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Visa or MasterCard?

When using credit cards in Europe, is either MC or Visa more widely accepted, or does it matter? Also, we typically write on the back of the card, "Please ask for photo ID". Does anyone know if there is a problem with this practice in Europe? Thanks travelers!

Posted by
9110 posts

Either one.

Will the clerk know the phrase in English?

Mine are unsigned. Maybe once in fifty times will somebody ask for ID. When they do, there's no comparing, just a glance that something came out if my wallet.

My wife puts the phrase on the back of hers. Her results are the same as mine. Nobody's ever asked what the scribbling means as far as I know.

Posted by
9361 posts

Mine say the same thing on the back. No one has ever asked about it.

Posted by
2081 posts

our9yearjourney,

this will vary with where you go and what place you go to.

In Hawaii, they will ask for photo ID if you use your credit card for a cup of coffee.

So far in my European travels, i have had some merchants ask for ID and some not. I will say that the majority do.

happy trails.

Posted by
4467 posts

There was a time when there were differences between MC and Visa acceptability in some countries but that isn't really a factor now.

You are only potentionally going to cause trouble for yourself though if you present a card without a signature as the card technically isn't valid without one. It can be difficult enough to get a mag stripe card accepted in countries where the use of a PIN is universal without this additional issue. The whole concept of not signing a card as some kind of 'security' just isn't common.

Posted by
5281 posts

This wasn't in Europe, but ... paying for lunch with my brother and his family, I sent my husband up to the cashier with my credit card and the cashier dutifully asked him for photo id. His ID matched his face ... but not the name on my card. That didn't seem to be a problem for the cashier.

Posted by
4467 posts

I remember being surprised at the way the signature was barely looked at using credit cards in the USA - with the card often being handed back before the signature. There was always an appearance of scrutiny using these in the UK, but this may have been an illusion (not signed for anything here in nearly 10 years now).

There are plenty of reports on various travel sites of people having their cards declined in Europe without a signature; probably not every time and every where but it must be a risk to weigh up.

Posted by
9110 posts

The only reason mine aren't signed is that somebody told me way back when that they had to be - - being a butthead, I haven't. My AmExp says 'Member Since 68' and none of the things have had a signature. The others are probably almost as old - - same thing. Nobody's ever balked. ........... The personal war continues.

Posted by
2081 posts

as a personal comment

i can go into my local grocery stores and buy < 60 USD worth of stuff and they dont as to see my card or ID.

just a year or so ago, it was < 25 USD, now its more.

im sure in a year or so, < 100 USD will be fine w/o ID or card examination.

happy trails

Posted by
11613 posts

I sign the card and write the "must show photo ID" line in the little strip (tiny writing). No one has ever asked me in Europe.

Posted by
6542 posts

It does matter which Visa and Mastercards you use when you travel internationally. Most U.S. credit cards are taking advantage of their customers on the exchange rate.

I use Capital One Visa for rooms and meals--anytime it's accepted. It's one of the few charge cards that gives you the full daily exchange rate on charges. I never use a credit card for a cash advance, however.

My Wells Fargo ATM comes with a $5 charge and a 3% discount--very unfavorable terms. I use a credit union ATM card for day to day spending money.