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Visa Debit Chip and Pin

I recently was given a new debit card by my bank that has the new chip on it. It is a debit card with a pin, not a credit card. Would this be acceptable in most/all/some places in Europe? I'll be in Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Is there anywhere this wouldn't be acceptable? Thanks!

Posted by
20632 posts

It will work fine in bank owned ATMs for withdrawing cash. However, it is generally recommended that you not use a debit card for regular purchases. In northern Europe (Netherlands, etc.) the card probably will not be accepted since it is not a true chip and pin card.

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks Frank. What would qualify as a true chip and pin card then?

Posted by
8906 posts

For purchases a Visa debit card it can used by any merchant that already accepts credit cards. With the exception of Dutch Rail, you can use a debit card in Holland for purchases at most all merchants. Made bout 20+ purchases with by debit earlier this year, in France/Holland...no problems

Posted by
20632 posts

The cards being issued in the US are chip and signature because the credit industry believe we are too stupid to remember our pin number. So a true chip and pin would be a chip and pin. There are mixed reports here and elsewhere about the general acceptability of chip and signature cards. Since we use cash about 98% of the time we don't worry about acceptability of either debt or credit cards.

Posted by
14 posts

The OP said the card they got was a chip and pin card not a chip and signature card...

Posted by
4690 posts

Jeremy, I just realized that the short answer to your OP is:

Your new card is MORE acceptable in Europe than your old card was. That's because they (not our brilliant bankers here) invented the chip. As a practical matter, your ATMs in Europe will probably read the entire card with its old magnetic swipe just like we do here. A few places that ONLY accept chip cards (like automated ticket kiosks) may take your new card for modest-sized purchases. Attended desks will print out a slip for you to sign, or present a touchscreen like big-box stores do in the US for signatures today.

Longer comments:

If anyone refuses your card, they would have refused the old card even more. In fact, Amsterdam is the easiest place in the Netherlands to use United States credit cards. Hotels and car rental places still generally take swipe cards. Government museums generally take only chip-and-PIN. You will see some dual-purpose POS terminals with duct tape over the "swipe" slot. Unfortunately, I haven't been to the Netherlands since I got my State Department Federal Credit Union chip card. But it was quite usable in London, Lisbon, Milan, and the Canary Islands (of Spain.)

Posted by
8906 posts

Government museums generally take only chip-and-PIN. You will see some
dual-purpose POS terminals with duct tape over the "swipe" slot.

When I visited the Royal Palace in Amsterdam last April the cashier said the duct tape was to prevent American Express cards from being used as they will crash the reader. She removed the tape and let my party of three use two magnetic strip debit cards, and a magnetic strip CC no problems.

Posted by
9361 posts

Phillip, the OP said theirs is a debit card with a PIN. That doesn't make it a "chip and PIN" card in the credit card sense. In the US, most providers issue chipped cards that are set up as "chip and signature".

Posted by
3313 posts

Jeremy,

When most talk about "true" CHIP & PIN they are referring to a CREDIT card and those are the preferred cards to use in Europe. Nearly every chip credit card issued in the US is a chip & signature card. While these work, they can be balky at some types of purchase points that are unattended like train ticket dispensers.

Your card is a DEBIT card. While in the US it works indistinguishably from a credit card, they are different. I would not depend on it as my sole method of purchasing in Europe. And just for me, I would never use a debit card to buy anything in Europe. I would only use it to get cash from ATMs and then either pay cash for my purchases or use a true credit card. You will find many shops in Europe still prefer cash and put limits on credit card usage or outright refuse any form of payment except cash.

Posted by
20632 posts

Phillip

The OP said the card they got was a chip and pin card not a chip and
signature card...

Right now there is an enormous amount of confusion in the US over the newer chip cards being issued by nearly all creditors. I am guessing the OP probably doesn't know the difference between pin or signature since a pin is routine with debit cards. My debit cards have not been reissued with a chip. Now it is very confusing at check outs. Some are swiping the chip card and some are inserting the card. Some merchants are complaining that the chip card is slowing down the process since the card has to remain in the slot for several seconds. Maybe by next year ..........

Posted by
4468 posts

ATMs in the UK all have chip readers and will use that by preference over the mag stripe. This is the case widely throughout Europe.

Posted by
1406 posts

Credit cards offer quite a few protection features, debit cards very few. And if someone runs up a lot of CC charges you're not really out any money, but a debit card can quickly drain your checking account and then go into overdraft. For me, I just use my credit cards on the trip and then settle everything up when I get back.

Posted by
9361 posts

Debit cards are also protected against fraud, and you will ultimately not lose anything. You can also set up your debit card to not work if there is no money in the account. While there could be a problem temporarily while it is sorted out, it is no different than credit card fraud that causes someone to have to be without an operational card for a day or two.

Posted by
8906 posts

Credit cards offer quite a few protection features, debit cards very
few

Not so. From the FTC site (http://tinyurl.com/apv4wwd):

ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers.
If you report an ATM or debit card missing before someone uses it, the EFTA says you are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions. If someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it:
If you report: Your maximum loss:
Before any unauthorized charges are made. $0
Within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft. $50
More than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, $500
More than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. All the money taken from
your ATM/debit card acount, and possibly more; for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.
If someone makes unauthorized transactions with your debit card number, but your card is not lost, you are not liable for those transactions if you report them within 60 days of your statement being sent to you.

Posted by
17657 posts

I think the biggest problem with using a debit card for purchases in Europe is that you are giving someone who can use it fraudulently immediate access to all the money in your account. Yes, you can limit the amount they can eventually take out, but until then they can temporarily drain the account so that you have nothing to take out for yourself, compared to a credit card where they send you a bill including the fraudulent charges, and you don't have to pay it while you depute the charges.

