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Credit Cards, Debit Cards and ATM Cards Oh My!!!!

Please share your experiences using credit cards in Denmark. We are planning to use credit cards; however, they do not have chips yet. Did you find it safe to use debit cards with pin numbers? Is it easy to access money from ATM machines? We weren't planning to use a lot of cash and now I'm wondering if we are planning poorly......please advise.

Posted by
1535 posts

I can speak to my experience in Copenhagen and Roskilde (I was there in May). Credit cards are used even for the smallest items. Other than one small restaurant (which was more of a take away place) I had no need for cash. I have an Andrews Credit Union "chip and pin" card. About 90% of the time, I ended up having to sign a slip of paper - even though the card is touted as being no-signature. The only place it did not work reliably is the DSB (transit) machines, and there I used my regular striped ATM card with PIN without trouble.

Though I didn't look closely, most retail and restaurants seemed to have machines for chip cards. I have no idea how you'd fare with a regular stripe card. But perhaps Morten (a local person who posts here often) will chime in. I will say ATM machines are all over the place, you shouldn't have trouble finding one.

Posted by
379 posts

I was in Denmark last October. No problems using credit cards - my wife's has a chip, mine does not, both worked fine. We withdrew cash from the ATM several times and did not have a problem, using the card issued by our American bank. We did not use any debit cards.

Posted by
6562 posts

Have you thought about contacting your financial institution and ask if a Chip and Pin card is available. Most are in the process of replacing the old style cards right now.

I misplaced my old ATM card, and they replaced it with a Chip and Pin card.
Scandinavia is just about all cards for financial transactions. Norway's even talking about doing away with currency since everyone's using ATM cards and Smart Phones for everything.

Posted by
21156 posts

Steve's post maybe slightly off or misunderstood. I hope he was using a debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. You should be using a debit card at the ATMs. Using a credit card at an ATM machine will result in high fees and interest charges that are avoid with the debit card. Most American credit cards are chip and signature. They are not the same as European type of chip and pin. Most places except for lot of stand alone ticket machines, toll booths, etc., will handle both the types of cards. Our personal preference is to use cash and avoid problems with non-acceptance of credit cards. This is also a changing environment so be prepared to shift to cash if you find problems with your credit cards.

Did you find it safe to use debit cards with pin numbers? Not sure what question is being asked. Of course it is safe. Thousands of people do it daily. Use some precautions. I prefer to use ATMs attached to banks during open hours. And I prefer to use an ATM just after someone else. If it works for them, it should work for me.

Is it easy to access money from ATM machines? Absolutely. As stated earlier we shift to about 95% cash during our travels. Just so much easier and convenient.

Posted by
2707 posts

I think you will find Scandinavia different than a lot of European /areas or countries that are more solidly in the use cash mode. I can speak of Sweden. It was wonderful with my chip and signature card. They would rather you didn't use cash for even the smallest transactions. So if you have the correct card, my charged no transaction fees, it is an easier and faster way to pay, to keep track of expenses, etc. I, essentially, didn't touch my cash until the last taxi ride to the airport on which I used it up. So I think, as Scandinavia is concerned at least, cash is not easiest. My card worked in ticket machines as well. I suggest you call your bank/CC company, as I thought it was law that US Credit card companies had to supply a chip and signature card to customers by the end of Oct. 2015. Someone else on the forum can chime in with the exact law/deadline, I am sure.

Posted by
379 posts

I meant that we didn't use the card as a debit card for purchases. We used it only to withdraw cash.

Posted by
70 posts

As others have mentioned, the Scandinavian countries (including Iceland) prefer cards. In fact, it's expected. During my trip in May, I used my chip card there for everything. My travelling companion prefers cash and it was inconvenient in many places, and it takes a lot longer which irritates everyone waiting in line. I really could have used my card more in all the other countries (UK and France) as well. It is so easy to insert the card and the transaction takes seconds. I have a card with no international fees so it was actually much better and easier than using cash. And when you use cash, you end up with a LOT of heavy coins. Next trip I will make fewer ATM transactions (which have a fee from my bank) and more card purchases (faster, easier, no fees, no worries about losing money).

Posted by
971 posts

Sorry to dissapoint CL, but I have no experience with American credit cards, so I don't know which will work and which will not.
It's true that we use card for almost any transaction and hardly ever use cash, the latest thing is paying via your mobile phone with different apps like MobilePay. However cash is still legal tender, so it's accepted everywhere. The exception is if you have large bills in places like busses (they don't have change, and the single tickets are horribly expensive anyway) or smaller shops. Cash mioght not be the easiest, but it will almost always be accepted.

A funny story. I used to work at a cinema and one of my collegues once had Lars Ulrich, the drummer from Metallica, walk up and try to buy tickets with his Platinum American Express card. The cinema only accepted Visa, so Lars had to walk to the ATM to get cash.

Posted by
3457 posts

Credit cards worked every time with or without chips. Visa or MasterCard are best options, American Express not accepted that many places. Try and have one that has zero foreign usage fees.

Use your debit card only to get cash from an ATM.

Posted by
4522 posts

I thought it was law that US Credit card companies had to supply a chip and signature card to customers by the end of Oct. 2015.

Not a law - this was a self-imposed deadline between the credit card banks and merchants. Most banks have provided new chip credit cards by now but some banks are still behind or old cards haven't yet expired and been replaced with new chip cards. Banks are responsible for any fraudulent charges on old style cards; merchants on chip cards if they don't use chip readers yet.

The deadline for debit cards is October 2016 so many debit/ATM cards are still magnetic strip. These work just fine in ATMs throughout Europe.

US credit cards are chip & signature - not chip & PIN. Some banks do issue a PIN for secondary validation if a signature is not possible (automated machine). Sometimes a chip & signature card will work in a machine but the only way to know is to try. Most tourist oriented merchants in Europe know how to process a signature validation transaction. Many - but not all - will still process an old style magnetic strip card. If you have time, call your bank and see if they will issue you a new chip card.

Posted by
3 posts

We are in Copenhagen now, and credit cards are accepted everywhere. I do have a chip, but no pin, and there has been no problem - however- restaurants are adding a 3.75% charge for "foreign" credit cards, which seems a sham. This is on top of ridiculously expensive food. We spent about $20 a person last night for OK Thai food at a restaurant with really bad service- one I got out of the Rick Steves book.

Posted by
1251 posts

Our family just returned from a trip that included Denmark & Sweden. We had no issues using our chip & signature credit card or using out debit card in an ATM.