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Buying gas in Provence

There's a thread but it is two years old.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/buying-gas-at-24-7-automated-gas-stations

I am wondering if I can use US Visa/MC credit cards or debit card to buy gas/petrol. Above thread says most gas stations don't take cash or US credit cards. US credit card with pin might work but it's like getting cash from credit cards and it can be expensive.

Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Posted by
5697 posts

We got a Barclays credit card through the Lufthansa Miles and More program and it has worked at gas stations, parking garages and toll roads in France and Germany. This included unmanned locations.
Edit : note that this card is NOT a standard U.S. bank card -- use as chip-and-pin.

Posted by
153 posts

In my experience it has been the "pay at the pump" automated stations that might refuse to accept an American credit card. Any station with an attendant should be able to make the charge on the card.

Posted by
7573 posts

It was 3 years ago, but we gassed up with our Chase VISA at stations throughout Provence (and elsewhere in France) at stations during regular business hours, when there was a cashier to ring up our sale.

Be certain whether your car takes sans plomb (unleaded) or gazole (diesel).

Posted by
65 posts

Can I use US credit cards with chips and pin?
I am updating my Costco citi card and chase visa (amazon prime) card pins.

Posted by
12172 posts

There are essentially two options for getting gas.

One option is unattended or automatic gas stations. For those you need a true chip and pin card. Most American cards are chip and signature and won't work when the station is unattended. A handful of true chip and pin cards are available to Americans. I got one from Andrews Air Force Base Credit Union and it worked for gas in France. Andrews is a horrible financial institution, however, so I wouldn't recommend them - and I'm not sure it's worth the effort to add a gas option.

The second option is attended gas stations. You can use any form of payment including cash or credit card (chip and signature is fine). Gas at toll road rest stops are always attended. I use them as a last resort because they are considerably more expensive than regular gas stations. The best option I found was asking at my lodging where an attended gas station could be found? Many big grocery stores have gas; they are attended some hours and automatic outside those hours. Other bigger gas stations with attached convenience stores are similar, they're attended many hours and automatic outside those hours.

When a station is attended put in gas, then go in to pay. That seems to be the norm in Europe. I had similar in Ireland and Northern Ireland in May. Apparently people won't drive off (or the penalty is stiff enough to deter it).

Posted by
26 posts

I always tried to have cash with me, but I got very lucky with my Costco Citi Visa card. It worked in a toll booth and in a gas pump (in Provence). It is a chip card, but no pin. (and 0 foreign fees.)

I've also heard that some of the bigger towns have gas stations attached to grocery stores, and you have a good chance of using cash for gas there.

Posted by
729 posts

In late May of this year, we had no problem finding attended gas stations near our base of St-Remy in Provence, even during a holiday weekend. We also saw attended gas stations at numerous other locations as we toured the area. As others have mentioned, attended stations will take cash or your card (no Pin needed), and ask at your accommodations for nearby options.

Posted by
31 posts

So this just happened to us near Nimes last week. We had gone out exploring for the day and on the way home needed to buy gas. The first place we went to only had diesel left-seemed strange but a French woman had the same issue so we knew it wasn't just us not knowing what we were doing. The 2nd station we went to only took French credit cards-not even cash. We finally found one that worked for us but gas stations are not as plentiful and you do have to find one that takes American cards.
On another day we had our British niece with us and again our card didn't work but hers did.

Posted by
2916 posts

Andrews is a horrible financial institution, however, so I wouldn't recommend them - and I'm not sure it's worth the effort to add a gas option.

I'll definitely agree with the first part. But once you get the card, if you're lucky you'll never have to deal with them again except to receive the bills and pay them. I got an Andrews card several years ago specifically to deal with issues involving unattended gas stations. It always works, and I have had minimal contact with them. I did lose the card a few years ago when I left it at a shop in a small village in Provence, but getting a replacement was surprisingly easy. And there's also no need to notify them every time you travel.

Posted by
473 posts

We bought gas from a station outside of Nimes right before returning our rental to Hertz and I found a large supermarket with a station and used my Signature Visa with no pin and it worked just fine. I was very happy. Also we had no problem using our CC in tollbooths.

Posted by
42 posts

My experience from just returning from Provence: I could only use my US credit card with an attendant requiring signature. The attendant confirmed this would be necessary after I tried at a different unmanned station which declined my card. I had more luck at “Total” stand alone manned gas stations even if they cost a bit more than Intermarche. I filled up in Saint Remy before returning to Avignon TGV, although Google Maps did show several stations near the TGV which opened early morning.

Posted by
144 posts

Can I use US credit cards with chips and pin?
I am updating my Costco citi card and chase visa (amazon prime) card pins.

You can use the cards anywhere that accepts U.S. credit cards (chip & signature).

The pin for an American credit card is only for ATM cash withdrawals and is NOT the same as a true chip & pin card.

In other words, it is just a normal American chip & signature card, but you can use the pin to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Happy Travels!

Posted by
65 posts

Many people have already said this. US Credit card didn't work. I paid cash at gas stations (Provence and Nice).

Please have cash on you.

Posted by
782 posts

I have used Capital One Visa all over Europe when the gas Station is open, we go inside and pay when we finish pumping our fuel.It has also worked 80% of the time at toll Booths.
Mike

Posted by
2577 posts

There is no argument that US credit cards are accepted at any manned location, be it restaurant, hotel, or gas station. Purchasing gas at an attended station is not the concern. The problem is purchasing gas at pay-at-the-pump locations when a station is otherwise closed and there is no attendant available to process your payment, such as on weekends, during holidays, or anytime after normal business hours.

Pump purchases can always be made with chip & PIN cards. Very few banks in the US issue chip & PIN cards, almost all US credit cards are chip & signature; however, many chip & signature cards have PINs which are used to complete purchases at unmanned locations such as ticket kiosks and pay-at-the-pump gas stations. This capability is completely at the discretion of the card issuing bank.

Posted by
9429 posts

What Brad said.
We just spent the last 5 days driving all over western Provence, had no problem finding attended gas stations all over. We used a Capital One Venture card - been using it for everything everywhere we go. Even the toll roads.

Posted by
2916 posts

The problem is purchasing gas at pay-at-the-pump locations when a station is otherwise closed and there is no attendant available to process your payment, such as on weekends, during holidays, or anytime after normal business hours.

That's the reason I got an Andrews chip card about 5 years ago. We were returning our rental car at the Geneva airport on a Sunday, about a 15 minute drive from our B&B, and I needed to fill the tank. The pumps at all the open gas stations required a chip and a PIN; there were no manned stations. So I had to eat the exorbitant rental agency charge for filling the tank. So as soon as I got home I researched chip cards, and got one from Andrews. It's always worked at unmannned gas pumps.

Posted by
2577 posts

My PenFed chip & signature card (with PIN) has always worked for me at ticket kiosks and pay-at-the-pump refueling points but PIN entry is required. I have read comments by those stating that their USAA chip & signature Visa cards also have been accepted at pay-at-the-pump locations using the card´s PIN.

Not all chip & signature cards have PINs that can be used in conjunction with purchases. Some banks issue credit cards having PINs used only for cash withdrawals (actually cash advances) from ATMs. In my view, the most universally accepted card to have is a chip & PIN card, but a chip & signature card with a functioning PIN is almost as good.