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The latest info on credit card pins and ATM cards

I've read RS's online info about ATMs, debit cards, and credit cards, and have read different threads, but I still have a few questions for all of you season travelers after speaking with my banks.

  • Will NYCE Debit and ATM cards work in Europe? My understanding is they they are just for Canada and the US.
  • It looks like Maestro and Cirrus Debit and ATM cards will work in Europe. Is that correct?
  • Bank of America and Capital One say that a pin number is not needed for international point of sale credit card purchases, especially if you have chip and signature enabled cards. Is there truth to this?

Thanks.

Posted by
1093 posts

"a pin number is not needed for international point of sale credit card purchases, especially if you have chip and signature enabled cards. Is there truth to this?"

This is generally true if there is a person taking the credit card. Unattended (gas stations. toll booths, kiosks, train ticket machines) have a high probability that a PIN will be required.

I have never had a problem with any Master Card or VISA ATM card.

Posted by
4688 posts

I'd be shocked if your debit card doesn't work in Europe, if it has the Maestro and Cirrus logos on the back. What did your bank or credit union say?

I have a true chip and PIN credit card, but I rarely need it when traveling in Europe. I prefer my other cards that get airline rewards, etc. that do not have a PIN. These chip and signature credit cards work everywhere that involves a human (then a receipt will be printed that you will need to sign and and at many machines for museum tickets, train and bus tickets, etc. OCCASIONALLY these cards won't work so I need to use my chip and PIN card. (E.g. Amsterdam Schiphol airport train ticket machine but that was in 2016; various train ticket machines in Italy and France, though people later claimed their chip and signature cards worked at some of these). There's often a cash option to buy train tickets instead, FYI (some machines take only coins).

Posted by
20625 posts

Will NYCE Debit and ATM cards work in Europe? My understanding is they they are just for Canada and the US.
It strictly depends on the NETWORK used for processing the card. Some US credit unions and believe some Canadians use the STAR network. The STAR network does not work in Europe. My credit union uses both STAR and PLUS (Visa) so in Europe it access the PLUS network. The two big networks are PLUS (VISA) and CIRRUS (Mastercard) So if your debit card has either of those logos on the card or is "branded" a Visa or Mastercard on the front, it will work. Anything else I would be suspicious of not working.

It looks like Maestro and Cirrus Debit and ATM cards will work in Europe. Is that correct? Absolutely.

Bank of America and Capital One say that a pin number is not needed for international point of sale credit card purchases, especially if you have chip and signature enabled cards. Is there truth to this? Again, yes. But standalone machine such as ticket machines, gas pumps, and toll booth almost always will NOT work. Sometimes they might work with a pin but don't count on it.

Posted by
2290 posts

I don't know what a NYCE ATM card is. If it is on one of the big networks, it will work. Maestro, PLUS, and Cirrus will work, and I'd bet there are other networks as well. It is my understanding that VISA or Mastercard branded cards are on an international network and therefore will work (there may be exceptions, check the network logos on the card).

On the off chance you run across a machine where your card doesn't work just go to another machine. I've had this happen once or twice in years of travel (no idea if it was a faulty machine, a network issue, or other problem, but it was resolved by simply walking to a different machine).

You do need to call your bank to notify them you will be traveling, so they don't freeze the card on fraud suspicions.

A PIN number is not needed for chip-and-signature cards at manned locations. That is, anywhere a person is running the card (store, restaurant, inside a gas station). Their machine just prints out a paper for you to sign. The only place you may run into difficulty is at automated machines, like gas pumps or ticket kiosks. Sometimes these require a PIN, so it's possible you couldn't use them - there's usually a counter with a person and you can pay there instead.

Posted by
346 posts

I have had to have people rerun my chip and signature card once or twice but it always worked when a person was thier I have also usually gotten it to work at unmanned locations including some gas stations, but once or twice it would not work. And once I needed the attendant to show me how to get it to work in the gas pump thier was something odd you had to do to get pass the pin.

Posted by
1 posts

I have read through this string of communications ref ATMs and have my own questions with the "Allpoint" network since this was not mentioned. I have a credit union debit card (with MasterCard logo in front) that I plan to use for a 3 week trip to the UK and 2 nights in Iceland during April/May. When I searched for Allpoint ATMs in UK, there are many locations but I didn't find any at Heathrow. The back of my debit card also has "MasterCard", "pulse" and "accel" in addition to "Allpoint". Does anyone have experience with these networks? I am a seasoned traveller and have taken tours with Rick. My credit union used to have Cirrus also but not anymore. I have had problems using ATMs in Asia after they changed to "Allpoint". Any help would be appreciated.