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American chip and pin credit cards

Does anyone know what American credit cards are true chip and pin cards? Not chip and signature!! I have a Bank of America Travel Rewards card that has a chip but when I make purchases stateside, they request a signature. Preparing for a trip to France in December.

Posted by
15622 posts

Even if you have a credit card with a chip and PIN, in Europe you will still have to sign a slip of paper if another human is involved with the transaction, like a restaurant, hotel, or store check-out. That is because all American credit cards are set to default to signature. Only if you are making a purchase from a vending machine, like a train ticket kiosk, or unattended gas pump, or unmanned highway toll booth will you need a PIN. Even then, if the amount is relatively small, often a PIN is not needed. That amount is set up by the vending machine owner.

I have an Andrews Federal Credit Union chip and PIN card, and that is how it works.

Posted by
15622 posts

Bought a Zurich city day-pass for 8.40 CHF out of the kiosk. Never asked for a PIN, just spit out the ticket.

Posted by
926 posts

I have one from USAA but not sure if everyone can get them...

Kim

Posted by
1005 posts

I have a Bank of America card with a chip and an Andrews Federal Credit Union card with a chip. The Andrews card works at French SNCF train ticket machines, most toll roads, and gas pumps. The B of A card doesn't work at SNCF machines, some toll roads and some gas pumps. So to get the most coverage, I'd apply for an Andrews card. But always have cash as a backup--especially on the autoroute.

Posted by
1251 posts

Using our card this past summer was Chip & signature

Posted by
4841 posts

Worth mentioning that Andrews and USAA cards are not available to everyone, and the other true chip and pin cards available in the US are very few.

What each of the above posters mention is essentially true. All cards have a protocol of ranked Cardholder Verification Methods (CVMs). The four most common are Online PIN, Offline PIN, Signature, and No CVM. Your card will rank those, for most True chip and pin in the US, the order seems to be Signature, Pin, No CVM. If you have a chip and signature card, then it is likely Signature and No CVM. The terminal where you make the transaction also has a CVM ranking, and the combination of your card and the terminal, determine which validation method is used or even if you are able to make the transaction.

Since most all US chip and Pin cards have signature first, if you make a transaction and the terminal allows signature, then a slip is spit out to sign. If the terminal does not allow signatures, then you use a PIN. Figure most retailers in Europe do not want to exclude US visitors...so they allow signature.

Low dollar transactions sometimes allow "No CVM", so at some kiosks you can use your card with no PIN or signature. A twist that has been reported is that sometimes you are prompted to enter a PIN, but any 4 digits, or your cash advance PIN will work. In the case of these No CVM transactions, both your card and the terminal will have a Dollar limit, so sometimes you might be able to do $50, sometimes $25, sometimes none.

In my own experience (I have a Chip and PIN issued on a commercial account) I sign most of the time, use the PIN about a quarter of the time (mostly in off the beaten path places), and sometimes a PIN, sometimes not, at un-manned terminals; all consistent with what I have indicated above.

Posted by
15622 posts

Yes dear, but the question was also simultaneously asked in "General Europe" forum. I also bought a carnet at a Paris Metro machine later the next day, which may or may not have required a PIN, but the one in Zurich surprised me because a PIN was not required and I was all prepped for it. After that, nothing was memorable. If a I was prompted for a PIN, I gave it, if not, the transaction was completed and I was on my way. I guess that is how it is supposed to be.

Posted by
124 posts

I now have 2 chip and pin credit cards - a Capital One and a Bank of America. In both cases I use them in the us without a pin. When I asked for a pin number, I was originally told there wasn't one. Upon further effort, I discovered they both have pins - you just have to ask and they will send it to you. I would press it with BoA. I have now used both in France and Italy without any trouble - sometimes with signature and sometimes with pin. Neither of them charges a currency conversion fee which is also a bonus. My only problem was once in a toll road booth - so now I always get in a cash line just to be safe. Have a great trip. sue

Posted by
11743 posts

I thought I'd be in good shape during my September trip to Paris and northwest France. I brought a debit card with a chip, a credit card with a chip (but not really chip and pin) and a second credit card with a chip (but also not really chip and pin).

The potential problem with a chip and signature card, according to my agreement with another (Citibank Visa) card, is that using the pin will process the transaction as a cash advance. I wasn't too worried about it because my USAA card treats cash advances the same as purchases (no additional fee, same interest rate).

In hotels, restaurants, department stores, etc. I didn't have any trouble because they are used to processing the payment as chip and signature.

In automatic machines, (e.g metro ticket sellers and toll booths), at least one card each time would be refused but another worked in all but one case. More often than not, one card or the other would be refused so I'd try another and eventually it would work. I always seemed to be able to get around it - only once by using cash. It caused nervous moments more than once.

I developed a theory - no idea if I'm right. When you try to use a pin, your card wants to verify with the bank. In my case, that meant connecting overseas. I think the machine times out before it gets through to an overseas bank.

