate

Posted by
5697 posts

And if you set up your credit card to alert you to all foreign transactions, you can see the dollar amount by email almost immediately.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

Well, your Wechselkurs was worse than when I was there in June since yours was 1.18 to a buck. I had 1.12, which is all right but not when you compare it to 1.08. Hopefully, the Wechselkurs stays at 1.18 or improves.

Posted by
2314 posts

Not to pile on, but here are two common credit cards with NO foreign transaction fee nor any annual fee - Capital One Quicksilver and Amazon Visa via Chase. In addition, the Quicksilver card pays back 1.5% on purchases, while the Amazon rebates 3% on all Amazon orders, 2% on restaurant and drug stores, and 1% on all others. These rebates apply to purchases outside the US. Although these are only chip, not chip-and-pin, the absence of the pin has never been an issue. Both list the initial amount of the foreign currency and the exchange rate applied.

Posted by
6177 posts

Shelley, you said ". . .I was never asked for a PIN. . . ". Were you asked for a signature during any transaction?

Posted by
2314 posts

Based on our experience the last couple years with our chip cards, I believe that in Europe their machines may in fact know when a card does not have a PIN. We do not get asked for this in our transactions either (nor in using it online for transit and movie tickets abroad).

Posted by
3565 posts

Customer beware -- as usual. A few credit and debit cards do not charge a fee for foreign exchange, and congratulations to those who hold them. Some cards charge a flat fee. With them, buying something for the equivalent of $5 and then paying a $2 fee is foolish. But withdrawing the equivalent of $500 dollars (if permitted) on a $2 fee is a very low expense. The best advice is to read the fine print on your card agreement closely, and search out the financial institution that is cheapest. Well, two, since you should have back-up cards from a different system. My take-it-easy approach is to go back to the old days and pay cash, withdrawn at a low fee if possible, for all but the biggest expenditures. Easy, fast, cheaper. And easier to say, since all cards where I live and bank are PIN.

Posted by
12400 posts

Of course, I was asked for the PIN when using the US chip and signature credit card to buy a train ticket from the DB machine this past June. . Insert the credit card, on the little window there appears "PIN eingeben" That's when you touch in on the key pad your PIN, otherwise the transaction of buying the train ticket will not go through.

Posted by
113 posts

Shelly,

On my recent trip to Paris this past February, I used my Capital One card and did not pay foreign transaction fees. My card was a chip signature and I was never asked for a pin. I was always asked to sign my receipt. Just do your research on the cards you plan on carrying with you.

Posted by
315 posts

Fred, would you remind me what CC you have that allows european kiosk charges with your pin? Chase would not work for train kiosk in Italy. Honestly, I can not remember if we tried the Capital One.

Posted by
12400 posts

@ slwolf....This past June in Germany I bought train tickets from DB machines, sometimes paying cash, sometimes paying by credit card. The cc I used was the BofA Visa Travel Rewards card.

Insert that, the little window says, "PIN eingeben" which means you are to punch in/indicate your PIN on the keypad. That I did. Next I think it said, "Bearbeitet" ie, " processed. " Transaction went through.

The pictogram on the DB machine shows both the chip and pin AND the American chip and signature credit card (with the stripe folded over), ie that's what we have in contrast to the Europeans. It was surprising in one way the first time for me punch in the PIN. If someone found /stole? an American cc, inserted in at a DB machine to buy a ticket, presumably, the bad guy won't know the PIN, so his transaction will end up not going through.