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Visa tells me my debit card won't work in Denmark

What are my best options for getting my kroner?

Posted by
5654 posts

Are you hearing this from Visa or the financial institution that issued a Visa ATM/Debit card? I have read that some financial institution (typically small local banks or credit unions) are concerned about foreign fraud.

My Visa Debit card issued by my local credit union worked during my CPH visit in 2015. And my Capital One Visa chip and sign credit card worked without any problems. Credit cards were very acceptable minimizing my need for DKK cash.

Posted by
971 posts

Visa debit cards are the most commonly used cards in Denmark, so you might want to take this up with your bank.

Posted by
4 posts

This is direct from Visa, twice 'caus i couldn't believe it the first time. They said it's due to a high level of fraud in the country.

Posted by
971 posts

Interesting, I have only heard of this problem on this forum, there is nothing on credit card fraud in the Danish news, not even the financial pages.

Posted by
5654 posts

Interesting. Visa website https://usa.visa.com/travel-with-visa/travel.html claims:

Worldwide ATM availability Get cash at over 2 million ATMs worldwide

The Visa.com website ATM Locator displays numerous ATMs in the Kingdom of Denmark:
http://www.visa.com/atmlocator/index.jsp?country=US#(page:results,params:(query:'Kingdom of Denmark, DNK'))

I will add that the Visa website advises travel tips + support: https://usa.visa.com/travel-with-visa/travel.html#5

Let your card issuer know about your trip before you leave so that
unfamiliar transactions aren’t flagged as suspicious. Additionally,
make sure you know the daily ATM withdrawal limit for your card as
well as the expiration dates, account balance and amount of credit
available to you. This ensures you won’t be caught short with a card
that doesn’t work while you’re away, or not have enough credit to
cover your trip expenses.

Posted by
5980 posts

This problem with US card issuers has been mentioned before, for Denmark, UK and other countries. Try calling the fraud department number on the back of your card and talk to them, ask for a manager if necessary. When I call that number, it always goes to my issuing bank card services department, not some central international VISA office in the cloud.

Posted by
4 posts

Everyone sounds as surprised as I was. I got this information by calling the number on the back of my debit card, from two people. It's just a bit unsettling not knowing how I will get my DKK.

Posted by
5654 posts

...number on the back of my debit card....

The number on the back of your debit card in all likelihood is the customer service number of the financial institution holding your checking or other account, not Visa. Your financial institution may be the one that will not allow you to access your funds, not Visa.

Alternatives to obtaining DKK cash would be:

Find a financial institution that would allow access to your funds
from a Danish and other foreign ATM cash machines.

Use your Visa Credit Card for a cash advance from a Danish ATM
(realizing that it is a credit card transaction with fees and
interest).

Take several hundred USD and exchange at a FX kiosk (also realizing
that you get a bad exchange rate).

Then use your credit card to the maximum extent acceptable.

Posted by
3465 posts

"There is a lot of fraud there." Convenient excuse. There is a lot of fraud everywhere.

Sometimes smaller banks and credit unions simply don't want to deal with international transactions and they opt out of supporting them. The only option then is to open another account at a bank that does allow you to get your money where you want to unless you want to carry large amounts of cash to cover your entire trip.

Capital One 360 is one that allows you to get your money anywhere and they don't charge any fees when you do (I have no connection with them other than being a customer for over 15 years). If you want to get a debit card that will work, why not look into their offerings. They are completely online so you never have to go to an actual branch to anything.

Posted by
4879 posts

We visited Copenhagen and Denmark in 2014. I had read in advance about chip and pin credit cards. I had two chip cards but they did not take a pin.

I quickly learned that when using my credit cards that I needed to say, signature prior to her processing the charge. The first time, I didn't say anything and the cashier processed the charge for a pin. For some reason the cashier could not cancel and reinstate the charge for signature, so I paid in cash.

After that, I had no problem with my credit cards, using my signature.

However, I tried to use my ATM card from my credit union checking account at three different Bank ATM machines. None would process my withdrawal. I called my credit union from the hotel and the credit union said my account was fine and ATM card was still good. I never understood why my ATM card did not work there in Copenhagen.

Posted by
3318 posts

I was in Copenhagen in September and my Visa debit card worked just fine!

Posted by
4 posts

My banker told me there is a US government program in place that won't allow any US issued debit cards to work in Denmark. I certainly plan to test out in June.

Posted by
4528 posts

The place with the highest amount of card fraud in the world: the USA. Around 50% of the card present fraud is carried out there.

Unless recently changed there is in Denmark a shockingly high charge of 3.75% added by law to all foreign issued debit/credit cards and some places are reluctant to take them.