Part of the reason I think this might be the case is I often got turned down, then tried again and it worked - as if doing it twice gave it more time to verify my pin. Just a theory, likely as not to be wrong.

The moral of the story is, if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

Posted by
1115 posts

USAA no longer issues a true chip and pin card. For several years I had one from them that was a true chip and pin card. Recently they reissued all their cards (changed from Master Card to Visa) and they are now all chip and signature. I called and was told the chip and pin card was not available.

Posted by
579 posts

USAA no longer issues a true chip and pin card

According to a post on their forum regarding their new Visa card

Thank you for your comments. Regarding offline transactions, yes, you should be able to make offline transactions with your card. If you cannot, please contact us with the details of the amount and merchant so we may research this for you.
There was a delay in updating the card network’s software responsible for recognizing our new chip cards. Industry-wide, this has been an issue with kiosks such as the ones located in the European railway station because they don’t transfer information to the card network in real time. We worked with the card network to address the delay, and we have been monitoring transactions to ensure we’re seeing approved card transactions at these types of kiosks.
https://communities.usaa.com/t5/Bank-Services/VISA-Signature-Card-Not-a-CHIP-and-PIN-Card-Beware/td-p/92373/page/5

I haven't had a chance to test mine; maybe next summer :-)

Posted by
4841 posts

Just some comments on the above post as I see it.

The potential problem with a chip and signature card, according to my agreement with another (Citibank Visa) card, is that using the pin will process the transaction as a cash advance. I wasn't too worried about it because my USAA card treats cash advances the same as purchases (no additional fee, same interest rate).

A number of people have verified that only a cash withdrawal at an ATM will be handled as a Cash Advance. If prompted for a PIN at a retail transaction, and you use your Cash Advance PIN, you will not be charged as a cash advance. It is debatable whether the PIN actually is effective, or just allowing the transaction to proceed to the next step (some have reported just entering a random number and being successful)

In automatic machines, (e.g metro ticket sellers and toll booths), at least one card each time would be refused but another worked in all but one case. More often than not, one card or the other would be refused so I'd try another and eventually it would work. I always seemed to be able to get around it - only once by using cash. It caused nervous moments more than once.
I developed a theory - no idea if I'm right. When you try to use a pin, your card wants to verify with the bank. In my case, that meant connecting overseas. I think the machine times out before it gets through to an overseas bank.
Part of the reason I think this might be the case is I often got turned down, then tried again and it worked - as if doing it twice gave it more time to verify my pin. Just a theory, likely as not to be wrong.

There could be something to it, among the available CVMs, it can distinguish berween on-line and off-line transactions and may allow or disallow based on that. Again, if the card is not a known Chip and Pin, hard to tell if the PIN was truly effective, or if would have allowed the transaction regardless. Out of curiosity, were any of these types of transactions over the equivalent of $50 US? If not they might have just fell into a No-CVM validation.

The moral of the story is, if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

Agreed, also good to have more than one option or card, back-ups have saved me more than once.

Posted by
3436 posts

Using the Cash Advance PIN for non cash transaction does NOT turn the transaction into a cash advance. Your bank lies to you when they state otherwise. Not intentionally, but they are approaching the situation as if every transaction is being done within the US where a PIN would never be requested except at an ATM to get cash. They believe it would be too confusing for their customers to state "except in Europe" when asked the question about needing a PIN.

In actuality, the PIN is only needed to satisfy the local unmanned machine/network requirements for all US chip & signature cards. Along the way from Europe to your card issuer in the US, the PIN (if one is entered into the credit card machine) is actually never sent onward once it reaches the US part of the authorizing network for purchases.

I too have the B of A Travel Visa card. I have my PIN, but have only needed it when buying train tickets from a kiosk in Italy. Everywhere else, I either have to sign a slip of paper or the transaction completes without a PIN or even a signature.

I also have a true chip & PIN card. It is from Target and they are not issuing them to new customers anymore. But with this card, everywhere I use it it always requires a PIN. Which really confuses a lot of clerks here in the US just like the chip & signature cards are confusing to many in Europe
. :-)

Posted by
11743 posts

Most of my automated transactions were small. Carnets, under 15 euro. RER B into town, 10 euro, Tolls, maybe around 8 euro. I did purchase gas, around 35 euro each time, but picked places with a cashier on the premises in case I had trouble.

I took a train to Rouen from Paris and another from Amboise to Paris. I can't recall how much those were? I didn't buy them well in advance but I don't think they were more than $50. I bought the first online and the second at a ticket window rather than a machine.

Posted by
323 posts

Just returned from Paris and other parts of France, a two month trip. We were asked to sign a receipt at all restaurants when we used our chip card from Cap One. Never had a bit of a problem anywhere, even in smaller towns in the Provence area. Didn't have a car so we don't know about toll booths or gas stations.

Posted by
2847 posts

One comment about one of the above comments. An Andrews FCU card is available to anyone; at least anyone who joins whatever organization I joined 3-4 years ago when I got one. At the time, Andrews was about the only card with a chip available in the US. With more chip cards available now, it's hardly worth the effort to get it.