I think your risk of fraud is far less if you use your debit card at a bank ATM and pay in cash. And, strip ATM cards are still accepted at bank ATMs everywhere. Plus, places that only accept cash are the mostly less expensive places.

Posted by
9361 posts

Lee, I was thinking more of what happens of you lose a credit card or have it stolen. You would report it, then would be without a card until they could replace it - so you would have no use for yourself in that case, either. Of course, the smart thing to do is not have all of your money in the account tied to your debit card. I can't see how anyone could access other accounts from your debit cards. I have never seen an ATM in Europe that gives you access to transfer funds from a savings account or draw directly from it.

Posted by
8906 posts

you are giving someone who can use it fraudulently immediate access to
all the money in your account.

That is a highly unlikely scenario. The banks internal fraud detectors will never let someone use a debit card rack up thousands of dollar in purchases in a single day. In addition most all banks limit the number of times one can use it to make purchase to 5 in a single day.
Of course the bad guys are well aware of this as well and know to make smaller purchases to stay under the radar.

Posted by
3313 posts

There is no limit on the number of times a debit card can be used in a day.

Specific banks may have specific account types that have usage limits. But the majority of banks allow you to use your debit card as much as you like as long as you do not spend more than a specific amount each day. Since banks make money from card use, they do not want to limit your use as that would limit their income potential.

Some Pre Paid debit cards, such as gift cards, government benefit cards, and payroll cards do have limits on the number of times they can be used daily. The current average is around 20 times per day.

Posted by
8906 posts

There is no limit on the number of times a debit card can be used in a
day.

That's true when using the card domestically. But when using it overseas more restrictions are in place. Five is the limit my bank imposes while traveling. Although I was able to get around that limit by using the debit card attached to Apple Pay via my Iphone in London several weeks ago.

Posted by
1406 posts

And that is why you and your travel partner(s) always carry more than one card, mixing up Visa MC and Amex

I was thinking more of what happens of you lose a credit card or have it stolen. You would report it, then would be without a card until they could replace it - so you would have no use for yourself in that case,

Posted by
9361 posts

Yes, phred, I know. I made that statement in response to Lee's saying that with a debit card, someone could temporarily "drain" your account, leaving you with nothing to use. As I said, with a credit card, temporarily being unable to use your money (card) can still happen.

Posted by
2961 posts

Andrews Federal Credit Union offers a true chip and pin card with no foreign transaction fees for a Credit Card.

Charles Schwab Investor Checking offers a good debit card with no ATM fees or foreign transaction fees.

I truly think it is more of an issue to think about the fees associated with the card than to worry about if it will require a signature or not. Most people find having a debit card that is free of ATM fees and foreign transaction fees is very convenient and they will simply withdraw cash for most expenses as they go. If you are using your credit card for your hotels or train tickets, they will have no difficulties taking these at any manned booths and most ticket machines.

Posted by
2814 posts

I got an Andrews card a few years ago because I wanted a chip and PIN for use at unmanned gas and train station machines in France. I was surprised the first time I used it at a shop and I was asked for a signature, then I later found out that signature was the first priority verification even though it has a PIN. But it has been very useful. On the other hand, I've been getting bank chip cards to replace my other credit cards, and they're all chip and signature.

Posted by
4690 posts

The Andrews website is unclear about whether their VISA credit card will be Chip-and-PIN or Chip-and-Signature. It implies that cards to two different customers could possibly be one and the other.

I see (Dec, 2015) that the Platinum Select Rewards credit card has no annual fee, but the Titanium Select Rewards card has a $59 annual fee that is waived for the first year.

I chose State Department FCU for their lack of both annual fee and foreign transaction fees, but the card they gave me is definitely Chip-and-Signature. I did use it successfully in some unmanned transit card terminals, for relatively small amounts. The real test will be when I try to buy gasoline in an unattended gas station ... ...

Posted by
2814 posts

Tim -- When I applied for the Andrews card 3 or so years ago, they didn't have all those options; it was just called a GlobeTrek VISA. When I got a new card when the first one expired, it was a Platinum Select Rewards. There's no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. And while it defaults to a signature when used with a person, the PIN has always worked at unmanned gas and train station machines. I expect that your State Dept card will do the same.

Posted by
4690 posts

Thanks for your reply Robert. Perhaps your "no annual fee" was grandfathered from your long membership. I was, indeed, wondering if I would do better at Andrews, since I did join them first. But because (a few years ago) Andrews only had Chip cards with an annual fee (or was it 1% Foreign Transaction Fee, I honestly forget), I went with SDFCU. Of course, one has to check current conditions with any financial services provider before making a product selection!

One issue for me is that while I have good credit, my wife and I are both retired. So neither of us has any "earned income." This resulted in my having to make an exceptional attachment, of many pages of asset-statement material, to our SDFCU Visa credit card application. That's also why I would not, say, change credit cards just to get a 25,000 "miles", or something like that.

Posted by
365 posts

I just got back from Christmas in Paris. I brought both a swipe debit card and chip visa card. The debit card worked in an ATM with no problem and one merchant was able to use it. Otherwise I used the Visa. I did not have a Pin but that did not cause a problem. The merchants and the hotel were able to use the card and I did not even get asked for a pin.

You should be fine

Posted by
11 posts

We are in London right now. Every time I use my chip credit card at a live merchant, they ask for my signature. I asked a clerk and she said that the machine tells her to collect a signature instead of a PIN for some reason. But I did use it in the Underground at a ticketing machine and needed my PIN.

Posted by
2814 posts

Tim, if you had applied for Andrews, the paperwork might have been even worse. I had to supply 2 years of tax returns because I was self-employed. So I mailed them and didn't hear anything. When I called they had no record of receiving them. Then they let me email a file containing the returns. That worked.