Posted by
4524 posts

My banker told me there is a US government program in place that won't
allow any US issued debit cards to work in Denmark. I certainly plan
to test out in June.

LOL I'd say you have a serious problem with your bank. Not only do they seem to restrict their debit card usage in Denmark (where fraud is all but non-existent), but now they blame it on the US government. I'd be happy to blame lots of things on the current US government, but this is not one of them.

Get yourself a Schwab or Captial One 360 account with a debit card and use that for cash. Have your regular credit card too, Denmark is moving more and more to a cashless economy. Be sure to have the credit card's cash advance PIN with you. It is more expensive to get a cash advance, but it does make for an emergency backup if needed.

Posted by
3465 posts

Just had a long chat with my bank (one of the top 3 largest in the US) about using my Debit card in Denmark.

Surprisingly, I was told that there is a watch due to a spike in fraudulent activity in Denmark. This is based on their own internal transaction analysis, it is not a government warning or a warning from the credit card networks. I was told my card should work fine for getting cash out of ATMs, but I might have issues if I use it for purchases. The bank will text me or call me for each purchase to verify it was me. But no blanket refusal of the card.

So I take back most of what I said earlier. :-)

Posted by
3318 posts

Honestly!! These bank people often don't know what they are talking about. I've had them tell me all kinds of crazy things over the years NONE of which turned out to be remotely true. Go to Denmark, use your card in ATMs and at establishments that take Visa, and then call your bank back to tell them they are wrong. Sheesh. I'll eat my hat if your card gets refused anywhere.

Posted by
3465 posts

I think it is all a conspiracy. ;-)

The EU has imposed very limited interchange fees for credit and debit transactions that are an order of magnitude lower than what it is in the US. The card issuers simply don't want you to use your card in Europe because they won't make the amount of money on your transactions that they would if you stayed home and only bought things there. So they just block them.

Posted by
5654 posts

Mark: The EU has imposed very limited interchange fees for credit and debit transactions that are an order of magnitude lower than what it is in the US.

Is "an order of magnitude lower" correct. I thought that the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank 2010-2011 financial reform (that some would like to overturn) regulated/limited US debit card charges. I understand the Durbin Amendment limits debit card swipe fees to $0.21 USD plus 0.05% (5 basis points) of the transaction amount. Are European fees really 10 times lower? (Durbin first proposed $0.12 but banks complained.)

Posted by
3465 posts

For credit, the EU limits interchange to 0.30%. It is around 3.0% in the US, depending on the size of the business. So yes, this is an order of magnitude.

On debit, the EU limits interchange to 0.20%. With the actual cash value limit on interchange for true debit card transactions in the US (i.e., those where a PIN is used) limited as you noted it would seem the card issuers would actually get more from European transactions. But since most debit card transactions in the US are done as credit (i.e. no PIN and using signature over a certain limit for the transaction amount), the card issuers receive the full credit card interchange so the reduced EU limits are even less attractive relatively.

Posted by
5654 posts

Mark,

It certainly seems that banks/financial institutions are profit driven to prefer that customers make "online" credit card purchases over "off-line" PIN debit card purchases. However, that doesn't explain why the OP's institution doesn't allow the OP to withdraw funds from a Denmark ATM. Mainline banks such as the three largest (Chase, BofA, Wells) have foreign ATM transaction fees of about $5 plus 3%. If the OP's institution elected to impose similar fees, that would seem to be a profit incentive to encourage the OP to withdraw funds at a Danish ATM.

Posted by
3465 posts

Edgar,

The actual cost of an individual foreign transaction to a card issuer is hard to pin down. There are multiple network membership fees required for international participation, research for disputed transactions is much more difficult due to the time differences (night there while still business hours here), and so on and that make things complicated. Not knowing the original bank in question, it is difficult to know if they are simply a small bank that can't justify those additional expenses due to lack of volume or maybe they have actually been hit with the spike in fraud that Chase mentioned to me and simply don't like eating the losses. While it seems the $5 and 3% fees would cover their expenses, maybe not for some banks.

Posted by
22 posts

I just went round and round with Chase over this. I attempted to put the travel notice on my debit card on line. I was successful with Norway and Sweden. I was not able to add Denmark. So I went to my local branch office and the bank officer was also unable to add the travel notice. No problems with the travel notice for my Chase credit cards. The bank officer suggested that I withdraw funds from my Chase Credit card. Ah, no thanks, don't need to incur interest charges on the cash withdrawal. In the end, I just used my credit card to pay for things in Copenhagen.